I hate it when orthodox and non-orthodox Easters coincide; it generally means much less time to work on my pysanky, resulting in fewer eggs being written, a smaller variety of designs on them.  This year I had the additional limiting factor of technical difficulties.

When I returned from a very hot (but enjoyable) trip to Australia at the end for February, it was still quite cold in Michigan.  Needless to say, it was quite chilly in my basement studio.  I began writing pysanky immediately, but had issues with the wax flaking off of the eggs during dyeing.  And it was not just the occasional dot or teardrop, but huge sections of wax, lines included. 

I had no idea what was wrong.  I tried different waxes, bought different eggs, and even brewed up new batches of dyes.  No luck.  The wax continued to lift off of the eggs.

I was in a quandary, as I seemed to be doing everything as I always had.  The only  change I had made since the previous year was exchanging my old architect’s lamp for a shiny new Ott lamp.  I had gotten the latter for Christmas, and was trying it out on the recommendation of fellow pysankary, who swore by the quality of the natural light. My architect’s lamp used incandescent bulbs, which provide a yellow light; the Ott lamp has special bulbs which provide a more natural spectrum of light, with wavelengths like those found in sunlight. The Ott light also threw off less heat, making it a more efficient form of light.

I switched the lights back and the problem went away....mostly.  The few degrees of heat that the incandescent bulb provided to my work space were the difference between normal wax adherence and disastrous peeling.  The wax was hardening too quickly, and not adhering well the the eggshell.

I now use my fancy Ott lamp to light up books in my book holder, and Edison’s bulbs to light my work.  And I have bought a lifetime supply of incandescent bulbs and squirreled them away, just in case....

The pysanky I did create were taken from several sources, but most of them are traditional designs (or based on traditional designs), and were taken, for the most part, from Vira Manko’s Ukrainian Folk Pysanka, (VM) and Zenon Elyjiw’s 60 Score of Ukrainian Easter Eggs (ZE). The patterns appear to be taken from just a few pages; there are so many pysanky in each of these books, that it is hard to absorb them all and appreciate them when just looking through the book.  I found that, when I was working on a pysanka from one of the pages, I had time to really see the others, and ended up liking and making many of the as well. (I will add source information for the pysanky below once I have found it again.)

I usually make two designs, one for the Petrusha nephews, and another for the nieces.  This year I didn’t have the time to do both; I let the boys choose from the general pool of pysanky, while I did create a special egg for the girls.  I took my inspiration from these two pysanky in Elyjiw’s book:

These are two pysanky done in the Sokal style, free-form designs incorporating garlands of fantastic flowers. I chose the pysanka depicted on the right (three views), and made many variations of this design. There is no particular symmetry/division in pysanky of this sort, only a sinuous line that wraps around the egg.  Each of my “copies” is unique, with slightly different round flower elements and different placement of the various elements of the design.  You can see a group photo of these pysanky above; individual photos are on the second page below. Nine such pysanky are shown, each in four views.


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