Needing a spring project for my middle school Art class, I discovered the Pysanky, a traditional Ukranian Easter egg decorated using a wax resist method. My classes were rather large, so I needed several kistka, which are funnels for wax.
There were some really nice ones for sale, but they were outside of my small budget. I did some research and saw pictures of traditional ones, but no instructions how to make it. I eventually devised my own method and it seems to work well enough.
Step 1: Materials
You'll need the following:
- Wooden Chopsticks
- Copper Wire
- Aluminum can
- Mason Jar Lid
- Fine Sandpaper
At the end of the Instructable, I'll talk about the dyeing method and give more details about the process.
Step 2: Cut Out Aluminum Funnel
- Using your shears, cut off the top and bottom of a soda can. Then cut and flatten the remainder for a sheet of aluminum. The edges are sharp, so be careful not to cut yourself.
- Using a mason jar lid and needle, lightly score a circle on the sheet. The diameter is approximately 3" or 75 mm. You will get about 2 funnels from each can.
- Gently fold it in half - you don't need a tight fold.
- Unfold and fold in quarters. These lines will be a rough guide. You don't need to be exact.
- Cut off one quarter of the circle. Be sure to make a sharp corner when cutting - do not over cut the corner.
Note: When cutting with the shears, use the middle part of the scissors. It gives your more control. The tip of the scissors can be dull or might warp the cut at the end.
Step 3: Make the Funnel
- Twist the circle into a funnel. Make sure the tip is very tight. You can adjust this later.
- Cut the funnel alongside the loose edge. Cut it about 1/4" or 5 mm.
- Using the pliers, fold the cut inwards and pinch closed. This will hold the loose edge so that it doesn't unravel.
- Do the same to the opposite edge.
Step 4: Make a Holder
- Split the flat end of a chopstick in half.
- Cut a length of copper wire - about 2.5' or 75 cm.
- Wrap one end around one of the chopstick's split half, leaving a short length at the end.
- Place the funnel between the split ends and wrap it to secure. Tighten it as best you can. Be careful because the funnel edge is relatively sharp.
- Twist the remaining wire together and tuck it inside the funnel.
Note 1: This is not a pretty process - it doesn't need to be. The objective is not only to secure the funnel, but to make a mass of copper wire so that it retains heat when melting the wax.
Note 2: A 45° angle is best - 90° make is awkward to hold in the hand. Try different angles to see what works best in your hand.
Step 5: Refine the Tip
- Gently sand the tip flat - perpendicular to the funnel.
- Use a needle to open the tip to the size you want.
Note: Make several "gauges" by pushing the needle deeper. Smaller openings make for finer lines while larger openings are good for infilling. The larger ones will drip more wax, so touch the tip on a piece of scrap paper before applying it to the egg.
It is helpful to color the chopstick so that you know which ones are which - like blue ring for fine, pink rink for larger infill ones.
Step 6: Use It!
Here is a list of things you'll need for dyeing:
- Pysanky Dyes
- Egg blower (very helpful to have - saves your cheeks)
- Toilet paper (which can also be used to steady the egg while drawing)
Note 1: I purchase the dyes from All Things Ukranian. I have no affiliation with them, but they have been very nice and have good dyes. The dyes last a long time - I have used them year after year. I would suggest purchasing an extra ORANGE dye because it can be used to remove colors.
Note 2: There are a few Instructables and loads of videos on the web showing how to do it, but here's a list of short steps:
- Lightly draw a pattern on your egg.
- Take a small ball of wax and drop into the kistka. Draw on the egg.
- Dip the egg in dye.
- Whatever was covered by the wax does NOT get dyed.
- Continue drawing on the egg, then dip in dye. Go in the color order that is recommended (usually lighter to darker).
- When done, use a flame or oven to melt off the wax to reveal the design.
Note 3: The students ranged between ages 12 and 16. I've tried to do with younger kids, but I would say that the lower limit would be 10. Younger ones can still make simple patterns like dots and writing their name, but it can be a handful if you have flames, wax, and dyeing to handle on your own.
I was actually surprised how talented they were and even more surprised when several students took time during their breaks to come make more eggs on their own. Several students have told me they still have their eggs, so it can be a fun, easy, and memorable project.
I notified the administration about using tea lights and had a fire extinguisher on hand, but had no problems. I made sure to emphasize fire-safety.