Appliqué Eggs

The word “nakleyanka” comes from Ukrainian word kleyіty/ клеїти, “to glue, to paste.”  Nakleyanky are simply eggs which have been decorated by glueing things to them.  They were traditionally made with ordinary eggs, but, in modern times, are more often created using wooden eggs or emptied chicken and goose eggshells.

Various items can be glued to an egg shell.  In Poland, where these sorts of eggs are quite common, there are several styes of appliqué used on eggs.  Naklejanki or nalepianki are decorated with petals of elderberry, scraps of colorful paper (including wycinanki) or with patches of cloth (Łowicz and the surrounding area). 

Examples of Polish naklejani decorated with wycinanki

Oklejanki or wyklejanki are eggs which have been decorated with bulrush pith or yarn, and are found in the Podlasie region.

A bulrush oklejanka from the Polish Art Center (Hamtramck, MI)

In Ukraine there is much less of a tradition, and no such formal classification.  Kulzhynsky depicted 2 nakleyanky in Plate № XXXIII:

№ 15 is from the city of Polava, and is a wooden egg to which pieces of colored paper have been glued. № 16 is from the town of Orzhytsia in Poltava oblast, and is what is also called a solomianka: a (wooden) egg to which have been glued pieces of red and green dyed straw.

Eggs decorated with straw are still made in Ukraine, although usually with undyed straw.  Straw art itself is a fairly widespread handcraft in Ukraine; small pieces of straw can be glued to all sorts of objects (plates, wooden boxes) to create decorative patterns, and straw itself can be woven (flowers, baskets, shoes) or strung (stars and other hangings) into many shapes. Straw can be glued onto real eggs or wooden eggs.  Below are two straw appliqué eggs, one made professionally (left), and the other by goddaughter Darynka in grammar school (right):


Straw nakleyanky, made on wooden eggs

This is a more traditional example, albeit from the Czech republic:

Another type of traditional nakleyanka utilizes grain, ground up into fine particles (like uncooked cream of wheat).  It is glued to either a white or colored egg, and can be natural or dyed.  The two eggs pictured here were bought in western Ukraine several years ago, and are made with real eggs; I haven’t cropped them down too far, so that you can appreciate the texture of the surface.


Nakleyanky made with grain

Below are two views of a single nakleyanka made by a friend of mine from Rivne.  Olenka used not just grain, but also some beads, with which she spelled out «Христос Воскрес» (“Christ is Risen,” the traditional Ukrainian Easter greeting).


Nakleyanky made with grain and beads

Another traditional form or nakleyanka is a different sort of  “mosaic” type, one made by glueing dyed eggshell fragments onto an egg.  It is a simple but reasonably attractive variation, and was also made by Olenka.

I have seen photos of eggs covered with a mosaic of different grains, but don’t actually own any. These appear to be a modern variant, and the eggs below are an examples of this style of nakleyanka:

Nakleyanky made with various types of grain

More modern (and commercial) nakleyanky tend to be made of wood, like the straw ones above, and to sport less fragile adornments: sequins, braid, beads.  These are a few of the ones I bought in L’viv, at a small art gallery:


The nakleyanky below are from a gift shop in Lutsk (Volyn oblast). They were made by winding and gluing yarn around a ?wooden egg in colorful patterns.

(The egg on top appear to be a maliovanka, a painted egg.)

The most interesting nakleyanka I have purchased to date is the one below.  It is covered in its entirety with metallic cords and beads, and is quite large, bigger than a large goose egg..  I purchased it in the markets on Andriyivs’kyi Uzyizd, in Kyiv, and haven’t seen another one anything like it since.

Today there are many such variations on the nakleyanka, with new forms emerging all the time.  I have heard of nakleyanky made from all sorts of things: feathers (below), colored papers, flowers. 


Веснянка (Spring Song), Воскресіння (Resurrection) by Vira Spiryakina

  Maliovanky        Lystovky

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