How to make your own Ukrainian Eggs this Easter

By Sean Delaney

Pick your egg

The most important part of your process is egg selection. You will want to find a smooth egg, without any imperfections that may get in the way of your creation. Luckily, in southern Ontario chicken farmers and roadside egg stands are plentiful. An egg from a farmer will be raised on the proper diet to make your egg hard and durable.

You will also want to drain your egg, a process which can be accomplished through a small hole in the bottom of the eggshell then plugged with beeswax. While whole eggs are used, it can be risky as over time gasses can build up within the egg that could see it later crack and leak. Clean the surface of your egg with a mild detergent, and you are ready to begin.

Creating your design

It is time to become an expert with a kistka. A kistka resembles a fountain pen, however this pen is filled with beeswax. The wax can be purchased at any arts and craft store and is typically soft and pliable. A manual kistka will be heated over an open flame and then dragged through a piece of the wax in order to fill the bowl of the kistka with the wax. The wax will turn black when melted and enable you to begin drawing black lines on the egg.

The process sees you first cover the portions of the egg you want to stay its natural colour. If you are working with a white egg, you will be covering all the portions of the egg you want to remain white.

Beeswax is used as it melts easily but then it will create a hard form that will not rub off the egg as you continue to work.

You will find electric kistka’s as well but they can be quite expensive.

Remember to draw lines away from your body and try to rotate the egg rather than move the kistka along it.

Finding your colour

Arts and crafts stores will carry several different dyes for the hobby of creating pysanky. Whatever you choose, dyeing the egg will be a process of trail and error. Some dyes will adhere to some eggs better, and it can be something that needs to be found out by trial rather than reading it on instructions.

Follow the instructions for whatever dyes you choose however and try increasing potency if you find colours are not coming out vibrantly.

It is popular to make the dyes in a cooking pot and dunk the eggs, holding them under the surface with a spoon or fork. Some pysanky makers will suggest using a plastic or Ziploc bag to put the egg and dye into to ensure a better coverage, as holding the egg under the surface in a pot can be tiresome.

Whatever you choose, remember that you are sealing layer by layer with the melted beeswax, so start at the lightest colours and work toward your darkest.

Each time an egg is dyed again, the beeswax is added again to seal in that colour, and so on. After several layers, your pattern is formed.

Unveiling your masterpiece

So, it is time to remove the wax and unveil your creation. Doing this can be trial and error as well, as there are simply a number of methods of heating the wax to remove it, and you will have to discover which you are comfortable with.

A popular method is to use the open flame, but not directly. You can hold the egg close to the flame and wipe away melted wax with a soft cloth. Some people will utilize a toaster oven on a very low heat, a hair dryer, or other household items.

Melting the wax slowly like this is time consuming and does take some care and practice.

If you hold the egg to close to the flame, or for too long in a particular position, you can develop carbon streaks on the egg. You can warm and scrape the wax with a plastic implement, being careful not to damage the egg. And cotton swabs with mineral oils or lighter fluid can be used to wipe off excess.

After the wax is removed, you will want to protect your artwork.

A polyurethane spray can be purchased and used, or you can put a few coats of varathane on the egg, creating a glossy shine that should stay with the egg as long as the memories you’ve just created.