Teaching Pysankarstvo:

Technical Information


And then there are the technical aspects of pysankarstvo: how to do it.  I prefer a two-step multi-media approach here–a formal presentation (audiovisual) followed by a live demonstration (next page). 

My multimedia presentation of choice is Slawko Nowytsky’s film “Pysanka: The Ukrainian Easter Egg.”  The advantages of showing this film are that it is short (only 14 minutes long), and it shows the creation of a pysanka from start to finish. The concept of batik (wax resist) can be a difficult one for many people to
grasp in the abstract, but once they have seen it done, they usually understand. There are also  dozens of pysanky depicted, giving students some idea of the possibilities inherent in pysanka writing. 

I have shown this movie to audiences of all ages and most find it fascinating, at least on the first few viewings. It can be a bit hokey in a few parts, what with the with dramatic music, flying eggs and mystic 1970s imagery, but it is a valuable resource none the less.  An additional plus is that I have a pattern sheet available for the pysanka that Luba Perchyshyn writes in this movie.

I have an old VHS version which I used when teaching at our Ukrainian school; the VHS player was still hooked up the the parish TV until just a few years ago.  The children in the photo above are watching the film during classes in 2011 in St. Mary’s church hall. 

I’ve also acquired a DVD version (zone free, I think) which I have used when teaching abroad. I can play it on my laptop, which I can hook up to a digital projector or to a secondary flat screen. For non-English-speaking audiences I show it with the sound off, and I narrate as the movie plays.  I usually skip ahead to he actual writing of pysanky, beginning with the demonstration of wax resist (in the making of a krapanka). 

(NOTE: using just a short segment of the video leaves more time for doing a presentation about traditions and symbolism.  when teaching adults, I will include it at the very end of the Powerpoint.)

Sadly, our old VHS player is no more, and I’ve had to find other ways to share the video. I downloaded the DVD file to my laptop and converted it to a mp4 file, which I can play though the churches digital projector via WiFi and Air Parrot.  I miss the old days........

Another choice is my powerpoint presentation “How to Write Pysanky.” It also shows the step-by-step creation of a pysanka, but it lacks the live action that makes the video so engrossing.  I find that while some students can grasp the concept of wax-resist from explanation and still photos alone, many require seeing the process themselves (live or in a video) before they can comprehend it properly.

The powerpoint describes the batik (wax resist) process, lists the supplies needed, shows a pysanka being written step-by-step, and explains the use of a stylus and wax removal.

I created this powerpoint presentation in 2010, in Ukrainian, to teach pysankarstvo at summer camp (in Ukraine).  It worked quite well, and I have tweaked it a bit since then.  I have also translated it into English.  You can download the two versions here or on my Downloads pages:

How to Write Pysanky.ppt

How to write pysanky (Ukrainian).ppt

Keep in mind that the powerpoint presentation is meant to be a teaching aid; only brief text is included.  The teacher should use these slides as prompts to discussion, and utilize the photos to demonstrate important points and concepts. Slides can be modified, added or deleted, as needed. A sample slide is shown below:


After the audiovisual presentation is complete, I do a short live demonstration.  See the next page for more information.

  Didactic        Demonstration

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How to Write Pysanky