Craft Lathe


Maria demonstrates proper use of a craft lathe

A simple craft lathe can be a pysankarka’s best friend.  It can be quite difficult for even the most proficient of us to draw straight, even lines without a bit of assistance, especially the circumferential/equatorial ones.

A simple, inexpensive craft lathe

The lathe can be purchased through most pysanky supply sources and at many craft shops.  It is most useful for applying simple guide lines in pencil.  (I have never tried to use it for applying wax lines, and don’t know anyone who has.)

To make circumferential lines, place the egg into the holder (see below), adjusting the screw to apply firm, even tension. If the screw is not tight enough, the egg will wobble and so will your lines, if it is too tight, the egg won’t fit or might break. 

Adjust the position of the egg so that it looks straight; then spin it, to make sure it is.  If you have seated the egg in the holders properly, it shouldn’t appear to move when you spin it.

Place your right hand (if you are right handed) on the right spindle support, as Maria does in this photo:

Hold your pencil in your right hand, and press it to the surface of the egg.  Holding your right hand steady, use the left one to spin the egg.

Voila!  You have a nice, even circumferential line that meets itself in the end! You can use this method to draw a single middle line, or the numerous lines you will need for a barrel pysanka.  If you wish for these lines to be centered or evenly spaced, you should first measure along the length of the egg with a small tape measure, and mark your divisions.

To make my life easier, I have marked my lathe (see arrow below) so that I know the right settings for a large chicken egg (the kind I most frequently use).

The upper line marks the setting for circumferential lines. You can also use a lathe to draw longitudinal lines – those that go up-and-down around the egg – in the same fashion.  It’s a bit trickier, as you need to let your hand ride up and down with the egg, but gets easy with practice.  It helps to mark the top and bottom of the egg before you start.

This is how I use the lathe. 

There are many other approaches to using the lathe, many of which entail fixing a pencil to something immobile,  and then applying the tip of the pencil to the surface of the egg while spinning the egg. One method uses a pile of books to rest your pencil on, another consists of putting a pencil through an empty Pringles can and then standing that apparatus next to the lathe. I find that, if I twirl the egg quickly, I have no problem holding my hand still.

It should be noted that neither of these “fixed pencil” methods will allow you to make longitudinal lines.

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Using a Craft Lathe