Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ukrainian Easter Eggs

  In one of my art education classes, I did a lesson on Ukrainian Easter eggs; also known as Pysanky.  While brainstorming on a new craft to try with my daughter, these beautifully decorated eggs popped into my mind!

It is believed that the art of decorating eggs in the Ukraine goes back to ancient times.  The Ukrainians worshipped a sun god, called Dazhboh, and believed birds were his chosen creation since birds were the only ones who could get near the sun.  The Ukrainian people thus believed the eggs were magical objects and were honored. 

Decorating the Pysanky was traditionally done the last week of Lent by the women of the family. Usually each family had its own symbols and customs for decorating the eggs - passed from mother to daughter. The color / pattern combinations used by each family were carefully guarded.  The work was done secretly at night while the children slept. 

The eggs were decorated with a wax resist. The patterns were written on the egg with the wax, then the egg was dyed yellow.  More wax was applied and the egg was dyed orange, red, purple and black.  After the last color was added, the was was removed revealing the various patterns.  On Easter Sunday the eggs would be taken to church to be blessed and then given to family and others you may respect.

To create a toddler friendly version of Ukrainian eggs, I decided to do scratch art.  We simply began by drawing an egg on heavy paper ( such as cardstock ).  Next we colored our eggs with a variety of brightly colored crayons. After the egg is colored, apply black paint over top the crayon and allow to dry completely.  Once the paint is dry you can scratch it off using any type of sharp instrument appropriate for the age group.  Craft stores sell scratch stick specifically for this type of art. You can create an unlimited number of unique eggs with this technique!  Have fun!