Women’s Ministry Pysanky Class
Continuing what is becoming a tradition for Easter at Grace UMC, for the second year in a row Nancy Chetry taught a class in the art of Ukrainian egg decorating, this time on Saturday, March 3. Making the eggs, called Pysanky, offered a chance to “join in the fellowship and the spirit of the Lenten season,” she said. Nine participants, ranging from teenager to octogenarian, spent the morning learning about this art form. Assisting throughout was Kathy Fitzgerald of Germantown, a fellow crafter and longtime friend of Nancy’s, who became Dye Master for the day.
Nancy described memories of Pysanky-decorating from her childhood and her pleasure in sharing the art with her own grandchildren. The centuries old Pysanky process is similar to batiking. Using a stylus called a kistka, eggs are decorated with signs and symbols of the Easter season by applying beeswax to make a design; the eggs then are dipped in a sequence of dyes, proceeding from the lightest color to the
darkest. Each application of wax in creating the design preserves the current color of the egg. So the design progresses in layers, one wax application and subsequent color dipping at a time.
At the end of the process, the wax is removed and beautiful multi-colored eggs result. As for the designs, each of the many traditional motifs has a meaning: to name only a few, stars represent Christ and God’s love of man, pine trees are symbols of growth and eternal life, there are crosses of course, and the butterfly is a reminder of resurrection.
Participants agreed that learning to make Pysanky was fun. And because making the Pysanky requires several stages, “the work of designing and dyeing the eggs has a meditative quality,” one person noted.
“I enjoyed knowing how these motifs linked my designs with those used by Christians through the ages.”
If handled carefully so the shells remain unbroken, this day’s Pysanky can last for many, many years, carrying forward their beauty and symbolic meaning to pass along to future generations.
Creative crafting, camaraderie, and Christian connection. That’s what making Pysanky has come to mean here at Grace UMC. It’s a tradition we can hope to continue for many more years.