Growing up I was lucky enough to learn how to make pysanka eggs with my family for Easter. Now we create the eggs year round for several different occasions. Pysanka is an Ukranian egg decorating technique that uses bees wax and egg dye. The bees wax is drawn on eggs to create intricate designs with many colors. In pysanka egg decorating, different colors and different designs have different meanings, but you can use this technique to create traditional designs as well as modern designs. The decorations you create are entirely up to you!
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Step 1: Gather Materials
All of these materials can be found online or even in local craft stores.
· White eggs
· Kistka (or Kistky) tools (shown in picture)
· Bees wax (shown in picture)
· News paper
· Paper towels
· Egg dyes
· Dish soap
· Spoons (I recommend metal)
· Egg carton
· Oil varnish
· Latex gloves
· Wire rack
· Egg blower (optional, in this process I do not use one since I never used one growing up and it is the traditional process to use a full egg)
Step 2: Egg Preparation
To start, it is important to choose a medium or large white egg without any cracks. Hold the egg up to a light to see any fine cracks; eggs with cracks will not hold up if you choose to blow out the egg, and they have the potential for breaking while cleaning off the wax, or exploding due to escaping gases for eggs that were not blown out. A white egg is best to work with since brown, green, or blue eggs will change affect the dye colors. Next clean the eggs you have chosen to decorate with a gentle soap. Place the eggs in a dish pan with soapy water and gently rub and rinse the eggs. Set the eggs on a dish towel to dry and let the eggs come to room temperature if they were refrigerated.
Step 3: Egg Dyes Preparation
Follow the instructions that come with the egg dyes. I recommend using mason jars since they will keep the dyes longer, provide a tight seal, and are able to fit an entire egg in them with a spoon (to help lower and remove eggs from the dye). I recommend using a different spoon for each different dye color so you do not accidentally contaminate colors.
Step 4: Star Design, Pencil Guidelines
The star design is a beginner design to get first time pysanky egg decorators accustomed to using a kistka, drawing on an egg, and using dyes effectively. Set up your work station with your candle, newspaper (to work over), paper towels (to place your kistka on and to dry your egg), egg carton (to hold eggs), kistka tool, pencil, and dyes. Also, while working, hold your egg over your table, you will be less likely to drop your egg if you do this.
The first color is white, since that is the color of your egg. Take your dry egg, and with a pencil draw guidelines. Guidelines will vary for each design, for this design draw a dot marking the center on the front of your egg, a point marking the top of your egg, and a point marking the bottom. If you make a mistake DO NOT ERASE. Erasing the lines will mess up how the dye sticks to the egg and you could break your egg.
Step 5: Star Design, Drawing With Wax and Dying
Now it is time to use the wax. The idea of drawing on the wax is that whatever you want to be white (or whatever color you are on) you cover in wax. The wax prevents the dye from reaching the egg. Take your kistka tool and hold it over the flame for a little bit, the hotter the tool, the faster the wax will flow through the point. Once your kistka tool is warm enough, scrape your bees wax with the wide end of the tool, then draw a few lines on the paper towel until the wax comes out evenly. You will repeat this action throughout the entire process of creating your pysanka egg.
Step 6: White Lines
Draw the wax on your egg in the parts that will be white. You may need to reheat the kistka while you are drawing so the wax is warm enough to flow through the point. Once all of the spots you want white are covered in wax, place the egg on a spoon and fully submerge your egg in the yellow dye for about 5-10 minutes (or until you like the color). The longer you leave the egg in the dye, the darker the color will be. Once you like the color, remove your egg and pat the egg gently with a paper towel until it is dry.
Step 7: Yellow Petals
Draw with wax the yellow petals in each star point.
Step 8: Green Dots
Draw green dots in the location shown in the picture using a q-tip. Then, once the green dye is dry, cover the dots with wax and then fully submerge the egg in orange dye.
Step 9: Orange Fringe
Draw the orange fringe, as shown in the image, with wax. Then fully submerge the egg in red dye.
Step 10: Red Star
Fill in the star with wax, and then fully submerge the egg in black dye. This is the last color and dye/wax step necessary to create your egg!
Step 11: Removing the Wax
This is probably the most dangerous step, but also the most rewarding. Take a candle, and hold your egg, which is covered in wax, up close to the flame. Let the heat melt the wax, and using a paper towel or cloth wipe off the wax. The process will take some time depending on the amount of wax you put on the egg, but once it is complete, you will see your finished egg. While cleaning your egg, be careful not to hold the egg too close to the flame, this might cause your egg to get sooty which is difficult to remove.
Step 12: Varnishing Your Finished Egg
This is an optional step, but it will give your egg a glossy finish and it will protect your egg and strengthen its shell. Use a thin oil varnish for the eggs. Put on your latex gloves and dip a finger into the varnish and spread it around the palm of that same hand. Pick up an egg, with your other, clean, hand, and place it in the hand with the varnish. Roll the egg around in your palm until the egg is completely covered. Place your varnished egg on a wire rack to dry. It will take at least 24 hours for your egg to completely dry.
Step 13: You're Done!
Congratulations! You now have a completed pysanky egg! Remember, practice makes perfect, so the more eggs you make, the straighter the lines will get and the more complicated designs you can do!