Egg Instruction Booklet March 05 2014, 0 Comments

As promised, here is the instruction booklet on egg symbols and colors. It's a collection of information that I have put together over the years I've been making them. 

Ukrainian Easter Eggs (Pysanky):
Ukrainian eggs (Pysanky) are unique works of art made by dying real eggs, blowing them out and varnishing them.

Pysanky comes from a Ukrainian verb 'pysaty' which means to write, so actually a pysanka is an egg that is written on.

Pysanky is an ancient and beautiful form of folk art from the Ukraine. The art of making these eggs goes back to approximately the year 988, when the Ukrainians accepted Christianity. Before that, according to Ukrainian legend, people decorated eggs believing that great powers were embodied in the egg. To them, eggs symbolized the release of the earth from the shackles of winter in the coming of spring with its promises of new hope, new life and prosperity, and that as long as Pysanky were decorated, goodness would prevail over evil throughout the world.

A pagan legend maintains the sun God was the most important of all the deities; birds were the sun God's chosen creations for they were the only ones who could get near him. Humans could not catch the birds, but they did manage to obtain the eggs the birds laid. Thus, the eggs were magical objects, a source of life.

Many ancient Ukrainians believed the eggs possessed magical powers and that wealth could be obtained by decorating the eggs with certain symbols. When Christianity was introduced into the Ukraine, 700–800 years ago, the symbols changed and others were added to reflect Christianity, the resurrection and a promise of eternal life.

How to make Pysanky eggs:
Pysanky consists of decorating real eggs using beeswax and dyes. As the egg goes through a series of dye baths, from light to dark colors, designs are drawn on the shell with hot wax after each dyeing.

Hot wax is applied to the egg using a kistka. The kistka is a tool whereby hot wax can be essentially drawn onto the egg. Kistkas can be purchased, or built by the user. Some are simply a stick with wire holding a tiny stick perpendicular at the end of the larger piece. This type of kistka is dipped in hot wax. Another type is a copper or brass cone attached to the end of a stick. Wax is then placed in the cone. The cone is heated until the wax melts and flows out the end of the cone. An electric version of the kistka is also available.

The design begins by drawing on a plain white egg with hot beeswax. These lines will protect the white when the egg is dyed. When the designs to be white are complete, the egg is dipped into yellow dye and then dried. The kistka is used to draw the designs to remain yellow and then the egg is dipped into the next dye bath. The process continues, alternating waxing designs and using dyes that progressively get darker. The most popular Pysanky, end with the black dye. Once the black dye is dry, the egg is held over the side of a candle flame and gently the beeswax is wiped off revealing the beautifully designed multicolored egg. The final process is to seal the egg with a coating of shellac or varnish.

The process – although looking difficult – is very simple. It is a long process and takes a steady hand, time and patience.

Important information about your egg:

  • Do not put the egg in direct sunlight such as in a window. The sun will bleach the dye.
  • Since your egg has been blown and hollowed out, the shell is extremely fragile, do not put any pressure on the egg for it will break.
  • Do not get the egg wet.

Colors/Symbols and their meanings:

Everything has a meaning in the ancient art form of Ukrainian egg decorating; color, along with various symbols, sends a message at times to the recipient of the gift of an egg.

White: purity, innocence, birth
Yellow: wisdom, youth, happiness, spirituality, hospitality
Orange: endurance, strength, worthy ambition
Pink: contentment
Red: passion, hope, love, beauty
Red + white: protection from evil
Green: innocence, freshness, hopefulness
Blue: good health
Purple: faith, trust, reverence, loyalty, patience
Brown: mother Earth and her gifts
Black: eternity, remembrance