What are Pysanky?

Pysanky are the colourful decorated eggs made with beeswax and dyes in a technique akin to batik. The tradition started in Ukraine in ancient pagan times. The name pysanky (singular pysanka) is derived from the Ukrainian verb pysaty - to write. It is pronounced PIH-sahn-kih (with the emphasis on the first syllable “PIH”). Similarly, the singular decorated egg is the word “pysanka” and it is pronounced PIH-sahn-kah.

The art of writing Ukrainian pysanky has been handed down from generation to generation. These beautiful pysanky were made by expert and best-selling author Joan Brander who learned the tradition from her grandmother whom she called "Baba".

A sun motif dominates this colourful display of pysanky Ukrainian Easter eggs made the traditional way with beeswax, kistka and dyes A vibrant red and blue poppy amidst a colourful display of dozens of pysanky Ukrainian Easter eggs made the traditional way with beeswax, kistka and dyes makes a beautiful statement of love Gorgeous pysanky Ukrainian Easter eggs made the traditional way with beeswax, kistka and dyes displayed in a beautiful wooden bowl are a legend of magic and mystery

How are Pysanky Made?

People are fascinated with how these beautiful empty eggshells are decorated. They are not made with stencils, paint, or crayons, nor are they simply dipped into food coloring. The basic tools required are:

  • beeswax — designs are written on the egg with melted beeswax; the beeswax resists the colours of the dye
  • dyes — a variety of colours, both natural (onion skins, beets, walnut husks) and synthetic water-based, are used
  • kistka — this tool guides melted beeswax on the egg in hand-made designs (also goes by names such as tjanting or stylus)

Traditional symbols, designs and patterns include:

  • geometric shapes
  • plant symbols
  • animal motifs
These symbols, designs and patterns are applied to the egg with the kistka. The eggs are dipped into successivly darker dye baths. At the end of the process the beeswax is removed to reveal a dazzling display of colour. This is what you can expect to accomplish at a beginner's workshop with Joan Brander:
1. Apply beeswax with a kistka
2. Dye the egg — repeat
3. Melt the beeswax
4. Discover the Magic!

Learn to Make Pysanky with Joan Brander

Go to these pages on this website for more information:

Joan Brander in her Pysanky Studio in Richmond Making pysanky is easy, fun, and affordable With the right tools and proper instruction, anyone from 6 to 96 can make pysanky
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