Making a Ukrainian Easter Egg

These treasured Easter eggs show dedication to the craft of pysanky.
Colorful Ukrainian Eggs with Intricate Designs

Colorful Ukrainian Eggs with Intricate Designs

As a child, Eve Butterly would sit at her grandmother's side and learn the art of pysanky -- painting eggs with wax and dye. She loved the art form but for her it was never more than a hobby. She went on to create a career as a film script supervisor all the while perfecting her pysanky on her off days. That was until a writer friend wrote and published an article about Eve and her meticulous art form.

Materials and Tools:

chicken eggs
egg blower
large paper clip
egg lathe
pencil, paper, cotton swabs
aniline dye
canning jars
wax mixed with pigment
vegetable peeler
kistka stylus tool
latex gloves
paper towels, dishwashing soap, soft toothbrush
candle, lighter, egg dipper
drying board with wires
Golden MSA Gloss with UV varnish
soft brush
rotary tool
ribbon, beads, scissors
purchased decorative egg stand
hypodermic syringe


1. Plan the design for the egg and make a sketch. Research desired designs in books or online.

2. Scrub the egg with vinegar and water and then dry. The egg must be clean of all dirt, and oils to take the dye. Using a strip of paper, measure the "longitude" of the egg (around lengthwise). By folding the paper in half, find the exact top and bottom, the north and south "poles" of the egg.

3. Drill a hole in the bottom of the egg using a small drill. Blow out the contents of the egg. Rinse the inside of the egg with water. Using an old hypodermic syringe, squirt some bleach into the shell to disinfect it. Rinse again with water to remove the bleach. Insert a twist of paper towel into hole to help wick out the water. Let dry.

4. Mix the dye powder in canning jars with boiling water and vinegar according to the manufacturer's directions. Let cool.

5. Use a vegetable peeler to make beeswax chips from the beeswax patty.

6. Put the egg into a special egg lathe and draw the equator. Measure around the circumference of the middle of the egg and divide it into fourths, making the necessary marks. Depending on the shape of the egg, the visual center may be different from the mathematical center. Adjust as needed. Draw four longitude lines onto the shell. Draw additional lines as needed depending on the design.

7. Heat the kistka tool. Add the wax chips to the tool. Mix in small amounts of pigment tinted wax to be able to see the wax lines more clearly. Draw the lines for the white elements in the design with wax on the egg.

8. The kistka tool deposits wax onto the egg. Wherever the wax is deposited, the colors of the dye will not penetrate through the wax.

9. Seal the blowhole with a bit of wax and use the kistka to seal it watertight.

10. Wearing rubber or latex gloves, dip the egg into the yellow dye and pat dry with a towel.

11. With the heated kistka tool, apply wax to the areas that will remain yellow.

12. Apply green dye with a cotton swab in the small areas to remain green.

13. With the kistka tool, apply wax over the spot areas to remain green.

14. Dip the egg in the orange dye and pat dry with a towel.

15. With the kistka tool, apply wax over the areas to remain orange.

16. Dip the egg in the red dye and pat dry with a towel. Wax over all the areas of the design that will be red.

17. Wash the egg in dishwashing soap and water and pat dry with a towel.

18. Dip the egg in vinegar for a minute. This will dissolve a thin layer of the shell and remove the soap residue. Use a soft toothbrush to scrub off the etched layer of shell and the last bit of color.

19. Dip the egg in black dye and pat dry with a towel.

20. Light a candle. Hold the egg next to the flame to melt the wax.

21. Wipe off the melted wax with a towel until the wax is removed.

22. Wipe the egg with mineral spirits. This removes every last bit of wax.

23. Insert a special egg dipper into the blowhole. Dip the egg into the can of varnish and let the excess run back into the can. Let it drip 10 drops. Transfer the egg to a wire and place it on a drying board. Let dry.

24. With a brush dipped in mineral spirits, brush away the drips that form at the bottom of the egg for at least 30 minutes. Let the varnish dry at least 24 hours.

25. Display the Ukrainian Easter egg on a decorative egg stand.

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