I've always looked at Ukrainian Easter eggs with enchantment and awe. Such moving symbolism. Such beautiful colours and patterns. How do they draw those straight lines on eggs? How do they do that tiny cross-hatch thing? >
Last week I finally got to attend the annual workshop which has been offered by our local library for the past seven years. Turns out, it really is simple. It does take time, for sure. Nothing about this process is fast, but it's so absorbing that you hardly notice the time passing.
Obviously, experience and practice count for a lot in turning out a really high-quality piece. My lines are still wobbly and I often have to compensate for blobs of wax in the wrong place. Honestly, though, anybody can make these. You only need the kistka, the little tool for applying the wax, and of course the special dyes.
As soon as I got home from the library, I went online and ordered supplies from www.babasbeeswax.com. They were great to deal with. Everything is reasonably priced. My package arrived within six days and everything was in perfect order.
I got the basic beginner's kit, which consists of five dyes, a medium-size kistka, a piece of beeswax, and instructions. I chose the plastic kistka, which costs more, because that's what we were using at the workshop, and some people who had attended in previous years said they're much easier to use than the old wooden ones. I also ordered a packet of black dye, which wasn't included in the basic kit. I knew I wanted black after seeing the eggs the instructor had made. All the other colours just glow against it.
I once read in a magazine article that many Ukrainians regard making pysanky as a prayerful activity. They meditate and pray as they work with the ancient symbols of life and faith handed down to them by their ancestors. It certainly isn't necessary to take that approach in order to make beautiful eggs and enjoy them. For myself, I thought that trying to be too pious might rob me of some of the fun, so I didn't consciously set out to do that. However, I found that sitting by a lit candle, calming the mind enough to draw the simple shapes on the surface of an egg, and thinking in the most general way about the ideas expressed by the cross, the fish, the rose, the little dots that represent Mary's Tears, has been spiritually uplifting in a totally unexpected way. I'm definitely planning to make this an annual event.