Monday, March 24, 2008


Aine, who comes from strong Irish (and German) roots, was introduced to threads of Eastern European culture through me. Through extended family, we were introduced to the Ukrainian art of pysanky eggs for Easter. Raw eggs are put through a process of scribing, waxing, and progressive dying, to produce intricate color and geometric patterns. The eggs made by grandmothers and great grandmothers still exist in our family today.

Although the art is dying (no pun intended) and it is getting harder to find the tools and knowledge, Aine was intrigued and wanted to carry on the tradition. Here is her third project (we won't talk about the second and the unfortunate brush with gravity), where she has fused Ukrainian technique with Celtic imagery:

This one was the first attempt. Laying the tiny wax lines takes practice. She was a little shaky at first (but still cool):

That's all for this year, but it was nice to add some fresh colors to the old tradition. As for the Easter egg hunt this year, we had some visitors to spice things up:

Seems like some Garter snakes have gone forth and multiplied.

For those who celebrated, we hope you had a nice holiday!


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J.C. Montgomery said...

I had seen eggs like that before, but never knew their name nor anything about the process.

I definitely will be doing some research as those pictures you posted are stunning!

p.s. Including the snake. I love snakes!

Kim said...

She did a wonderful job, Jason. Those are gorgeous.

SzélsőFa said...

These are great eggs! Congratulations to Aine!
I'd like to see more of the process...
We are decoratin our Easter eggs ina similar way, but the decoration is much more simple and no wax is used. I will write a post about it some time later on.
Happy Easter to you all!

Bernita said...

Her knotwork is WELL DONE!

Geraldine said...

Beautifully done Aine. I agree, this is a dying art and I'm sad that it is. Nice to see you are working on keeping up this wonderful Easter tradition.

Glad this was only a garter snake that came a callin'!!!

Jaye Wells said...

Those eggs are so cool! The snake, not so much.

Aine said...

Aerin, thanks! :D

JC, the process is time consuming, but very rewarding. I definitely recommend trying it if you enjoy such crafts! The eggs created by a skilled "baba" are truly stunning. I'm amazed at how they can create such fine and intricate designs. The kitsky (the tools used to apply wax) that I have in my beginner's kit are considered "medium" and "heavy."

Kaycie, thank you!! :)

Szelsofa, I look forward to your post! Using hot wax is challenging, but such fun when you melt it off at the end of the process to reveal all the colors.

Bernita, thank you!! I've always been drawn to celtic design because of the woven geometry. But this is the first time I tried it. Interestingly, the process is very much like real tatting-- you draw dots or diamonds to represent pins, and wind the lines around them.

Geraldine, thanks! I'm hoping one of our girls will be crafty enough to carry on the tradition, too.

The snakes (yes, there were 3 or 4) were so kind to come out and watch the egg hunt.

Aine said...

Jaye, you snuck in while I was posting. My family tend to be naturalists, so they were all fascinated by our scaly visitors. Had we been with some of my in-laws... well, let's just say a few eggs may have been broken in panic and chaos.

Bev said...

beautiful eggs -- we have known a couple of Ukranians that are still practicing this beautiful art, and I know it takes hours and hours -- but the results are stunning!

Good on you for preserving the tradition

Unknown said...

Wow, Aine, those are so cool. You have a real command of the line. Why don't you put up a how-to at so that us lesser mortals may be taught this dy(e)ing skill?

Geraldine said...

Jason: Do stop by when you can, I responded to your comment from this morning...more creative pursuits from the kitchen! LOL

WH said...

I had never heard of the art of pysanky. Very cool. Eat your heart out faberge -:)

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Aine, that is incredibly beautiful! Boy you Evanses are way too talented!

Aine said...

Bev, I bet you've seen some exquisite examples then.

EOH, I haven't heard of that site-- it sounds like a good resource! When I first saw your comment, I read it as "indestructibles" and thought that is certainly no place for these eggs (as I learned first hand!) Ha! Wikipedia has some interesting info regarding superstitions about pysanky. And has everything you'd ever want to know about the craft.

Geraldine, Jason is quite a cook, but not so much a baker. Fortunately, I complement him with my love of baking. Your potato scones look yummy!

Billy, it's one of those cultural crafts that is endangered-- I hope it survives our technology era.

Ello, thank you! The talents in our family are unevenly distributed. Once in a while I need to pull something out of the hat to get noticed... ;)

Linda said...

Those eggs are gorgeous!! The garter snake is a beauty too.

The Anti-Wife said...

The eggs are amazing. You can keep your snakes.

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Geraldine said...

Aine, Do give them a whirl (the scones) if you are looking for a slightly different take on this baked treat. And I agree, it's great you complement each other in the kitchen. Cooking together is such fun, isn't it!

Precie said...

Wow, those eggs are beautiful! And what a great and worthwhile effort to uphold that tradition. :)

Happy Easter! And Happy Spring!

Vesper said...

Absolutely beautiful eggs! Bravo, Aine! (and Jason for the beautiful pics!) I had no idea these eggs were raw. We're colouring eggs - obviously not with such an intricacy...
Cute snake! :-) I love all animals.
I hope you had a Happy Easter! :-)

JaneyV said...

Gosh those eggs are beautiful! So much intricate work. Kudos on the Celtic Knot!
Sad about egg No. 2! I have a corner of my kitchen where gravity is WAY stronger than everywhere else - it practically rips the stuff out of your hands! Many a mug, plate or glass has fallen victim!

Cool snakes!

Happy Easter Time (Sorry for being a bit late - we had visitors!)

Aine said...

Beadinggal, hi!! It's good to see you. And, thanks. The snakes sure livened up the day.

Anti-wife, no worries, they go back in their hole when a shadow passes over them.

Geraldine, I just may do that. Once the Easter candy is gone. ;)

Precie, thanks! And Happy Spring to you!

Vesper, some folks blow out the eggs first but then they float in the dye. So you need to find a way to hold them down without smashing them. Or, they can be blown out after they're decorated-- at the risk of breaking, of course. I decided not to take on that challenge. Apparently, the eggs dry out over time (we'll see if it becomes a stinky process....)

Janeyv, thanks! I understand about the kitchen's gravitational pull. Gravity and I have a long history. I even dropped my sister's birthday cake once (which she'll never let me forget!)

The Quoibler said...

I am speechless. Would you consider offering one up as the grand prize of your next writing competition?

And "pysanky". Now THAT's a good name for a cat. Especially a gray one with interesting markings...


Aine said...

Angelique, Ha! I suppose such a cat resides with the Quoibler?... I can hear you calling "pys, pys..." to get the cat's attention. Call it Psyssie for short? Hee, hee.

Grand prize pysanky egg? I'd gladly make one, but I'm not sure that it would survive a postal trip. :D