(From Pam in Oregon)
Nearly twenty years ago I took a community ed class that taught this technique of egg decorating. The teacher was very skilled but she did not make traditional patterns; she made landscape scenes, most memorably Mt. Hood, on large goose eggs. Over the years I have done this technique with my kids, both at home and in art classes at our parochial school. Every year someone asks "are we going to do Ukrainian eggs this year?" (We don't do them every year.) Recently I heard that my newly married daughter bought a kit and spent time with her new husband making some eggs. It is very fun but takes a bit of time to understand. One practice egg is usually enough to get the idea.
The technique requires special dyes that are deep and intense. Two years ago I bought dyes and after using them I put them away. We are using them again this year. I think the vinegar in them preserves them well enough.
The technique also requires a special tool called a "kitska".
The idea is to draw designs and block out spaces with beeswax that is applied with the kitska. The artist scrapes some beeswax into the brass cone on the kitska and warms it in a candle flame to melt the wax. The liquid wax streams out of the tip of the brass cones and the artist can draw. (If anyone is interested in seeing this done, there are oodles of videos on Youtube.)
The tricky part (aside from the need to practice drawing well with wax) is to understand that you need to work with negative spaces. The colors are layered, from lightest to darkest, and the wax blocks the absorption of the dye, so whatever color you are drawing on is the color the line will stay.
It also takes much patience to layer each element of a design in wax. Some kids get impatient with the time it takes.
This is a goose egg that I was working on. I had applied some wax on it when it was white, then I dipped it in yellow and made the centers of flowers. In this photo I had dipped it in pink and applied wax for the flower petals. Next it went into the green and I ended with blue.
These two eggs are finished but covered in wax. The final step is to melt the wax off by putting them in an oven.
I have a little toaster oven and pretty much the only time I use it is when we make Psanki eggs!
This is how the eggs look after the excess wax is removed and they are polished up.
Before I sign off, I thought you might like to see the next stage of spring here- the daffodils!
It wasn't raining today so I was able to finish pruning and fertilizing the blueberry bushes and I even put a few seeds in (lettuce, spinach, radishes and scallions). There is still much, much spring work to be done.