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Easter Continued

April 19, 2009

A friend at church has been making Pysanky eggs for years, and offered to share this skill with a group for Easter.  We got started, then schedules got in the way, and then a few of us got hooked–and we’re still going.  Although the plan was to make one egg during our lessons, last week our teacher sent us home with the extra kystka (the drawing tool used to apply the wax)–and although I had no plans to make more I seem to have changed my mind.

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These eggs have their first layer of wax applied, and are ready to be dipped in their first dye.  Some will start with yellow, and some with light blue.  The lines are black from the soot of the candle used to melt the wax.

I’ve taught children about Pysanky before, using white crayons and easter egg dyes.  But it’s a thrill to get see how the real thing is made, and to have access to the tools.  (As a side note, the tools and dyes seem to be a fairly simple and inexpensive lot–but I do not need to aquire or store all the bits necessary for any more hobbies.)

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The kystka is a tiny funnel on the end of a wooden handle, and it is held in a candle flame and then dipped into a cube of beeswax.  For larger areas the larger end of the funnel can be used to scoop beeswax, and then it is melted over the flame.

Our teacher is full of information about the art, he first learned it when he was studying in a monestary.  His interest in this work has indirectly even led him to raise his own chickens, as grocery eggs are washed in such a way that the dyes don’t stick well.  The symbolism, repetition and attention to the various steps makes this a fitting art for meditation and spiritual practice, although I’ll readily admit that at this point I’m more interested in just learning the basics of the craft.  There’s a wonder to learning how things are made, and while I have no plans of continuing to refine this art, it is interesting to see how my beginning scratches are examples of the same steps, symbols and colors used in eggs decorated by folks with years of experience and training.

Then again, I thought I was going to stop with one, and already I have four in the works.

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