Teaching Pysankarstvo:



Teaching a small class by yourself is easily doable.  6-12 older students are easy to manage.  But if teaching schoolchildren, or large groups (like a walk in workshop), assistants not only make your life a bit easier, they are necessary!

Assistants can help in two major ways:

  1. 1. one on one instruction

  2. 2. running the dye table

I start out my classes with an instructional move, to help them understand the process of pysankarstvo.  People learn more readily from seeing something done than from hearing it explained.  I use Slavko Nowytsky’s “Pysanka” film; if it is a long class, I will show the entire film, which explains a bit about traditions, symbolism, etc., as well as showing a pysanka being written, from start to finish, in a few minutes. If I am under time constraints, I will just show the pysanka writing section with the sound off, and narrate over it.

After the film has run, and everyone has their supplies, I will go from table to table and demonstrate how to use the pysachky and wax I have supplied (Luba Perchyshyn uses the wooden handled metal cone pysachky in the video; I use delrin-type pysachky in my classes), how to hold the egg, basic safety precautions, etc.  If I have assistants, they can also show a table or two.

Once the students have begun writing their pysanky, some will need additional help or instruction.  It is good to have a person or two available to help individuals figure out how to plot their design, help them use the tools, etc.

Maria helps a young girl write her first pysanka

The dye table is also a place where it can help to have an assistant.  In classes of newbies, younger students, or in large classes, someone needs to be in charge of the dye table--to make sure the eggs get dyed in the proper sequence, to make sure they are dyed safely, without breakage, and to prevent spillage and dye contamination. (Dyes can be contaminated by using the wrong spoon, by dyeing in the wrong sequence, by leaky eggs, etc.)

With classes of older students, I will usually man the dye table at first; after a while, as they get the hang of things, they can usually manage by themselves.  It helps to set up the dyes in the order they will be used--in that case the simple admonition to go forward, never back, really does work.

With large classes/workshops, or young students, the dye table needs to be manned. The person manning it does not need to be a pysankarka, but simply someone who can maintain order, and knows 1) proper dye sequences, 2) how to put eggs safely into dye and 3) how to remove eggs and dry them off properly.

As always–”Many hands make light work!”

  Writing Pysanky        Pencil Lines

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