The word “pysanky” derives from the Ukrainian “pysaty,” which means “to write” or “to inscribe.” Making pysanky involves a multi-layered wax and dye process that results in beautifully decorated eggs, typically with meaningful symbols and designs.
TOOLS YOU WILL NEED
Kistka/ Pysaltse ( if you do not have or order one, you can use a pencil with a flat head pin pushed into the eraser)
Dyes – many colors – powered Ukrainian egg dyes purchased individually or in kits, or natural dyes from sources like onion skin, red cabbage, tea … *natural dyes may not produce vibrant colors the way that powdered dyes typically do
Wax – this must be beeswax, as it is the most durable and easiest to write with
White Vinegar – for preparing the powdered dyes
Candles – for heating the pysaltse to melt the wax
Wide Lid Jars – for dye baths
Spoons – for dipping and removing eggs from dye baths
Spray Varnish – this is options, but helps to preserve the eggs after completion
Egg Blower – helps to remove the white and yolk of the egg to preserve your pysanka
Paper Towels, Tissue, Newspaper – for removing dye and protecting work surface
HOW TO MAKE PYSANKA : Step by step
- Begin with setting an intention and planning a design that encompasses that intention, meaning – select symbols and colors that will reflect your intention.
- Wash your eggs in lukewarm water and vinegar to prepare the surface for writing and dyeing your design. Eggs must be completely dry, and at room temperature before applying your wax writing and dyes.
- Very lightly, draw your desired designs with pencil on the surface of the egg. Do not worry about erasing mistakes, as using the eraser may leave spots where the dye may not be absorbed by the shell as strongly.
- Heat the bowl of the pysaltse over the flame of a candle. While warm, use it to scoop up a small bit of beeswax and warm over the flame again. If using a pencil with pin, putting the wax in a small heat proof container and melting, keeping it warm and liquified, you can dip the pin in the melted wax to write with – similar to how you would use a fountain pen by dipping it in ink.
- Begin writing on the area of your design that you wish to keep white.
- When you have completed writing the areas that are to remain white, gently dip your egg into the LIGHTEST color dye of your design. (Always work lightest to darkest) Allow the egg to soak in the dye bath for several minutes until it has achieved the depth of color you want, and carefully remove with the spoon. Gently pat the egg dry with a paper towel – do not rub it dry.
- Write out the next part of your design that you wish to retain the color that you just used.
- When done, dip the egg into the next color dye that is darker than the first (but not the darkest) – continue this process until you have reached the darkest color dye for your design.
- When all of your writing and dyeing is complete – melt the beeswax on your egg over the flame of the candle. Melt a small area at a time, and do not hold the egg directly over the flame. You can use a tissue to gently remove the wax from the egg as you melt it off each small section. Continue this until all of the beeswax is removed from the egg. If soot appears from the candle or there are visible pencil marks on the lighter areas of the design, you can use a tissue with a small amount of paint thinner to remove.
- You can then use a spray varnish to lightly coat your egg and preserve your hard work.
- When dry, carefully drill a small hole and egg blower to remove the white and yolk from inside the egg to fully preserve. Be careful as this is a very delicate process, and it is easy to crack the egg if not careful.
- Admire your design and hard work!