Ukrainians have long used commercial wool dyes for coloring their pysanky. Until quite recently, these dyes were only available in large packets and gave variable results when used with eggs (as opposed to wool).  Most pysankary in Ukraine that I talked to told me they much preferred working with American (UGS) dyes, at least for certain colors (yellow, red in particular). They are packaged by the «Атей-плюс» (“Atey-plyus”) company of Lviv, and sold throughout Ukraine.

In 2010 I noted that someone had begun marketing individual small packets of «Барвник для писанок» (dye for pysanky); it turned out that these were produced by the very same Atey-plyus company, only in a smaller “single-serving” format. There is a variety of colors (10) available; I haven’t had a chance to test them all out, but Oksana Bilous has, and posted this photo on her Facebook page showing seven of them:

The available colors, based on the little check-off boxes on the packet, are:

  1. BulletYellow

  2. BulletOrange

  3. BulletRed

  4. BulletDark Red

  5. BulletPurple

  6. BulletLight Blue

  7. BulletDark Blue

  8. BulletGreen

  9. BulletBrown

  10. BulletBlack

This is the back of the packet, with instructions, contact information and an expiration date (although it has been my experience that these dyes do not degrade significantly over time:

To mix the pysanka dyes, add the entire packet to one half liter (app. pint) jar and fill it about half way with boiling water. The instructions note that you should put a spoon into the jar prior to pouring in the boiling water so as to avoid cracking of the jar from the heat. Once the dye has cooled, add one tablespoon of vinegar, and use the dyes at room temperature (20-25°C).

Note: According to the instructions on the pysanka dye packets, DO NOT add vinegar to the orange and yellow dyes. 

The dyes may not adhere well if they are too cold and, after the dyes have been used a while, it might be worthwhile to add another spoon of vinegar to give the color a boost. Besides the basic colors of the dyes, it is possible to get mixed colors by layering  one color over another.

The packet contains 5 grams of dye, and this quantity should be sufficient to dye 100 eggs.  Best if used by 2025.  Please recycle, and dispose of the packaging responsibly. 

In my experience to date, which has been with the wool dyes and quite limited, the black dye is fantastic, the orange and yellow very poor*, the red very pink-toned, and the green turned into a slurry.  I am mixing up new batches (armed with the new instructions about vinegar), and am testing them out again this year (2011).


*  The large dye packets all stated the need to add vinegar, so I did.  I must now try making these two dyes without added vinegar.

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Dyes for Pysanky

Барвники для Писанок