The Ukrainian Gift Shop


No one has done more to popularize the art of the Ukrainian pysanka in North America beyond the Ukrainian community than the family of Marie Procai (née Sokol). Originally from Drohobych in the Boiko part of Lviv oblast, Marie (above left) came to Minnesota by accident in the early 1910s (she had been on her way to Canada), and decided to stay. There she married and raised a family (top right), but never lost touch with her Ukrainian roots. 

Marie missed making pysanky, and so created her own tools and dyes to be able to do so in a foreign land. As she said about her first Easter in America

“I remember my first Easter in America (1912) and how homesick I felt for the traditions of the holidays which I once knew. I recalled my mother and grandmother decorating the colorful eggs and taking them to church to be blessed and decided that I could not let the Easter season pass without at least trying to made a pysanka (Ukrainian Easter Egg). So, I made a writing tool (kistka) from the metal tip of a shoelace. I bought crepe paper at the drug store and made dyes by soaking the paper in boiled water. My first attempts were crude, but, I did it, and made my first Pysanky in America!'”

Later, she and her daughter, Luba Perchyshyn (bottom right) opened a small store selling Ukrainian gifts. Luba put together her first egg decorating kit (tools, dyes and wax in a paper bag).

The shop grew, and the kits became more sophisticated. Then came fame – the April 1972 issue of National Geographic did an eight page pictorial entitled "Easter Greetings from the Ukrainians," and the article featured the Ukrainian Gift Shop. Her entire family soon became involved in the pysanka business, several generations in all.  In 1975 they published their first book, “Eggs Beautiful,” a wonderful introduction, in English, to the world of the pysanka.

Authors of “Eggs Beautiful” and “Ukrainian Easter Eggs”

It was with that book that I first became acquainted with the Ukrainian Gift Shop.  I began ordering all my supplies from them – I could purchase year round, the service was prompt, and the quality was always the best. At first it was through their catalog, and later through their website. Today their supplies, particularly their dyes, are used throughout the world.  Most professional pysankary I have met in Ukraine consider UGS dyes the gold standard, and use them whenever possible.

They came out with several more books after that, and I bought them all, studied them, and made many of the eggs featured in their pages. It is through these books that many of those outside the Ukrainian community in North America became acquainted with the handcraft.

The books have only gotten better, as computer graphics have replaced simple drawings, and multicolored diagrams have replaced simple black and white.  But I still value my copy of Eggs Beautiful most, despite its many dye-stained pages, because it is where I began to really  learn my craft.

The third generation of Marie’s family is now running things.  And still sell everything a pysankarka could want in the way of supplies. You can visit their website here.

Books about pysanky from the Ukrainian Gift Shop:

(Click on any of the titles below to go to the book’s page)

  1. 1.Kmit, Ann et al.  Ukrainian Easter Eggs and How We Make Them  Minneapolis: Ukrainian Gift Shop, 1979

  2. 2.Luciow, Johanna et al.  Eggs Beautiful: How to Make Ukrainian Easter Eggs Minneapolis: Ukrainian Gift Shop, 1975

  3. 3.Perchyshyn, Natalie.  A Kid’s Guide to Decorating Ukrainian Easter Eggs   Minneapolis: Ukrainian Gift Shop, 2000

  4. 4.Perchyshyn, Natalie.  Decorating Ostrich Eggs the Ukrainian Way   Minneapolis: Ukrainian Gift Shop, 1998

  5. 5.Perchyshyn, Natalie et al.  Ukrainian Design Book 1  Minneapolis: Ukrainian Gift Shop, 1984

  6. 6.Perchyshyn, Natalie.  Ukrainian Easter Egg Coloring Book  Minneapolis: Ukrainian Gift Shop, 2000

  7. 7.Perchyshyn, Natalie et al.  Ukrainian Easter Egg Design Book 2  Minneapolis: Ukrainian Gift Shop, 1986

  8. 8.Perchyshyn, Natalie.  Ukrainian Easter Egg Design Book 3  Minneapolis: Ukrainian Gift Shop, 1995

  9. 9.Perchyshyn, Natalie.  Ukrainian Easter Egg Design Book 3 (Second edition)  Minneapolis: Ukrainian Gift Shop, 1998

  10. 10.Perchyshyn, Natalie.  U Ukrainian Easter Egg Design Book 4  Minneapolis: Ukrainian Gift Shop, 2002

  11. 11.Perchyshyn, Natalie and Deanna.  Ukrainian Easter Egg Design Book Five  Minneapolis: Ukrainian Gift Shop, 2007

  12. 12.Perchyshyn, Natalie.  Ukrainian Easter Egg Design Book 6  Minneapolis: Ukrainian Gift Shop, 2016

A collection of recent UGS catalogue covers

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