Introduction: Escher Easter Egg

This Instructable will show you how to make an M.C.Escher-inspired Easter Egg in the traditional Ukrainian style, pysanka .
Pysanka Easter Eggs are created using a wax-resist (batik) technique.  The technique allows for very intricate designs, but requires lots of patience!  Basically, wax is applied to areas to be kept white.  The egg is then dipped in a light colored dye.  Wax is then applied to areas that should remain this color.  This method is repeated with progressively darker colors until the design is complete.  I'll run through all the steps to make the two Escher-inspired eggs shown.

To get started you'll need a few items
* raw egg (You will blow out and discard the egg after dying)
* pencil
* eraser
* kistka - stylus used to apply wax to the egg
* wax
* dyes - various colors prepared following packet instructions
* jars - big enough to fit an egg through the opening
* egg dipper - I made one out of a scrap of coat hanger
* paper towel
* candle
* clear varnish, polyurethane

For hanging egg
* thread
* pin
* toothpick

I picked up pysanka materials from a local Ukrainian Museum .  There are several kits that you can buy online for pretty cheap.  Just Google "pysanka kit".  The kistka, or stylus, come in three sizes: Fine, Medium, and Large.  I use almost exclusively the medium stylus.

Step 1: Pick Your Inspiration

This Instructable will show eggs based on two woodcuts by famous Dutch Artist M.C. Escher, "Circle Limit III" and "Fish and Waves"

If you want, pick your own tessellation and map it to the eggs surface. 

I had to modify the Circle Limit for it to work on the egg.  I also modified the colors to make it easier.  I removed the waves from "Fish and Waves" to make the design simpler, and added colors.

Step 2: Layout Your Egg

Step by step instructions for laying out the "Circle Limit III" egg are shown in the video below. 

For the "Fish and Waves" tessellation, the grid is much simpler.  I split the egg into 16 vertical sections by adding additional longitude lines.  I then added 3 latitude lines above and below the center latitude line to divide the egg into a 16X8 grid.  Each tesselating unit was constructed from eight (2X4) grid  boxes

Obviously, the EggBot would come in quite handy here!

After doing the layout, draw the fish outlines.  On the "Circle Limits III" egg, the layout lines become the center line of each fish (and don't actually show up in the final version).  Use the pictures in the next step  as a guide for how to draw the fish.  I did the details free-hand.    Don't worry about erasing unused lines except if they confuse you.  You won't see them after all the dying/waxing is done.

Step 3: Start Waxing

I'll explain the "Circle Limit III" Egg in detail.  In general it's easiest to make lines lighter colors than their backgrounds so they can be waxed first. 

To wax the egg:
1. Heat the stylus with a candle flame
2. Scrape some wax into the stylus
3. Continue to heat the stylus until all the wax is molten
4. Test drawing with the stylus on a piece of paper
5. If the wax is not running, heat it longer.  If the wax is coming out in large blobs let it cool a bit before starting to draw on your egg
6. Press the stylus against the egg at a slight angle and let the wax flow. 
7. Reheat as necessary (every few seconds) to keep the wax hot.

Wax all the parts of the egg that will stay white (i.e., the outlines of all the fish, eyes, and details). 

Step 4: Dye It, Wax It, Dye It, Wax It...

Dip the egg in yellow dye.  Leave the egg in the dye for several minutes, or until you are satisfied with the color. 
Pat the egg dry with a paper towel.

Now you will wax all the parts of the egg that will stay yellow.  Make sure to fill in the correct fish!

Now repeat with the other colors:
1. Dye the egg in green.  Wax the parts that will stay green

2. Dye the egg red.  Wax the parts that will stay red

3. Dye the egg blue

Step 5: Remove the Wax

Hold the egg close to a candle flame until wax starts to melt.  Quickly wipe off the melted wax with a paper towel.  You will only be able to wipe off small amounts of wax at a time.  Repeat until all the wax is removed. 

Note: I wear sunglasses when I do this to protect my eyes from staring at a flame for several minutes

Step 6: Varnish the Egg

Varnish the egg to protect it and give it a glossy finish. This is essential to do before blowing the egg.  Otherwise the egg white will tend to remove some of the dye if you do not waterproof the shell with the varnish .   I use clear high-gloss polyurethane.  Follow the directions on the can. 

Note: I made a stand to dry the egg by hammering 4 nails through a thin piece of wood.  This allows me to varnish the whole egg at once.  Allow the egg to dry the recommended amount of time before handling it.  Apply a second coat if desired (I don't).

Step 7: Blow Out the Egg

Poke a hole at the top of the egg with a pushpin.  Using a syringe, slowly push air into the egg, forcing the egg out.  Be patient and go slow so you don't explode your egg.  If the egg isn't coming out at all, you should make your hole a little bigger.  See the video below.

Make a hanger for the egg from a piece of black thread and a piece of a toothpick.  See the details in the video above.
Egg-Bot Challenge

First Prize in the
Egg-Bot Challenge