Ornamenting pysankas

Ornamenting pysankas
April 20, 2011 17:40

Usually, eggs are painted both before and after the Easter. People begin ornamenting pysankas starting from Candlemas Day (February, 15th). The process lasts until the “Green holidays” or Whitsunday which falls on June, 12th this year (2011).

So everyone who hasn’t ornamented any pysankas (pysanky – Ukr. pl.) yet is able to do this within the next month and a half. There’s nothing complicated in the process.

The following materials are necessary for ornamenting pysankas:

  • an egg
  • a pysachok
  • aniline dyes of different colors
  • half-liter cans containing 2/3 of water (for diluting dyes)
  • a candle
  • bee wax
  • a pencil
  • tissue paper or cloth napkins

First it is necessary to dilute dyes in water. For this, take half-liter glass cans, filled for 2/3 with water. The water temperature should be of 38-420C.

The chosen egg requires thorough washing with warm water and careful drying with a towel.


For the paint to stick better to the eggs they should be washed without soap

By light touches, draw the pattern lines of the chosen ornament on the egg using a pencil.

взірець писанки

The lines should be barely visible not to be seen through the paint

Warm up the pysachok in the candle flame, fill it with wax and apply the wax to the lines and places which are to be white in accordance with the pattern.

малюємо писанку

We advise amateurs to begin with copying existing original pysankas instead of inventing their own ornaments

Dip the egg into vinegar for several seconds; take it out and put into a can with yellow paint (or any other paint of light shades) for 2 – 3 minutes. After taking the egg out, wipe out the paint remains carefully. Apply wax to the pattern details which are to remain of this very color. Repeat the process with all colors, starting from the lightest and finishing with the darkest ones. In the end, dip the egg into the black paint.

фарбування писанок

It’s seen clearly that the yellow paint doesn’t adhere well

There are several secrets for obtaining bright pysankas.


These pysankas were ornamented in several approaches 🙂

It’s seen in the picture that paint on several pysankas is pale. So, what does the secret lie in?

– Vinegar is the matter. It is necessary to dip the egg into the undiluted vinegar exclusively before the first coloring after the first wax lines are already applied. One should take the egg out of the vinegar very carefully, almost not touching the egg shell (because due to the vinegar impact the external layer on it softens and any touch can wipe this layer away, which makes it impossible for the paint to penetrate deeper) and dip this egg into the paint instantly without wiping it.

– The second secret worth remembering: green color after the red one (the same as red color after the green one) adheres to the egg shell poorly. That is why pysankars advise everyone to dip the egg into vinegar once again after coloring it with one of these paints. Vinegar will partially destroy the applied paint thus allowing for the next layer to adhere better


Now, the paint has stuck to the egg shell well enough!

– After the entire pattern is covered with wax and colored in the last chosen paint, some masters dip the pysanka coated with wax into warmed paraffin for the egg to acquire a thick paraffin cover: this will allow for “painless” blowing out of the egg yolk and white. For this, it is necessary to make an opening at the egg’s blunt end with a thin file or a thick needle and to blow the egg contents out using a syringe. Empty egg is washed with clean water.

The next step is cleaning pysanka from wax. For this, it is left in a special holder in a slightly warmed oven (the temperature should be about 500C) until wax and paraffin are melt down. After this the egg is taken out of the oven, wiped with clean cloth and rubbed with vegetable oil.

The wax can be wiped off the egg over candle flame. This process needs attention. If the pysanka is left over the flame for a long time, it can be charred; in this case it will be difficult to get rid of the black burns. That is why each time you should take the pysanka to the flame for only a moment quickly wiping the melted wax afterwards.


To avoid burns on the egg shell, do not leave the egg close to the flame for a long time

– Only one pysachok can serve a master for a long time. It happens a pysachok gets clogged after a long break or in the process of pysanka ornamenting.


In such case the pysachok’s opening is punched with a special metal wire

During the Easter relatives and friends present pysankas to each other. Usually, 15 or more pysankas are made. 1-2 of them are put to the Easter basket to be consecrated in the Church, 2-3 are taken to the cemetery; 1-2 are given to the priest in the Church. Partially pysankas are given out to children who come to glorify God or bring Easter cakes, and partially they are presented. It is a custom to present children with bright pysankas of light colors. Household owners receive pysankas with 40 wedges, curves and “bezkinechnyk” stars. Elder people are presented with black and white pysankas bearing “heaven’s bridges” and “belt” symbols. Young girls present red pysankas to their lovers. As for boys, they present the girls they like with shawls or beads for the Easter – they serve as hints for expected weddings. Girls leave best pysankas in water and afterwards wash themselves with this water “to be as beautiful as pysankas”


To be as beautiful as a pysanka!

Unlike painted eggs, pysankas are not used for food because they are protective talismans. Presented pysankas are kept in an honorable place till the next Easter, or much longer – sometimes for many years. They are put on plates or fastened to colorful woven lace with tassels. It is possible to make a garland from pysankas and to decorate a room. If a pysanka accidentally breaks, it should be buried in the soil; best of all – in the vegetable garden or in the field

Success in painting pysankas!

Pysankar’s environment

Photos and text from Rukotvory
Additional information from svichado.com

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