Folk Arts in Season: Pysanky - Ukrainian Easter Egg Art

folk arts in season Mar 19, 2024

Pysanky is the ancient Ukrainian art of egg decorating. The tradition began in Pagan times and was integrated into Christianity. Decorating eggs was originally a way of honouring the seasonal shift towards spring. Eggs tucked into the land, hearth and livestock spaces, were offerings designed to ensure good luck and eventual good harvest. The process of making these eggs uses a wax-resist method. You draw on the egg with a type of stylus called a kistka, that gets filled with melted beeswax. The kistka becomes the tool for drawing lines and designs.

Materials needed:

  • clean raw white eggs 
  • candle flame
  • beeswax block
  • kistka (wax drawing stick)
  • pysanky egg dyes (yellow, orange, red, black … or whatever calls)
  • white vinegar
  • jars for dyes
  • spoons
  • paper towels or rags

There are lots of extra tips and tricks to learn, but here are the basics ...

  1. Clean your eggs and let them come to room temperature.
  2. Prepare your dyes and set aside to cool down for later use.
  3. Prepare your work area with paper towels or tissues (to create a soft bed for the egg you are working on) and a drop cloth or newspaper underneath.
  4. Light your candle, heat the head of your kistka in the flame and scoop a little beeswax into it. Reheat it until the wax has melted, and when ready, start drawing on the egg. All the lines you draw will remain white. Reheat and refill your kistka as you go.
  5. When you are finished all ‘white’ lines, dye your egg in yellow and when it’s dry from the dye bath, move onto to drawing lines again. This time all lines you draw will remain yellow.
  6. Continue colour by colour, usually white through to yellow through to orange through to red (you can get creative with other colours).
  7. Once you’ve completed all lines in the dye bath colours, put your egg in a final dye bath of black. Everything that hasn’t already been drawn on will become black as a background colour.
  8. Once your egg is dry from the final dye bath, begin to hold the egg near the candle flame (not touching it), and allow the wax to soften. Bit by bit rub the wax off the egg with a paper towel until all the wax is removed.
  9. Celebrate the beauty and enjoy!


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