This weekend the girls and I went to a Ukrainian Pysanky (Easter egg) Workshop at the very cool Ukrainian National Hall (the ceiling and the crown molding are amazing).
Jasmine had this great idea; she found the workshop on Facebook via our friend Michelle. The workshop, hosted by the League of Ukrainian Canadians provided instruction on creating beautiful traditional Pysanky.
The four of us weren’t exactly sure what to expect. We had never participated in a workshop of this caliber and only Jackie possesses the Ukrainian gene.
Identifying with my Polish side, I could relate Ukrainian Pysanky to the Polish version: Pisanka/Pisanki. Although design techniques are quite different, the meanings are the same. In Polish “Pisanka” is derived from the word “pisac” meaning “to write”. The Ukrainian word “Pysanka” comes from the verb “pysaty”, also meaning, “to write”.
To begin, our instructor, Cathy Paroschy-Harris explained the tools, methods and process to create our own Pysanky. She also made note of the bucket of water (the Ukrainian Fire extinguisher), ready at the helm in case of a petite unplanned inferno.
Each participant was provided with a blown-out egg, beeswax, a candle and a stylist tool called a kistka.
Basic patterns were provided, assisting beginners such as us with a stress-free method of creating and dyeing. Who am I kidding? If anyone knows us girls we’re not very “stress-free” when it comes to our crafts. We can easily morph into spazzes of the universe. Poor Art Attack guy would probably freak out watching us. HOWEVER, Jas was pretty positive, reminding us that whenever we do craft together, everything we make does in fact, turn out.
To begin, we started heating the kistka (both the head and the funnel end) with the flame of the candle. Beeswax was added to the funnel end and reheated until the wax was melted. Once the wax was heated we could apply it to the egg using the kistka.
Upon completing the first round of wax designs, we carefully carried our eggs to a team of volunteers who bathed them in vinegar and dyed and dried them for us.
In all the years Jacks, Jas, Melis and I have known each other, I believe this was the first time we have sat silently at a table… in pure concentration of the task at hand. And yes, adjectives were dropped several times.
We continued the wax design process, repetitively dyeing between patterns. In essence, our eggs were dyed beginning with the lightest colour (yellow) and ending with the darkest colour (black).
Once the final colour dye was applied to our eggs, we carried them to another team of volunteers who baked them (to remove the wax), cooled them and varnished them. To protect them from fingerprints and create an easy method of transportation, our eggs were placed in tinfoil baskets.
I have to say, for beginners we made out like bandits. We really had no idea nor could we envision what our finished egg could possibly look like after all the layers of wax were piled on. The end result was pretty amazing. Each one of our eggs turned out beautifully.
Thanks to the amazing volunteers for putting on such a great event! Special shout out to Toni, Marika, Andrea, Hanya, Kathleen and Cathy. We had a great time, and we’re so excited for next year’s workshop!
If you missed this year’s workshop and are hankering for some Ukrainian culture in your life, checkout Chaban Ukrainian Dance Group’s Upcoming concert, “Mosaic”. Saturday April 25th, click here for full details.