One of the most artistic Ukrainian traditions is making Pysanky. As it is an Easter tradition for many, it is also an art form that some artists learn to perfect and it becomes a hobby or even a career. Pysanky come in all different designs and colors and each one is exquisitely different from the next. The craft does entail quite a process, and it takes time and concentration to make a beautiful egg.
The materials needed to make Pysanky include hollow eggs, different colored dyes, a kistka, wax, and a flame. The kistka is the utensil used to draw the design on the eggs with wax.
The process begins with creating a preliminary design on the eggs with melted wax. These areas of the egg will remain white in the end. After the first design has been made, the egg can soak in a jar of dye. After about half an hour, you can take the egg out and let it dry for a bit.
It is important to remember to soak the egg in the lightest dye first, and the darkest color last. If this is not done, the colors will be mixed and look different than expected. Once the first color has dried on the egg, you can create more marks with the wax. Whatever color the egg is while drawing the design, that is the color it will turn out in the end.
Continue making designs and soaking the egg in different colors until the design and color scheme is completed. Then, when the egg is completely dry, hold it to a flame and let the wax melt from the egg while rubbing it off gently with a tissue. When all the wax is melted off, the egg will be completed. Make sure not to burn the egg while holding it to the flame, or else it will blacken the exterior.
While all pysanky vary in color and design, many are created with symbolic or religious decoration. Some common traditional symbols include the sun, stars, wheat, deer, and red poppies.
Larissa Kurtz is a second-generation Ukrainian who enjoys celebrating her culture with this unique craft. “I love being able to celebrate Easter with this tradition which is distinctly a Ukrainian custom,” she said. Kurtz learned how to make pysanky as a child and makes them every Easter.
Here is a video of Kurtz showing one of her school friends how to make pysanky for the first time.