Elegantly Decorated Easter Eggs

Give the Easter Bunny some competition! Supplement your income with decorated Easter eggs.

| March/April 1979

For over 2,500 years, the art of egg decoration known as pysanky (pronounced "pee-sahn-kee") has been practiced in the Ukraine. Originally, this craft formed an integral part of that culture's religious tradition, since the egg was a pagan symbol for the rebirth of spring. When the Ukrainian people were converted to Christianity, they simply incorporated the new religion's various motifs into their traditional ones and continued to practice this delicate art.

Today the craft is dying out in its home country, but pysanky is still kept alive by small groups of Ukrainians in the United States and Canada. I have always loved the art, and—once I mastered the technique — I discovered that such eggs (which cost me 11¢ to decorate) could sell for anywhere from $2.50 to $15!

The Materials

It only takes about $5.00 worth of materials to get ready to make decorated Easter eggs. All you need are some intact eggs (raw or blown hollow), a few ounces of beeswax, a supply of fairly tall, thin candles, a set of prepared dyes, and a small stylus known as a kistka—the one tool that's essential for this craft.

The kistka is just a tiny funnel set into a hole in the end of a short stick. To make the funnel, simply twist a small piece of brass or copper foil into a hollow cone with a 1/4"-wide base and a minuscule hole at the small end. Remember that, although the funnel doesn't have to be structurally strong, it does have to hold heated wax. Coil it as tightly as possible.

Then, in order to protect the wooden handle while the wax is heated over a candle flame, either wind No. 22 to No. 24 wire just forward and aft of the funnel or cover this area with very thin sheet metal or foil.

As for the other supplies, a pound of beeswax should last through a few dozen eggs, and it is available from beekeepers, fabric shops which sell batik supplies, art and hobby shops, and some candle stores.

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