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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Psanky Ukranian Easter Egg Painting

A productive afternoon of Psanky while sipping zavarka samovar. I was very lucky to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon with our gracious host and six crafty ladies. We have accomplished something extra-ordinary. Psanky takes a bit of planning and designing, and lot of faith. Note that these are completely raw eggs, and the making of one egg took about 3 hours! To preserve the egg entirely, one should shellac the egg and then blow out the egg. Daring!

The finished masterpieces.
A good egg.

Start with a white raw egg, sketch the design lightly in pencil. Apply the first lines of wax with the kiska tool to mask the areas that will remain white. Think of fine white lines, do not cover up too much area, number one rookie mistake!

Progressive layers of colour, lightest to darkest.

I dip the egg in yellow. Think of a reverse mask; whatever is covered with wax black) shall remain white. Next I the wax to draw the lines of wheat, the bee, and yellow parts of the flower etc. Then I dip the egg in orange, masking more parts of the flower and other designs to preserve orange.
Orange dye. Red is next.

I have an intermediate step different than the other ladies. I use a q-tip to apply green to the leaves, sparingly instead of dipping the whole egg in green. Guess what I have to do preserve the green? I should've done the stems green as well, but I had masked those in the first step. Then I dip in the egg in red and this is the final part of the design.I apply extra red hearts to keep more red!

A different way to segment the egg.

This is Kathia's egg. The deer symbolize hunting. She refers to her Nordic ancestry. The handiwork of an Engineer, look at that precision and symmetry!
Synthetic dyes.

Jars of dye. Traditional dyes were made from natural materials like onion skin, berries, soot etc using secret family recipes.
The ultimate reveal...

I dip the egg in black dye and I let it steep for a deep dark black. The last step is to melt the wax and wipe away the wax with tissues. We used vanilla scented candles as the open flame. The host also provided a blow torch which is a traditional method for the brave I suppose. Imagine the damage!

The last step before the final reveal. This is symbolic to me. The egg is so icky looking and lumpy and black, like the part when Jesus dies on the cross and they take him down to bury. For three days he is in Hades, the belly of Jonah's whale, in North America preaching to native Indians or in China doing the same, whatever. But on Easter Sunday, He is the Risen one; glorious and victorious.
White daisies turned out well.

The documentation identifies 10 ways to divide the egg in terms of variety of basic designs. It appears that  Brenda and Eleanor have made a gated design, when the lines are drawn from the top to bottom of the egg in segments.  The gated design represents the gates of heaven and this type of egg is normally given to older people. I see it must be a mindset or underlying preference. What does it all mean?

Apparently, I made a Vinochok, popular style of Psanky that comes from the word Vinky for poetry expressing a girl's wish for freedom.   I used a simple three garland design, the three circles represent three parts of human existence - the hopes in birth marriage and life. This is a traditional style of an egg for a younger girl.

Bee. A symbolizes hard work and pleasantness, providing honey, wax and pollination of plants. I chose a bee in my design because Deborah means "industrious bee" in Hebrew.

Wheat. A plentiful harvest.  For many centuries, the wheat symbolized the life's work of a Ukrainian peasant.

Flower. Represents beauty and children. Apparently flowers have little mystical significance.

Sun. The source of life, it's radiant beams. The solar design can appear as a circle, a flower, spiral or star-like. I didn't mean to do it or maybe I did, by coincidence. Can you see my sun inside the center of the flower?

Hearts. Love, love, love.

Star. Represents success. Stars were usually drawn with even number of points for symmetry of design.

Fish. I suppose this could be a reference to the miracle of the multiplication of the fish and bread, two fish and five loaves of bread to be exact, that fed 5,000 men not counting the women and children.  In Chinese culture, two fish is a symbol of luck in terms of fate and destiny. The word fish sounds like the sort of luck you have when you meet "the one true love".

Helena's egg top left. Like circuitry!
Brenda and Eleanor choose geometric designs.

We are missing Dee's egg but her design contained a star or a snowflake, wheat and dots. Happy Easter!

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