Monday, April 5, 2010

Crafternoon: Egg Dyeing at A Whole New Level

About a week ago my super creative and crafty friend Jeanne started posting photos of beautiful eggs on her Facebook page. Each day her posts included photos revealing more and more beautiful eggs.

If you've been following me you know I have a thing for, naturally I was intrigued. 
I asked Jeanne if she'd teach me this technique -- and she agreed to teach me today. I just returned from this late morning/early crafternoon with Jeanne and -- WOW I am totally hooked.

First, a little background…
A pysanka (plural: pysanky) is a Ukranian Easter egg, decorated using a wax-resist method (think batik). The word pysanka comes from the verb pysaty, "to write", as the designs are not painted, but written with hot beeswax. are a symbol of life. Great care is taken in making these eggs—each color, symbol and design carrying great significance (read more about the symbols, colors, etc.) According to Wikipedia, a large family typically creates 60 or more eggs by Holy Thursday, takes them to church on Easter Sunday to be blessed, then gives them away to family and respected outsiders. A bowl full of pysanky is typically kept in the home, serving not only as a colorful display, but also as a protection from dangers.

Now, back to crafting—making psyanky.
The process, in a nutshell, involves using psyanky tools (metal pen-like tools that are “filled” with beeswax and heated) and beeswax to “write” designs (we used a catalog of samples as our inspiration) on white eggs. The eggs are then dipped in dye (one or more colors, depending on your design)—the dye affixing to the egg wherever wax hasn’t been applied.

I picked what I believed to be a relatively simple design and began by drawing grid lines to help guide my drawing. (I just read a tip that you can put elastic bands around the egg to accomplish this without pencil marks.) Then, using the psyanky tools, drew my design with wax. I first dipped my egg in yellow dye to create yellow flowers. Then, I put wax on the yellow flowers and dipped my egg in orange dye. Before dipping into my final color (blue), I put wax over the orange areas in order to ensure they remained orange. After letting the dye dry a bit, I melted the wax off the egg by candle flame.

And, ta-da, my first psyanky egg.

Okay, it is far from a perfect work of art, but I still think it looks pretty cool…

I was lucky to have a wonderful and creative (oh, and very patient) teacher. But, I’m convinced, based on reviewing some of the materials that my teacher had on-hand, that this technique could be learned by book. A kit which includes everything you need to get started is available at Magic Cabin. But, a Google search reveals a lot of other resources, too.

A big thank you to Jeanne for adding another fun craft to my life. If only Easter wasn’t yesterday, I’d be gearing up in full force (and gladly ignoring my huge to-do list) to start cranking out psyanky eggs.

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