Choosing a Stylus


Before you begin to write your design, you need to choose the right-sized stylus for the job. Traditional (non-electric) styluses generally come in three sizes/widths: fine, medium and wide.  Electric styluses have a wider size range, with most brands running from extra-fine to extra-wide.

Why so many sizes?  Because they have different purposes:

  1. EXTRA-FINE:  This width is generally found only in electric styluses. It is used to add very fine details to a pysanka (and perhaps a signature and date). 

  2. FINE:  This width is used in making intricate (diasporan or hutzul-style) pysanky, or in adding fine details to other/traditional pysanky.

  3. MEDIUM:  This is the stylus of choice for writing most traditional pysanky, and is also the stylus of choice for beginners.  Lines look less scratchy and shaky when applied (by an uncertain hand) when using a medium stylus, as compared to a fine.

  4. WIDE:  This width is usually used for filling areas of color in a design.  Rarely it might be used to write lines in a very simple traditional pysanka, as in those from the Boyko region.

  5. EXTRA-WIDE:  This is the ideal stylus for filling in very large areas of color. It has no other real use.

Styluses, at least in the diaspora, are generally color-coded to designate the tip width.  Delrin styluses (pictured below) have the entire handle color coded. Others (wooden and plastic) will have the non-business end of the handle dyed or painted.

The standard color coding is

  1. WHITE (or undyed):  Fine point

  2. BLUE:  Medium Point

  3. RED:  Heavy point

The actual definition of fine and wide varies among brands/makers, and tip size can vary from stylus to stylus, especially among the “rolled-cone” style of traditional stylus.

It is worth your time to test a stylus (on a test/junk egg or a fingernail) before using it to make sure the wax flows freely, and to ascertain the actual width of the wax line.  Keep in mind that, in general, electric styluses have a finer line than traditional ones for all sizes. 


    Medium Stylus

    Wide Stylus

    Fine Stylus


    Comparing line widths (left to right):

    medium (2), wide, fine

(For more information about styluses, traditional and electric, check out the Stylus section.)

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