I had a wonderful opportunity to try my hand at decorating eggs using traditional Ukrainian methods last week and have been inspired ever since. It wasn’t just the intricate and beautiful designs that drew me in, but the incredible patience and focus required to make them. I spent 3.5 hours in the company of several friends decorating eggs and produced just two. Back at home, I decided to capture the experience and replicate the intricate egg patterns in my journal. The detailed eggs seemed to beg for a more elaborate border and lettering than I would typically do—but, I’m quite pleased with the end result.
About Pysanka– This ancient art form dates back thousands of years and is steeped in legend and symbolism. Ukrainian eggs are made by writing with beeswax on the egg using a tool called a kistka. The patterns are made by adding successive layers of wax and dye. In the final stage, the egg is held close to a candle and the wax is slowly melted and rubbed off to reveal the beautiful pattern.
About replicating the eggs in watercolor– I started by lightly drawing the egg shape and then building up a couple of layers of watercolor to create a range of light and dark areas. This leaves the final egg with a bit of shine and starts to give the egg a dimensional appearance. I used Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus watercolors for most of these eggs because I wanted an intense background color. Once the egg was fully dry, I added the designs using a fine white gel pen. I tested a number of white inks, pencils, and crayons to see if I could replicate the resist method used on the actual eggs, but none gave satisfactory results. Additional details were added to the orange eggs using paint. The trick is to add the design as if on a dimensional object, so the lines must follow the imaginary curves of the egg.