Egg Decorating Supplies
An old Latin proverb says “All life comes from an egg” and is based
on the basic biological model that all life is created from it. Around
the world there are legends of the entire universe being formed from an
egg and traditions handed down from the distant past demonstrate
humanity’s deep-seated relationship with the egg. As such, it isn’t
unusual that almost all ancient cultures hold the egg as an emblem of
life. However, how the egg came to be associated with Easter is a point
Despite numerous assertions that Easter eggs were initially pagan
symbols, there isn’t any solid evidence to support the claim. Persian
culture has a tradition of decorating eggs during the spring equinox. In
Egypt the tradition is to decorate eggs during Sham el-Nessim, a spring
holiday celebrated after the Christian Easter holiday. Russian and
Ukrainian cultures also have a strong tradition of decorating eggs, with
renowned Russian jeweler and artist Peter Carl Fabergé crafting
impressively ornate eggs made of precious metals and gemstone for the
Russian Court. Today, using eggs as a canvas is so popular that egg
artists formed the International Egg Art Guild to promote the craft of
egg decorating. Many modern egg artists decorate their eggs by painting,
etching or carving, whereas others cover eggs with paper or fabric
before being painted in bright spring colors.
Pysanky Ukrainian Easter Eggs Decorating Technique
The Ukrainian intricate egg-decorating technique of pysanky originated
around 980 A.D. A pysanka is a brilliantly designed Ukrainian Easter egg
adorned with a traditional Ukrainian folk design. Pysanka comes from
the word pysaty, meaning "to write," because the designs are not painted
on the egg, but written using beeswax. In pysanky each different image
and color has specific meanings and the finished pysanky is a symbol of
life, happiness and hope, as well as awaking and rebirth.
The procedure involves applying a multilayered design to the shell of an
egg using melted beeswax and a stylus. The process of wax etching is
similar to batik, with a stylus being used to apply the melted beeswax
to the egg shell. The wax works to seal the dye onto the egg shell and
the colors and pattern are exposed when the wax is removed by melting it
off when the design is completed. The eggs are dipped into a series of
colored-dye baths that progress from lighter to darker shades, and
executing the painstakingly-detailed process can take up to 11 hours to
complete just one egg.
Needed Tools and Supplies
There are six basic colors of dyes used in pysanka: yellow, orange,
light green, light blue, scarlet and black. Note the pysanka eggs
require special dyes, and not regular food-coloring dyes, or the
finished eggs will not look as vibrant.
A special stylus called a “kistka’ is used to apply the beeswax to the
egg shell and consists of a wooden handle with a brass funnel that is
secured to the handle with copper wire. The funnel is typically heated
over the flame of a candle and the wax is then scooped up with the
funnel. The wax flows out of the heated funnel to apply the design to
the egg shell.
Beeswax is best suited to use in pysanka as candle wax is not nearly as an effective of a blocker of the dye.
An egg blower, consisting of a large bulb with a small hole on the end
with a sharp metal spike, is used to carefully drill holes through the
top and bottom of the egg shell.
A syringe is used to suck out the egg whites and yoke. Be sure to get a
syringe that has a very fine needle so as not to risk cracking the shell
by trying to insert a needle that is too thick.
A coat of varnish will help protect the finished egg as well as giving
it a shiny finish. Any clear gloss varnish or shellac will work, but be
sure to test it on an inconspicuous area of the egg first.
A drying rack will hold the eggs securely while the dye and paint set up.
An egg stand, to display the finished egg.
All or most of these tools can be purchased together in a decorating kit.
Additional Household Supplies
Any type of raw eggs will work for pysanka, but be sure the eggs are room temperature to avoid cracking.
Add one teaspoon of white vinegar to a cup of water to clean the eggs.
Spread out newspaper, to keep your work area clean.
Tissues are handy to blot the kistka and to pat the eggs dry when removed from the dye.
Candles are generally to melt the wax in the kistka and to melt the wax off of the finishes egg.
Spoons are used to dip the eggs into the dye baths.