The art and craft of pysanky

Latest

Fragile Canvas

A Solo Gallery Show by Teresa Mihalko Harbert

April 2 through May 7, 2017

at the Art & Soul Gallery of Oak Hills Church
1100 Blue Ravine Road, Folsom CA 95630

Probably the number one question I am asked about this art called pysanky is, “Are they real eggs?”  The answer?  Yes, they are very real eggs.  God created an engineering marvel with those shells, sturdy enough to withstand the mama bird’s weight as she keeps them warm before they hatch and yet designed so the baby bird can still peck its way through to life on the outside.

 

Over the years I have accidentally broken eggs at every stage in this creative wax-and-dye process.  From exploding an egg while emptying it, to smashing one as I reach for it on my work area, to bobbling another as I remove layers of wax, and even dropping one or two as I proudly tried to admire my finished work of art.

 

Frustration does not adequately describe my feelings each time this happens.  And after mourning the loss and cursing my clumsiness I eventually reach for another egg and begin all over again.

 

This solo exhibition show has been a long time in coming.  It is the joy of creation and the pain of loss all tangled up in thoughts and eggshells.  Let me take you on my art and faith journey from the initial idea to the actual show you will see in the Art & Soul gallery.

 

It all starts with my love for tiny details.  I actually crave the quiet hours alone required to create these eggs.  That’s my time to push away the busyness of the “regular” world and focus on one small thing at a time.  And once in a while as I work God gives me an idea to ponder.  This time it started with the eggshells themselves.

 

The show title, Fragile Canvas, came quickly and I knew that somehow I needed to demonstrate it, not just tell about it.  I decided to create an egg and then break it on purpose for a photo for the show’s title page.  Creating the egg was a joy, but I was surprised at how reluctant I felt when the time came to break it.  It was much more emotional than I expected.

 

I finally got out my camera and readied the photo shoot area.  Then I took a few minutes to marvel at the designs and color choices on my finished egg’s surface.  This goose egg had been such a pleasure to work on because it was unusually smooth.  Most goose eggs have small bumps and pits on their surface so the wax lines appear to waver as they move across the egg.  Dyes don’t always adhere as brightly either but this particular egg behaved perfectly every step of the way.  Looking at the finished egg I started to doubt myself, did I really need to break it?

 

I wrestled with my decision quite a while before bringing the egg down sharply onto my desk.  Hearing that distinctive “crack” actually sent a shiver up my spine and I felt an immense sense of loss.  I had changed that egg forever with one swift movement of my hand.

 

As I inspected the damage and gently picked up the pieces, I marveled at the beauty of the egg, even in its broken state.  This is where God again gently spoke, reminding me that our lives are also fleeting and must be handled with great care.  We are all made of fragile canvas and yet even in our broken state, we still have beauty.

 

Fragile canvases indeed.

Only Two More Spots!

Wow!  The new catalog of classes for the John C. Campbell Folk School just came out a couple of weeks ago and my “Pysanky For All” class August 20-26, 2017, is nearly full.  This is such thrilling news for me because it means I get to go back to that lovely spot in North Carolina and “play eggs” for a whole week with students of all skill levels.

 

I love teaching beginners.  My favorite part is watching their faces as they remove the wax from their very first egg and see the colorful results.  And I love seeing their excitement as they progress through the week, improving in skill and beginning to come up with design ideas on their own.

 

I also love teaching those already experienced with this wax and dye process.  Helping them stretch their artistic muscles as they work with new colors, or techniques, or styles is great fun for me.  I learn almost as much as they do as we work through the week together.

 

Here is a photo of the work my class did for the big “Show and Tell” celebration at the end of the week.  Didn’t they do a great job?  I feel like a proud parent!

img_20160617_163002

The Northern California Eggstravaganza 2017

Secrets of the Enchanted Forest

Show and Sale February 25-26, 2017

Seminars February 23-26. 2017

Crowne Plaza Northeast
5321 Date Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95841

The 2017 Show  is fast approaching.  I’ll be teaching two classes and selling eggs and egg jewelry in the showroom.  Take a look at the show website here.

 

And see here for more information on the beginning and Trypillian classes I’ll be teaching.

darkredradiatingstarsmall1301413 1600313web

Christmas Egg Class

December 3, 2016–9:30 to 11:30 AM at Carmichael Park Clubhouse
5750 Grant Avenue, Carmichael, California 95608

Have some fun learning how to use wax and dyes to turn a real chicken egg into a colorful Christmas ornament.  You can sign up online for this class through Carmichael Recreation and Park District.  Scroll to the bottom of that page for more info.

xmaseggs02

The Incredible Eggs 2017 Calendar

I love getting fun mail!  Today’s was especially fun because I received my 2017 Incredible Eggs calendar and I’m proud to report that a collection of my Trypillian style eggs appears on the November page.  This entire calendar is filled with an amazing display of colors and styles by lots of different egg artists from around the world.  Click here to get the purchasing details and to preview each page.  There is even a Canadian version for those of you north of our border.

calendar2017

The Fall Show 2016

rcartsThe City of Rancho Cordova is doing a great job of promoting the arts!  Visual arts, public art, and performing arts all are celebrated and supported well by the Cordova Community Council.

 

The Fall Show 2016 Opening Reception will be held Thursday, October 13, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM in the lobby of the Rancho Cordova City Hall, 2729 Prospect Drive, Rancho Cordova, California 95670.  Stop by to meet the artists and enjoy the great variety of art on display .

 

I have three eggs on display at this show and as an added bonus I’ll be playing Baroque music with the string trio Camerata Cordova at the reception beginning at 5:30 PM.

It’s a God Thing!

Let me show you just how much God loves me.  First I have to take you back a few years when Dave and I were at the REI Raincoatgarage sale shopping for raincoats.  Sorting through all the racks of styles and sizes we came up with a dark grey coat for him but the only coat in my size was an incredibly ugly green.  I’m not kidding, the color on the tag said “Bog/Moss.”  At 50% off I figured I could live with it, but I was definitely not a happy camper.  We bought the coats and when we got home Dave had the brilliant idea of checking the online outlet.  Miracle of miracles, for the same price they had the same coat in my size, but it was brown with rose accents on the sleeve.  We bought it, returned the ugly green thing to the store and I breathed a great sigh of relief.

 

bootsFast forward to 2016 which finds Dave and I preparing for a long walk in northern Spain, the Camino de Santiago.  This, of course, involves properly equipping ourselves for the journey which means REI is now our new favorite store.  First off we needed sturdy, lightweight boots.  One more a trip to the REI garage sale and Dave got great boots in his size at half price but this time there is nothing for me.  As we waited in the incredibly long check-out line I found a good pair of boots on the clearance rack in my size.  And they were brown with rose-colored laces.  It’s a sign, I just know it.

 

 

backpackNow to find our backpacks.  Dave did weeks of research to find the perfect balance of size, style, and weight.  Off to REI once more and we discover those backpacks come in male and female versions.  And the female version sitting right there on the shelf is a lovely shade of rose.  Wow, it matches my boots and my raincoat.  God loves me!

 

traveltowelSince we will be carrying everything in our backpacks we needed to buy small lightweight travel towels.  And so we can tell ours apart we bought two different colors.  Dave got blue and mine is…you guessed it rose pink.

 

Lastly I knew I needed some sort of close-toed sandal to wear as an alternative to the boots.  Scouring the shelves on all the outdoor stores in our local area we came up empty.  Then one afternoon we happened to be in Roseville and stopped into an outdoor store we rarely frequent.  Without much hope I asked at the counter about the sandals.  As the sales clerk quickly walked to the back of the store, she called over her shoulder, “What size?”  Now you have to understand here that while I am about 5 foot 4 inches tall, I wear a whopping size 10 shoe.  I am definitely under-tall for my feet!  The store was practically empty so when I yelled back, “Size 10,” it felt like it echoed endlessly off the shelves.  Talk about embarrassing!  By this time the clerk had reached the shoe section and she called back, “Wow, we have one pair here on the sales rack and they’re your size.”  I ran back to find her holding up a box of closed-toed Keens and guess what color they were?  A beautiful shade of rose.  I am not kidding.  These big boats match my backpack and my boots, and my raincoat perfectly.  Unbelievable.sandals

 

And that’s how God showed me just how much He loves me.