Pysanky

Once again this year we decorated eggs the Ukranian way, using beeswax and little styluses (stylii?) called kistka to draw designs on the eggs before they were dipped in an ever-darkening progression of dyes. Each layer of wax preserves the colours below, allowing for very complex and beautiful designs. I tend to stick to more traditional pysanky designs while the kids see it as a process of drawing in colours and make all sorts of wonderful sketches in wax.

As we were working through the process, I kept talking about holding the kistka in the candle flame just a little bit — just let it sort of kiss the flame so it heats up without burning the wooden handle. Somehow we needed to be reminded of that a lot.

Later, when it was time to hold the egg close to the flame (but not in it) to gently melt the layers of wax and rub it off to reveal the bright colours beneath, I once again talked about just barely kissing the flame. K announced (in all seriousness):

“There’s a lot of kissing in this process.”

Decorating eggs is fun for all ages, but pysanky require kids to be at least 4 or 5 years old and capable of following directions for working safely around a candle flame. An easy variation for younger kids is to have them colour on the eggs with a white crayon and then dip in dye for a simple wax-resist. If you are adventurous enough to try pysanky, I would suggest you skip the grocery store dyes and go for a better quality colour. The grocery store dyes are really meant for applying a single layer of colour to a white egg, but in psanky, you create layer upon layer of colour, ending with a rich, deep red or glossy black. Last year we bought our supplies in a kit (kistka, beeswax, and dyes) online from Chinaberry. This year I wasn’t nearly organized enough and just bought grocery store dyes and the results, while fun, are nowhere near as spectacular as last year’s eggs.

I hope the bunny brings you much joy tomorrow morning and many blessings for Easter and the rest of the year.

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