I confessed on my Instagram Stories earlier this week that I still had my white lights and greenery hanging up outside. As in Christmas lights and greenery. I think mid-March is past the line of Christmas decor looking wintry and acceptable! But, it’s been cold and snowy and, when it’s been warmer, I haven’t wanted to spend my time taking down Christmas decor. Anyway, it finally happened today! The funny thing is that I had it built up in my head as this big, annoying thing I had to do and it took less than 10 minutes.
So, with the Christmas season now officially over (or way beyond over), I decided to dust off an old Easter project I did years ago. I was introduced to Pysanky, or traditional Ukrainian eggs, by my dear friend Shari. She was the perfect friend for the stage of my life when I needed a mentor. Her family had bought a farm and, since I was living in my in-laws basement, I was eager to help them with fixing it up. Jeff and I spent most of our weekends at their farm and it was such a sweet time. Anyway, she was a homeschooling mom of four kids, so she was always looking for something creative to try. She found Pysanky egg dying, which was a perfect way to use up their abundant supply of farm-fresh eggs from their chickens and ducks. She knew it would be right up my alley, so she invited me over to join in on the craft.
Pysanky eggs are decorated with an intricate wax detail and then dipped in dye. Traditionally, the egg would be waxed and dipped in stages, so the result would be a detailed, multi-colored design. I made simple two-color eggs as well as more colorful ones. I enjoyed the process so much that I bought my own dyes and supplies and I have made them a few times on my own since.
Each time I cleaned out my craft supplies, the egg-dying supplies made it through the cut. I’m glad I held onto them, because I thought it would be fun to make some blue & white eggs and share how to make them with my blog readers.
- Candle & matches (or lighter)
- Eggs (White, farm-fresh are best, because some “grocery store” eggs can have a residue/coating on them that prevents the colors of the dye from getting as rich. I used grocery store eggs for this, though, and they worked fine. It is fun to play with green and brown eggs, too, but that can throw the color scheme off, if you want white in the design.) Buy lots of extras, because eggs will break!
- Egg blowing kit (You can find one HERE and HERE. This can be done just by blowing on the egg, but I’ve done it before and a egg blowing kit is a much better option!)
- White vinegar
- Medium-sized nail or needle
- Pysanky egg dying kit (THIS is the one I have.) It includes dyes, design ideas, three delrin kistky (the small holders/pens for the wax), and beeswax
- Glass jars for dyes
- Spoons (for handling eggs)
- Egg crate for drying
Gently puncture the top and bottom ends of the egg with a nail or needle.
Stick the long yolk-puncturing tool through the top hole and stir around raw egg. (You could use a paperclip as well.) It’s important to break up the yolk, so it can be blown out of the bottom hole. If you don’t break the yolk, the egg will break when you try to blow it out. Ask me how I know this.
Blow out the egg and rinse with water. Pat dry with a clean towel.
Make sure to collect all of the blown eggs in a safe place, because they are fragile!
As an aside, traditional Pysanky eggs are actually not blown out. They are dyed raw and left to dry out, which will happen after about a year. You can hear the dried yolk rattling around inside the egg. When I first dyed these eggs with my friend, that’s what we did. Our eggs did start to smell, though, and my cats had a field-day with them. Try cleaning rotten, dyed, stinky egg out of your carpet after your cat “killed it”. So, I now blow them out.
Make the dye in glass jars with lids (you can store the dye for a while to use again). Follow the instructions on the packets, but mine needed to be made with boiling water and it needed to cool before adding 1 T of white vinegar to get it ready to use. I prepared my dyes first and gave them a chance to cool while I worked on the eggs.
The designs are drawn on the eggs in wax, using these small wax holders/pens. The different colors are to indicate different sizes. The wax will come out in a thicker line in the larger one, finer line in the smallest. In my set, red is the biggest and white is the smallest.
Fill the open end with beeswax.
Melt the wax over a candle flame.
Draw your design with the wax onto the egg. You can pencil your design first, if you want, or just go for it. I kept my designs pretty simple and repetitive, so I didn’t draw the designs first.
Anywhere you put wax will be white and the rest will be dyed the color you use. If you’re using multiple colors, you want to dye from lightest color to darkest. For example, if you want your design to be white, yellow, dark green, and black, apply the wax where you want the egg to be white first. Dip it in the yellow dye and apply wax where you want the egg to be yellow. Dip the egg in the dark green dye and so on. Sometimes an egg will dye in just a minute or two and, for other colors, you’ll want to let it soak for 10-15 minutes. The colors can get fully opaque, if left in the dye long enough.
It does take a little practice to draw holding the tool at an odd angle and to control the flow of wax. In some ways, it’s like trying to write with a quill and ink! I just go with it, though. Sometimes I get a big blob of wax where I don’t want it, but I just carry on. They don’t have to be perfect and they can be as detailed or as simple as you want.
As another aside, I tried using the melted paraffin wax that was collecting in the candle, but it doesn’t seem to stick as well as the beeswax.
Dye the eggs. Since the eggs are hollow, they will float. You can use a spoon or smaller jar to hold them down in the dye. As I mentioned above, most of the dyes, especially the darker ones, can get fully opaque if the egg is left in long enough. I didn’t care if the blue was opaque on my eggs, so I dipped them in and turned them over a few times, before taking them out. I used a mixture of Royal Blue and Black dyes to make an indigo color.
Set the eggs in a carton to dry. You can also use a board with nails pounded into it as a “drying rack”, but that’s only if you’re making a lot and want to get fancy. My friend’s son made one when we were dying eggs and it was handy, but the carton works fine, too.
I didn’t “plug” the holes in my egg with wax, to prevent the dye from getting inside. I just let them drip out the excess dye as they were drying. Plugging the holes is an option, though, and it keeps things a little neater.
Once the eggs are dry, put them in a 170 degree oven to cook off the wax. I put mine in a glass baking dish on tin foil, to catch the wax.
Buff the egg with a paper towel to remove excess wax and it’s done! You can spray it with a glossy polyurethane, if you want or they can be left unfinished.
Put them in a bowl or string them on a piece of ribbon or twine to hang on an Easter tree or make a garland.
You can see that my designs aren’t perfect, but that’s okay. They really don’t have to be to look lovely. And, when you’re drawing with wax, you just do the best you can!
If you asked me if this was a kid-friendly project, I would’ve said, “no”, except for the fact that we did these eggs with my friend’s four kids and a couple of them were quite young at the time (maybe first or second grade.) You do have to use caution with the candles and the fact that you’re drawing with hot wax. The eggs, of course, are easy to break. And there are the dyes, which will dye your fingers for a few hours and they certainly will dye clothing, carpets, etc. if they are spilled. So, just be aware of all of that if you’re thinking about doing this with the kiddos.
I think this is a better girlfriend’s “crafternoon” kind of project. It really is fun doing it with others, though, so you can see how their eggs turn out and you can chat while you’re working, since some of the designs can get tedious.
The result is really beautiful, though, and these eggs can be stored and used for many Easters and Springs to come.
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