Monday, July 20, 2009

Two rediscovered Ukrainian Easter eggs

This picture is of two Ukrainian Easter eggs I made over 20 years ago. I found them while hunting for some beeswax for the Judge. She wanted to dye a pair of shorts black and wanted a way for a few small areas of the garment to resist the dye. I found the beeswax and with it over 12 hollow hen eggs in a carton and two duck eggs ready for pysanky dying, along with special the dyes needed to color them all.

I became fascinated with this art form when it was featured in a story in the April 1972 National Geographic Magazine. Titled Easter Greetings from the Ukrainians, it told of the Orthodox Easter customs in both Ukraine and here in the Minneapolis area. I still have my copy, but have never scanned the article. However, this web page includes several images from that article and provides all information on how to make them. If memory serves, the article referred to the Ukrainian Gift Shop in Roseville, MN, a Minneapolis suburb that has a large Ukrainian immigrant population. Two women owned the shop, published books about the eggs, and sold all the supplies needed to create them. I was hooked and promised myself that one day, I would learn how to create those eggs. Around 1983, I got my wish when we drove from Santa Fe, NM to Minneapolis, MN one summer to visit my sister-in-law and her sons. We located the shop; I bought an egg made by the owners, their books, dyes, and other supplies. I could not wait to get home and start making Ukrainian Easter eggs in June.

True eggs dyed in the Ukrainian fashion are actually whole to allow for the best coverage of the dyes. Over time, the contents of the whole eggs should eventually dry and turn to dust. However, until that happens, do not crack or break the egg because the house will smell of rotten eggs! Once I tried dying the whole egg. It was red with accent colors of green, orange, yellow, and white. I think I either gave or sold the egg to a woman who was my supervisor. It sat on her desk for several months; it was very similar in design to the egg on the left. However, one day, something slipped and toppled the egg over off its special stand. Consequently, we had to keep the back door open to our work area for a while. The egg had become sufficiently ripe and gooey.

These eggs in this box could have started out wholly died, and been just fine all these years. With no cracks and kept in the dark they are perfect. For years, they remained in a box in the hall closet along with all hollowed chicken and goose eggs and dyes, patterns, and beeswax needed to transform their white surface. Perhaps I will finish those eggs one of these days. In the meantime, the LearnPysanky site also provides more information and offers all the supplies needed to make Ukrainian Easter eggs.

1 comment:

Krystal said...

What a wonderful treasure to find. I wish I could find the time to tap into my creative side. Thanks for posting such wonderful blogs. :)

Sometimes you need to get away from it all.

And sometimes, it's time to return and be part of the larger world.  Between the first of 2023 and February 14, I painted many watercolo...