**UPDATED July 17, 2017**
You have surely seen them: brightly-colored Easter eggs varnished to a bright sheet and bearing highly-detailed designs drawn from traditional Christian symbols and motifs. These are not your usual store-bought dyed Easter eggs. They are something far more exquisite: Ukrainian Pysanky eggs.
Ukranian Easter egg decorating has been handed down through many generations. Nancy Chetry generously shared her heritage crafting these eggs with members of Grace on thee morning of Saturday, April 1. “Come and join in the fellowship and the spirit of the Lenten season,” she invited, and 17 women and girls arrived at the church to learn how to make their own Pysanky eggs. Explaining the process of creating Pysanky designs and then scribing the eggs to dye them, Nancy recalled seeing her grandmother at her art and shared her joy in watching her own grandchildren learn.
Participants brought hard boiled eggs, paper towels, candles and candle holders. Nancy provided each person with the special tool used for centuries to make these special works of art. Called a kistka, it is metal tipped, designed to be heated in the flame of the candle and then dipped into a wedge of beeswax, which has a low melting point making it easier to apply. The kistka is then used to carefully apply wax to the egg to block out the design. Finally the egg goes into one of the colored dye baths. The process requires patience, a steady hand, and the ability to plan for a progression of color dye applications.
Pysanky egg decorating also demands concentration. One participant said she found it much like meditation. The designs incorporate traditional Christian symbols and motifs. They signify important and familiar concepts: a rose star represents Christ and God’s love of man; flowers symbolize wisdom, beauty and elegance; a pine tree reminds of growth and eternal life; hearts are love; and butterflies mean resurrection; triangles are the Holy Trinity; and a fish represents Christ and Christianity.
Throughout the morning the Grace Pysanky artists worked with care on one or more eggs. They happily shared ideas, artistic suggestions and personal observations. Each trip to the dye jars to add a new layer of color to an egg prompted supportive comment. “We were creating our own very individual works of art based on the images of Ukrainian heritage and Christian faith, and each one of us came up with our own unique and beautiful designs,” one person said. “We learned so much with Nancy’s guidance in an atmosphere of love and mutual support…and we had so much fun!”
Expressions of faith can be found in all sorts of ways and places. The morning spent with Nancy making Pysanky decorated Easter eggs certainly was a time of faith and fellowship. The day’s success was such that Nancy is considering an expanded set of lessons for next year.
Pysanky Class Saturday, April 1, 2017 (9am – 12)
During the season of Lent learn how to make Ukrainian Easter eggs (Pysanky) with the signs and symbols of this holy season. This artform is similar to a batiking process where the eggs are decorated using a stylus dipped in beeswax then dipped into dye. The wax preserves the current color of the egg. Repeating the process, more designs are applied to the egg which is then dipped into a different color dye. The process continues, proceeding from the lightest color to the darkest. When the wax is removed a beautiful multicolored egg results.
You don’t need to be an artist to enjoy the beauty of this Easter craft. Wear an apron or old T-shirt in case your clothing comes in contact with the dye. See the sign-up sheet on the UMW bulletin board across from the Wesley room. There will be a list of supplies for you to bring along with you. Cost is $7.
Come and join in the fellowship and the spirit of the Lenten season. For more information, contact Nancy Chetry at email@example.com.