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Easter Egg Decorating

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Easter eggs are a traditional sign of spring. For some, the tiny colored eggs have religious significance. Others view them purely as decoration.

Some people use vegetable baths or paints to decorate real chicken eggs. Others, especially those of Ukrainian heritage, use a series of tinted dyes and wax etchings to create stunning works of art. So whether you prefer pale pastels or the dramatic colors of Ukrainian eggs, it's time to get cracking on this fun hobby!

Since prehistoric times, the egg has been a symbol of fertility and the new life of spring. Ukrainian Easter eggs are called pysanky (plural), and the art of egg decorating goes back thousands of years. In history, the painted eggs were believed to have special powers. They were buried in newly planted fields and hung from fruit trees to promote good crops.

If you want to take part in a celebration of Ukrainian culture, and see great examples of pysanky, then travel to Vegreville, Alberta. People of Ukrainian origin built this town. It has a festival every July to celebrate its heritage, the Vegreville Ukrainian Pysanka Festival. It's the largest and most recognized Ukrainian festival in western Canada.

The town's population is usually 5,300, but during the summer festival, that number often doubles with visitors. Rain or shine, people come to share in Ukrainian heritage, for the food, dance, art, culture, and music -- to see the world's largest Easter egg.

Tourists from around the world come to visit the 30-foot-tall pysanka. The world-famous pysanka represents prosperity, life and good fortune, and eternity. The Vegreville egg took two years to develop and was designed using the first computer modeling of an egg.

If travel to Vegreville isn't in the near future for you and you want to bring a little creativity and culture to your home, why not try to decorate some of your own eggs?

Getting Started

Dyes: The six basic colors include yellow, orange, light blue, light green, bright red and black. If you become more advanced, there are many more to choose from, including gold, purple and turquoise. Experts recommend that you buy dye that is specifically Ukrainian Easter egg dye, not just the regular dye that can be bought in craft stores. This special dye will create the look you want.

For the more intricate decorations that are seen in traditional pysanky, more materials are needed. You will find things such as a stylus (used to apply beeswax to the egg to block the dye) and beeswax in the contents of more experienced egg decorators' toolboxes, along with many other tools of the trade.

Beginners can purchase a kit from a craft store or the Internet for as little as $6 or $7. For the more advanced artist, kits can cost as much as $60. This is the most expensive investment in decorating eggs. Also, buying special eggs, from an ostrich for example, can also make the cost of the hobby go up.

Overall, this is a relatively inexpensive hobby to take up. One of the other investments is your time, depending on how much detail you want on your eggs. Time will increase as the detail does.

What started out as an Easter hobby has turned into a year-round pursuit for many people. Often, people start by collecting the eggs, and then discover that they also have a passion for painting them.

"Anyone who is of Ukrainian descent is aware how this art is done. Also, anyone who has taken lessons. There are not many who make them to sell, since it is a lengthy process to make them, and not really worth the time and effort to make a career out of making and selling," says Adriana Wrzesniewski. She is a pysanky artist.

"This art form is not really considered a hobby, but an art. It is a folk art that has evolved into a fine art, but still holds the traditions and methods of folk art. With a folk art, it is impossible to say what type of person actually does it, or who would or would not get involved."

What does the future hold for pysanky? Wrzesniewski doesn't see many changes occurring. "The only real changes very recently have been the addition of a varnish coating to protect the colors. Also, the emptying of the eggs for further protection of the shell itself. The method of creating the pysanka will never change."

Trudi LaFlair enjoys decorating eggs and runs a Web page dedicated to the topic. She says that to be successful, a few skills are required: "A steady hand, minor artistic ability -- to be able to sketch a design on an egg in proper proportion -- and patience."

LaFlair also has some advice for beginners. "Make sure to follow the dye directions, as some colors require vinegar and some do not. Wait until your egg is room temperature and dry before beginning the dye process," she says.

"Don't wear nice clothes or do it near carpet. Have lots of paper towels on hand. Don't blow the contents of the egg or wash the egg before varnishing the egg. The insides or water will ruin your design."

By reading books or using the Internet, you can find detailed descriptions of projects of all levels. If you have the chance to talk to someone who participates in egg decorating, why not ask for a lesson? Talking to experienced hobbyists always helps when you're taking up something new.

If you try pysanka, and find that it is everything it's cracked up to be, why not consider these jobs:

Craft store owner: Selling the tools and kits required to decorate Easter eggs will give you a chance to share your passion with others.

Pysanka instructor: General interest courses, or just teaching a few people in your basement will help others learn this art, and will help you to develop excellent communication skills.

Web page designer: The Internet is a great source for tools and techniques. Share your talent and advice with the world!


Pysanka Ukrainian Easter Eggs
See many examples of decorated eggs

How to Make Ukrainian Easter Eggs
Instructions for beginners and more advanced decorators

Pysanky: Ukrainian Easter Eggs
A history of the art and some interesting pictures

How to Decorate Easter Eggs
Step-by-step instructions

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