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The Twelve Steps In Decorating Pysanky

twelve-steps-in-decorating-ukrainian-easter-eggs-2If you decide to decorate your own Ukrainian Easter Egg (Pysanka), you will need the following supplies:

  • White eggs – raw, free of any imperfections, at room temperature
  • White vinegar
  • Pencil – #2
  • 4 containers to hold the dye
  • 4 teaspoons (to lower and remove the eggs from the dye)
  • 1 set of food coloring (yellow, red, blue, green)
  • Q-tips
  • Needle
  • Egg drying board
  • Oil-based polyurethane
  • Candle, and lighter or matches
  • Paper towels
  • Egg Decorating book or design samples
  • Ukrainian Easter Egg decorating kit, or
  • 1 fine point stylus (kistka)
  • 1 large point stylus
  • 1 cake of beeswax
  • 4 dyes – yellow, orange, red, black

The whole process of decorating a pysanka, consists of twelve basic steps (the above display shows all the major steps from left to right, with the exclusion of the totally black egg, once it comes out of the black dye).  I have chosen a very basic egg design for the first egg, and if you purchased an egg decorating kit, you will find several other designs to choose from for your next projects.

Step 1 – Prepare your dyes per package directions.  Cover your work area with newspapers, or paper towels. Have your candle and lighter ready when needed.  Clean your egg by wiping it gently with a soft cloth dipped in 1 cup of water mixed with 1 Tbs. of white vinegar.  Let the egg dry off.

Step 2 – Using the #2 pencil, draw, lightly, the main lines of your design on the clean egg (you do not need to use a pencil to draw your design if you feel comfortable enough to use the wax from the start).   Now go over your penciled lines with the stylus (kistka) filled with warm, liquefied beeswax.  Be careful not to drip any wax on your egg (since the color will not dye the shell in that spot.  If you do have a drip, you need to scrape it off real well, using a needle tip).  To get wax into your stylus, you scrape it against the cake of wax, so the funnel fills up with wax, then you hold it over the candle flame, with the stylus tip pointing down, and as soon as the wax starts to melt, you start drawing with it on your egg.  You need to keep on heating up your stylus to keep the wax flowing.

Step 3 – Dip your egg in Yellow dye for at least 10 minutes. Make sure your dyes are cold before placing your egg in them.  Use a teaspoon to remove your egg gently onto a paper towel, and pat it dry.  Let it dry for a few minutes.  Follow these steps after each dye.

Step 4 – Using the #2 pencil again, draw the lines that will be yellow in your design, then go over them with wax as above.  With the use of a toothpick or Q-tip, dipped in Green food color, fill the inside sections of the star.

Step 5 – Dip your yellow egg in Orange dye, and keep it there for at least 10 minutes.

Step 6 – Draw all the lines that you want to have orange, and go over them with hot wax, as in step 2.  Also, fill in with wax, any areas which you want to have orange.

Step 7 – Dip the orange egg in Red dye, and keep it in for at least 10 minutes.

Step 8 – Draw all the lines you want to be red and go over them with hot wax, as in step 2.  Also, fill in with wax, any areas which you want to have red.

Step 9 – Dip the red egg in Black dye, and keep it in for at least 15 minutes or longer.

Step 10 – Remove the egg from the black dye, pat it dry with a paper towel, and expose the waxed egg to the heat of the candle flame (side not top of the flame) to melt off the wax, a small area at a time, and wipe away gently with a paper towel, repeating the process until all the wax has melted, and has been wiped off.

Step 11 – You can leave your egg as is, or for a shiny finish and to preserve the vibrant color, cover the egg with oil-based polyurethane (use disposable gloves) and leave it overnight to dry off on the egg dryer board.  You can make this board by drawing thin nails all the way through into a piece of thin plywood, so that they stick out at least an inch on the other side, and are spaced out enough so an egg can rest on at least three nail tips, for support.  These eggs will need to dry for a couple of days or longer.

Step 12 – Make a small hole at the tip of the egg (you can use a skinny drill), and expel the egg fluids out of it, stand it on the egg dryer rack once more, with the hole down, so that any leftover fluids can drip out.  Once you have successfully completed all the steps, your plain white egg magically transformed into a beautiful Pysanka.  Now you are ready to start another one…..believe me, you will not stop after just one… will be hooked on this craft, challenging yourself each time to a more intricate design.


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