Have you ever made a pysanky egg, also known as Ukrainian Easter eggs? If you haven’t, the time has come. This year, Ukrainian Easter is celebrated on April 24th but in North America, we celebrate this weekend. For the next week, it’s time to get down for some serious egg decorating. If you got supplies at home, great. If not, it’s no big deal because they’re going on sale in a day or two. You are about to take part in a very old Easter tradition that is steeped in superstition.
From making Pysanky eggs to finding supplies, this article will tell you everything you need to know. To get you in the spirit, start with a CLN online Easter egg hunt; here is a pysanky egg wordsearch!
What’s the deal with pysanky eggs?
The word pysanky comes from the verb ‘pisać’, which means to write. They are made using a wax resistance technique; basically, you’re using wax to write on an egg. This old tradition has been adopted across the globe but many don’t realize that it’s surrounded by superstition. From the colors that you choose to the designs on the egg, everything is significant and holds a hidden meaning. According to folklore, pysanky eggs created powerful magic.
Colour order and folklore
White – Purity, Light
Yellow – Youth, Happiness
Orange – Strength, Endurance
Pink – Success, Contentment
Red – Love, Hope
Blue – Truth, Good Health
Green – Spring, New Growth
Purple – Royalty, Patience
Black – Eternity
DIY Pysanky Eggs
- 1 white egg – it’s not a bad idea to have a couple of backups on hand in case you break your egg
- Egg dye – dollar store egg making kits will work but beet dye works best
- Small beeswax candle or chunk of beeswax – beeswax is a necessity because of the way it sticks to the egg.
- White vinegar
- Kistka – this wax pouring tool is a necessity for making pysanky eggs.
The majority of the supplies that you need can be found at the grocery store or pharmacy. However, a kistka is a very specialized tool. When it comes to getting supplies, there are basically three options:
1, In-store – If you live in Canada and need to find a kistka or other supplies, click here. This site lists all the stores that sell pysanky eggs-making supplies and it’s sorted by province.
2, Online – You can always find a kistka online but it probably won’t arrive in time. Also, the quality can’t be assured.
3, Make your own – There are two types of kistkas, one has a cone-shaped funnel, and the other looks like a pin on a handle. If you can’t find a cone funnel kistka, you can easily make the other type. To do this, hammer a nail into the end of a dowel. If that’s not doable, stick a pin in the end of an eraser.
Pysanky Egg Instructions
Step 1 – Clean the egg
Fill a small bowl with warm water and two tablespoons of vinegar. Leave the eggs to soak for about 5 minutes and dry with a paper towel. This step will clean the eggshells so that the dye can adhere evenly.
Step 2 – Empty the egg
Make a small hole at the top of the egg and a bigger one at the bottom.
To do this:
- use a thumbtack and slowly turn the egg in circular motions.
- Apply gentle pressure until a hole forms.
- Once both holes are made, blow through the top to empty the contents.
- Run water through the holes to rinse the inside of the egg and leave it to dry completely.
To be totally honest, this part kind of blows. Here are a couple of tips to make it easier:
- Shake up the egg so it’s scrambled on the inside.
- Get creative – Use a can of computer duster to help blow the contents out of the egg (Warning – If you’re going to do this, hold the egg firmly. Otherwise, it’s going to fly.)
Step 3 – Map out your design
Use a pencil to lightly map out your design. Start by drawing a vertical and horizontal line around the egg to use as a guide.
Step 4 – Draw on the egg in wax
Note – At this stage, the wax designs you put on the egg will be white.
If using a pinhead kistka:
Light the beeswax candle and let it burn until a small pool of wax has formed. Dip the pinhead into the melted wax and drag it along the eggshell like a paintbrush. Work quickly.
If using a cone funnel kistka:
Light the beeswax candle and hold the cone funnel end over the fire. After a couple of seconds, use the large side to scrape beeswax from the side of the candle. As you do this, the wax will melt into the funnel and pour out through the fine tip. Work quickly and drag the fine tip along the eggshell.
Step 5 – Dye the egg
Before you begin dyeing your eggs, close the small hole at the top and bottom with a little bit of wax. This will prevent any dye from getting inside the egg. Beginning with the lightest shade, dip your egg in a cup of dye for 2 to 3 minutes. Wipe it and leave it to dry for a few minutes.
Step 6 – Add more designs
Repeat step 4 and draw on the egg to add yellow lines and designs. When finished, repeat step 5 and dye the egg in the next colour.
In the end, you’re going to have an egg that is covered in wax. If it looks kind of gnarly, don’t worry because it’s supposed to.
Step 7 – The big reveal
It’s finally time to remove the wax for the big reveal! Slowly move your wax-coated egg through the candle flame. Then, quickly and carefully wipe it with a paper towel. Repeat the process as many times as you need to remove all the wax. This will reveal the design underneath and varnish the egg.
Hot tip – Instead of a candle, you can use a heat gun or blow dryer to melt the wax. Word to the wise: be careful. It’s easy to get careless and overconfident at this final stage. Speaking from personal experience, nothing sucks more than breaking your egg as you reveal the design.