Brother John’s

March 25, 2008

Pysanky Art (Ancient)

Filed under: Projects,Pysanky Art — Brother John @ 8:00 am
Tags: , , , , , ,
Cobalt Blue Pysanky Egg Art

I’ve been giving some thought to attempting to do a Pysanky Egg art project. I was recently watching public television when they did a small documentary on this ancient form of art. I was immediately intrigued. Of course I would never be able to approach the quality of those who have done this all their lives, but I would like to give it a try.

The process starts with a clean, white, chicken egg (yolk and all – a real egg). You lightly draw a simple pattern with pencil on the egg shell that you want to remain white. (See the white pattern in the image on the left?). Next you cover your simple pattern with a coating of bees wax. (This will prevent that section of the egg from absorbing dye when it is later dipped). The tool you use to “write” on the egg with wax is called a Kistka (see below) which is basically a small metal funnel attached to a dowel that drips molten wax.

Kistka Tool

Once protected with wax, the egg is dipped into a dye bath. Pysanky eggs that will go on display use a dye that is more brilliant and glossy then could be achieved with regular food coloring.

The egg above only uses one color (plus the natural white of the chicken egg). But many beautiful Pysanky eggs use multiple colorings. At each stage, each new color is again protected with wax and the egg is dyed again.

The next stage involves holding the wax covered egg next to a flame. As the wax melts, it is gently wiped off exposing the color it was protecting.

The final stage involves two tiny pin holes on each end of the egg. The yolk can be blown out leaving only the decorated shell.

If I do attempt this, I will keep you posted with additional information, links, and of course pictures of my attempt.

Also check out Hilo Verde’s pysanky art.



  1. Hi! Thanks for the link to my blog. I really like your inquisitive nature. I am the same way. I read about your crystals and thought “how fun!” I am starting some candy rock crystals myself….

    Comment by hiloverde — March 29, 2008 @ 11:16 pm | Reply

  2. HiloVerde, Thanks for stopping by! Really appreciate that. Yes, I am an extremely inquisitive being no doubt of that. I’m also an environmental protector.

    Brother John
    Lansdowne, Pennsylvania USA

    Comment by Brother John — March 30, 2008 @ 12:18 am | Reply

  3. Tis the day to say ‘Thanks for dropping by’ to Brother John, I see.
    I’m pleased you came by my little bloggie as well, sir, and left a comment. Thanks! It prompted me to add a bit more info to my profile, sort of explaining the ‘malcontent’ business.

    And confidentially, I halfway expected to see a comment right here, alluding to Easter and children. does that make me naive or just redneck?

    Comment by localmalcontent — April 17, 2008 @ 4:09 pm | Reply

  4. Local Malcontent, Come to think of it… 🙂 Perhaps I should soon do Pysanky art so I might get topic related comments? I love symbolism by the way… Know of good Choctaw symbols I might try?

    Brother John
    Lansdowne, Pennsylvania USA

    Comment by Brother John — April 17, 2008 @ 6:12 pm | Reply

  5. plenty. Peace pipes, as seen in the OK. flag; dream catchers; feathers. Perhaps an idea can come to you from this: I’m second from the right.

    Comment by localmalcontent — April 17, 2008 @ 11:06 pm | Reply

  6. Local Malcontent, thank you for sharing your pictures with me! Great ideas! I’m going to order that pysanky kit this weekend. In the mean time, practice, practice, practice. I used to be a pretty good artist once upon a time.

    ‘Preciate the suggestions!

    Brother John
    Lansdowne, Pennsylvania USA

    Comment by Brother John — April 18, 2008 @ 1:10 am | Reply

  7. I lived at one time in a city that was predominantly of Ukrainian descent. The ladies there did Pysanky eggs for Easter. I also have a sister in law that is off Ukrainian descent and she taught me how to do the eggs years ago. We used to do them before Easter.
    I beautiful and intricate artform.

    Comment by brendamaa — May 10, 2008 @ 9:44 am | Reply

  8. Brendamaa, I’m amazed that I had never heard of it until recently. Did you ever post any pictures of your Pysanky art work? I hope to soon find some time to do my first one.

    Brother John
    Lansdowne, Pennsylvania USA

    Comment by Brother John — May 12, 2008 @ 11:41 pm | Reply

  9. No, I never posted any pictures of the eggs that we did. My sister in law (in my opinion) was very good; but then she had grown up doing it.
    She called the holder for the wax a “stylus”.
    I hadn’t thought about that for yrs. and haven’t done it either as we moved away about 19 yrs. ago and it wasn’t something that we had time to do on our return visits home.
    I hope that you do try it and enjoy it.

    Comment by Brenda — May 13, 2008 @ 11:55 am | Reply

  10. Hi

    I was wondering if you would be interested in clean,empty
    Grade A Ostrich egg shells ?
    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.



    Comment by gisler werner — June 10, 2008 @ 10:01 am | Reply

  11. Curiosity drove me to decoupage on ostricheggshells.
    Age 71 – retired living at 21 rabie street ABERDEEN 6270 South Africa.
    Curious to try the technique of Pysanky on a ostrich eggshell.
    ould you help me?

    Comment by carlos garcez — July 29, 2008 @ 7:22 am | Reply

  12. Carlos, Very nice picture of you on your website! And such a beautiful smile! Your artwork is beautiful (as is your home), and you are obviously a very talented artist, but nothing outshines your site quite like that smile! I think your philosophy on life is pretty evident and I commend you for it. Bravo!

    As you helping you with the art of Pysanky, I wouldn’t even call myself a novice… yet. I only recently purchased the jars I needed to mix and store the dye, and I just started to pencil in the artwork on my first egg. So it’s not likely I’ll be able to give you any advice.

    But there are plenty of great places on the internet to teach you the ropes. Learn Pysanky . com is a good start!

    Again, your Ostrich Eggs are beautiful!

    Brother John
    Lansdowne, Pennsylvania USA

    Comment by Brother John — July 29, 2008 @ 9:23 am | Reply

  13. The tool for writing a pysanka is referred to (in English) as a stylus.

    There are many Ukrainian names for it–“pysachok” seems to be the most commonly used one in Ukraine, with “pysal’tse” as an alternative. “Kistka” or “kystka” is a regional usage for a small area of western Ukraine, and is also the Polish word for this tool.

    Comment by luba — October 13, 2008 @ 6:53 pm | Reply

  14. Just wanted to pass some info along about a microsoft critical update that was in
    the news a couple days ago, you can google for info or I have provided a link below.
    I was sitting on my couch looking at my computer screen and noticed my mouse moving
    around and became irate, you guys be careful.

    Comment by stiblioro — December 22, 2008 @ 8:31 am | Reply

  15. Found this site again when googling. If you want to learn more about pysanky, click on my name to go to my site.

    The pysanka pictured above–the blue one–is one of mine from my site. It was done on a regular chicken egg, and the only color of dye used was royal blue. Most pysanky use several colors, typically yellows, reds, greens and oranges with black as a final color.

    Comment by luba — March 16, 2009 @ 8:30 pm | Reply

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