P Is For… Pysanky!

Egg decorated by A. Catherine Noon from a design in the Ukrainian Design Book by Perchyshyn et al. Image Copyright 2014 Everett C. Wilson. Used with Permission

I adore pysanky.  I talked about the legend about them on my main blog a couple weeks ago, here.  Today, I wanted to talk more about the craft of making them, since Knoontime Knitting is about the crafts.  I was first introduced to the art of pysanky, or Ukrainian decorated eggs, when I moved to Chicago back in 1998.  The art, however, has a history stretching back 5,000 years.  The tools are reminiscent of Bronze Age technology:  the kistka, which is used to draw on the egg with melted wax, is a simple metal funnel attached to a stick with wire.  The wax is typically beeswax.   The egg…

Well, we all know where eggs come from.

But which came first, the chicken or…

Come on, I couldn’t help myself.  ANYway, pysanky is a slow process, because you draw the designs on the egg, then put it in a dye bath, then draw some more, then dye, until the design is finished.  You’re not done there, however.  You then melt the wax from the egg, using either a candle and paper towel or a melting board and an oven.  I’ve only used the candle method, though I’m curious to try the oven method one of these days.

The designs themselves have ancient history too.  The design above, for example, represents bear claws.  The colors represent the mother goddess.  The red is actually supposed to be solid, but I like how the wax didn’t quite cover it all the way and there are flecks of black in it.

That’s what pysanky teaches you:  no matter how painstakingly you work, the pysanka always has the last word.  Part of the art is about acceptance, and another is about patience.

What about you, Dear Reader?
What have your hobbies taught you?

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