Storage

 


Now that you’ve made a bunch of pysanky, what do you do with them?  Well, you can give them away, but you’ll want to keep some for yourself as well. You’ll want to display some of them, but not necessarily all of them, and not necessarily at once.

You don’t need any fancy expensive containers to store away your collection of pysanky.  The simpler, actually, the better.  Many of the collectors I know in Ukraine store them in flats in large egg boxes.  These are some of Vira Manko’s huge collection of pysanky: the cardboard egg trays/flats are stacked in a cardboard box for safe-keeping:


She manages to store several thousand pysanky in a very small space this way.

Similar boxes of eggs are available in the US, but only for bulk commercial buyers (e.g. restaurants).  Costco now sells its cage free eggs in packages of two flats with a plastic cover; these eggs are of decent quality, and usually take dye well.  I save the flats, and find they fit perfectly in a 12” x 12” x 12” box (which I bought in bulk from Staples).  One such box can store five flats, or 150 eggs.


What is the best way to store your pysanky?

It is important to keep the eggs out of direct light.  Aniline dyes are not light stable, so direct light (particularly sunlight) light can fade the colors if you’re not careful  Thus you need to put the pysanky away in some sort of closed boxes where light won’t reach them.

The type of boxes you need depends almost entirely on what kind of pysanky you have.  If you empty your eggs, and save only decorated shells, you have many more good options.  If you leave the yolk and white in your pysanky, your choices will be much more limited (but your magical powers will be infinitely greater....).


FULL EGGS:

Storing pysanky that haven’t been emptied is problematic, as they are sensitive to not only light, but heat and motion. If you don’t wish to empty your pysanky, you should probably not varnish them until they have dried out completely.  Some  points to keep in mind:

  1. 1.Store the eggs in a dark place.  As noted before, light will fade the colors. 

  2. 2.Store the eggs in a cool place.  As eggs age, the white and yolk begin to decompose, and they produce gases, notably hydrogen sulfide, when they do so. Heat will cause the gas inside the egg to expand, and this can sometimes cause cracks (with resultant leakage) or explosions (with flying debris).  In either case, the smell can be horrendous!
    Varnished eggs trap gases much more than unvarnished ones do.  Gases can usually escape through the pores of an unvarnished eggshell. Conversely, unvarnished eggs which have small cracks (that were either missed during candling or occurred during the pysanka making process) are much more likely to leak than explode.
    The egg contents will usually rot and dry up over time.  If the egg breaks open before the contents have dried up, it will stink.  Eggs stored in a cool location are somewhat less likely to rot.

  3. 3.Do not expose pysanky to extremes of heat or cold.  Heat can cause expansion of gases, as noted above.  Cooling the pysanky too much can cause it to “sweat” when it warms up again, i.e. to cause condensation to form.  The condensation can wash away the dye from the surface of the shell and ruin the pysanka.
    Additionally, and egg’s contents–the white and yolk–are largely composed of water.  Unlike most other substances which contract when they cool, water expands. A fresh full egg which is frozen or cooled too much might over-expand and break. 

  4. 4.Do not shake or agitate the pysanky.  Doing so can stir up the gases and cause leakage or eruption.  It is useful, though, to carefully turn the egg every once in a while, so that the egg contents don’t dry in a lump in one spot and turn your pysanka into a Weeble (an egg that will stand only in one position).  One way to avoid this outcome is to turn the egg on a regular basis while it is drying; this will prevent the contents getting stuck to one particular place on the shell.


   

  1. Weeble toy and weeble pysanka


  2. 5.Do not store unemptied pysanky in air tight containers; it is best if air can circulate around the eggs.  Paper egg cartons are good for this for this. 


           


    Avoid styrofoam (plastic) cartons or any boxes or containers that seal tightly, like tupperware or plastic shoe boxes.
  3. 6.Keep in mind that even if you do everything right, things can still go wrong.  You may wish to space out newer pysanky in their cartons, keeping them far apart.  Should one egg explode, it will spatter egg contents over all the adjacent eggs.  If they are varnished, the egg “goo” can usually be washed off; if they are not, the goo will ruing the dyed shells. (It is worth it, for this reason alone, to give your unvarnished pysanky a light coating of vaseline/petroleum jelly.)
    A leaking egg might ooze through to adjacent compartments, either soaking through the cardboard dividers or flowing over them. 
    It might be worth loosely wrapping pysanky with tissue before placing them in their slots to protect them from their neighbors.

  4. 7.Never store pysanky loosely in a box; if accidentally moved, they can bump together and crack. Make sure they are somehow restrained and kept apart, e.g. by wrapping them in paper towels or tissue.


EMPTY EGGS:

Storing emptied eggs is a much simpler proposition.  They are less likely to break that full eggs, and, if they do, will not cause any further problems beyond deep, deep despair. 

  1. 1.Keep out of direct sunlight or other bright light.  Aniline dyes will fade with prolonged exposure to bright light.  Royal blue seems to be particularly prone to this.

  2. 2.Keep the eggs from knocking into each other.  Make sure they are somehow restrained. You can do this by keeping them in an egg carton (any type), or wrapping them individually with tissue and nestling them in a box. Air circulation is not an issue once they've been drained and have dried out completely. 

I used to store all of my empty pysanky in styrofoam egg cartons.  Why?  Many reasons:

  1. BulletAvailability.  In my area, almost all eggs are sold in styrofoam cartons. Not only do I buy my eggs in them, but friends and family save them for me.

  2. BulletUtility.  These cartons are easy to label; I just write on them with a sharpie.  That way I always know what is inside any given carton.

  3. BulletStackability. The cartons are quite light and can be stacked on one another for easy storage.  I pile them up inside those brown legal storage boxes or in plastic milk crates;  I can stack the cartons three across and six high.

  4. BulletResponsibility.  There is recycling of some plastics in my area, but not styrofoam.  By reusing these cartons, I am keeping them out of the landfill.

  5. BulletDurability.  The cartons are light but strong, and were created specifically to store and protect eggs.  I have dropped many a carton in my time, but have never had an egg (empty sort) break on me.  Keep in mind, though, that if you drop a very heavy object onto a carton, all bets are off.

  6. BulletPortability.  They are easy to schlep around.  They fit extremely well inside most handled grocery bags, either cloth or paper, and perfectly, two cartons abreast, in my sari bags.



Paper cartons have become much more available, so I use those now, too.  And a few years ago I acquired several antique embroidery floss cabinets form a good friend; her husband has created dividers in the drawers from folded paper which fit chicken egg pysanky perfectly:














I now store most of my pysanka collection in my cabinets.........when they’re not at our local museum. Please not that the fronts of the cabinets are not in direct sun!





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Storing Pysanky