Teaching Pysankarstvo:



When they have finished writing their pysanka and have removed the wax, my students are instructed to bring their pysanky to me to look over and help them “finish up.”

I first look the egg over carefully, and make sure that the beeswax has been completely removed.  If there are still large areas of wax, I will point it out, and send the student back to finish removing it, if they appear capable. If there is just a  little, or it is a very young student, I will remove any remaining wax with my candle.  A heat gun can also be used here on emptied eggs.

Once all of the visible beeswax has been removed, I will remove the residual wax and give the pysanka a bit of “shine.”

First, I clean the egg with a solvent.  I generally use odorless mineral spirits or Goo Gone (with a lovely citrus scent); I don’t usually allow the students to do this because such solvents are generally quite flammable and shouldn’t be inhaled. I saturate part of a folded tissue or soft paper towel (e.g. Viva), and gently rub it over the surface of the pysanka.  One needs to be careful here, and not rub too vigorously, as this could rub off dye as well.  This should remove any residual wax and soot.  If the egg has lots of visible pencil lines or excessive soot, it may take a while to get it completely clean.

If the solvent does not remove the visible pencil lines fully, you may need to use a white eraser to get them off.  You can do this yourself, or have the student do it and then bring the egg back when done.

If I will be taking the pysanka home to varnish (not my usual practice), I’ll place it in a secure egg carton, out of the reach of students and passers-by, for transportation to my house. 

If the pysanka will be going home directly with the participant, I will place a small dab of Vaseline (petroleum jelly) on the egg and roll it in my hand to coat it thinly and evenly.  I’ll then use a soft paper towel to buff the pysanka and remove any excess “goo.”  This provides a nice sheen to the egg (as on the pysanky below), and should protect it against water damage. The finished pysanka will be placed into a secure egg carton until it is time to go home.

Note the satin sheen on these pysanky

I keep all the finished pysanky in a secure/closed egg carton, or an egg flat in a safe location, until the end of class.  Depending on the length of the class and the  speed of their work, some students many write more than one pysanka. Storing finished pysanky away from the work tables decreases the risk of a finished egg rolling to the floor and breaking while a student is working on a different one.

With younger students, there is often a desire to show off their eggs to others after they are done, or to look to see what others have made.  Having students open the cartons and take eggs in and out risks breakage.  Finished eggs should be stored in a secure location, away. from prying eyes and fingers, to avoid this.

Unused eggs and finished pysanky being stored in an egg flat.


Buff and Polish

  Wax Removal        Packaging

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