The tools used for making pysanky are of many sorts, and go by many names.  When I first learned to make pysanky, at the age of seven, at St. Mary’s Ukrainian school, I learned to call it a «писальце» (pysal’tse).  The English language instruction books I had referred to it as a stylus.  And those names stuck for me.

The name “pysal’tse”, like the word “pysanka,” has as its root “pys-,” which refers to writing.  Pysanky are written, not drawn or painted.  And the pysal’tse is the tool used to do the writing.

But there are other names.  Many people refer to it as a “kistka1,” in part because that is the name that the Ukrainian Gift Shop Books use.  The UGS books have helped to popularize the art outside of the Ukrainian community, and that name has caught on, particularly in North America2. The founder of UGS, Marie Procai, came from Drohobych, in the Boiko part of Ukraine, so perhpas the term originates there.

Other English-language books have referred to it as a “tjanting,” from the tool of that name used to make batik fabrics, or a pysak3.  Modern Ukrainian books on the subject uniformly refer to it as a «писачок» (pysachok). Oksana Bilous, in her book “The School of Pysankarstvo,” gives a list of variant names for the pysachok:


писак  (pih-SOCK)

кістка  (KEEST-kah)

кулька  (KOOL’-kah)

дідик  (DYEE-dick)

мигулка  (mih-HOOL-kah)


On this site, and whenever I am discussing pysankarstvo in English, I use the term “stylus.”  It is easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and a habit of many years’ duration.

In this section I will discuss the various types of styluses; detailed descriptions of their usage can be found in the Wax Lines section.  The pages here include:

Anatomy of a Stylus:  the parts of a stylus and their names and functions

        The Parts of a Stylus and their names

        The Reservoir and Tip (Non-electric)

        The Reservoir and Tip (Electric)

        The Connecting Wire

        The Handle

Traditional Styluses: traditional (non-electric) styluses

        Wooden: traditional styluses with a wooden handle

        Plastic: traditional styluses with plastic handles

Other Styluses: other non-electric tools for writing pysanky

        Drop-Pull Styluses: styluses used for drop-pull

        Calligraphic Pens: adaptive use of existing tools

Electric Styluses: modern electric styluses

        Wax Arts: the first commercial electric styluses

        Larry’s: a cork-handled variation               

        EggCessories: a Canadian variation

        Luba’s (UGS): a new hybrid


  1. 1.“Kistka,” pronounced “keest-ka,” is also the Ukrainian word for a bone.  In Ukrainian books I have also seen the variant “kystka,” pronounced “kisst-ka,” with a short “i.”

  2. 2.Most websites and English-language books use this name.  I don’t, probably out of sheer stubbornness and force of habit.  If writing in English, I use “stylus.”  If writing in Ukrainian, I now tend to use “pysachok,” as it is easier to transliterate than “pysal’tse.”

  3. 3.Cecelia Ference, in “Making Ukrainian Pysanky,” mentions this variant. 

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