It’s that time of year again. The new egg calendar is out and I think it’s the best one yet. I have a few eggs pictured too which is just a fun bonus. If you want to order one for yourself, here’s the link.
Wow, I just spent a week teaching “Pysanky for All” at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina, and I declare to one and all…this is my happy place.
For those who are not familiar with the Folk School, think of summer camp…only year around…for adults…filled with folk art classes…on 300 beautiful acres of gently rolling hills and woodlands…with other like-minded life-long learners. That should give you the beginnings of an idea of this place.
Years ago my sister and I attended an artisan bread-baking class there. In spite of the misty cold January weather, we had a blast baking all week long. With our fellow students we started with basic breads and then experimented with sourdoughs, crusty ciabattas and even got to bake in the wood-fired hearth oven right there in the kitchen. The communal meal-times offered lots of opportunity to meet fellow students and instructors from around the country. I fell in love with this whole concept of non-competitive, cooperative learning based on the Danish “folkhojskole” or folk high school and I knew I wanted to come back someday and teach.
It took me a few years to gain enough experience teaching and then a few more years to work up the courage to apply, but I was delighted to teach for the first time in June 2016. And even more delighted when they asked me back for this year’s class and scheduled me for October 7-13, 2018.
This year’s class of eight students exceeded my expectations greatly. On Monday morning we worked our way through an introductory egg to learn the basics. Step-by-step through the next few days they gained skills and confidence so that by the end of the week they were designing and completing their own masterpieces. We bonded as a group quickly and constantly helped each other by calling out, “Did you plug your egg?” as one or more students headed for the dye table. “Show and tell,” was followed by oohs and aahs as the finished eggs made their way around the class.
Saturday and the end of our stay came too quickly, but with the hope of a return trip next year, we parted as long-time friends instead of students and teacher. That’s a really good feeling in my book.
For the first time we are offering a whole week of classes at the Studio at Oak Hills Church in Folsom, California. Think of it as Arts Camp for older youth and adults. Featuring ceramics, drawing, painting, paper crafts and egg art on five different nights, classes begin Monday, July 24, 2017. Check here for more details and to register for one or more classes.
I’ll be teaching the beginning pysanky class on Friday, July 28th from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Sign up early to get a discount and reserve your spot.
This Saturday from 5 to 9 PM in village Green Park of Rancho Cordova. It’s a fun event for the whole family. I’ll have a cultural display booth of pysanky so come out and say hi!
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.
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!
This just in…Two Ukrainian Egg Workshops on Saturday March 12, 2016
9:30 AM to 12 PM — Introductory Class
This basic class is for anyone who wants to take the first steps in making these colorful eggs. No previous experience or skill needed.
1 to 3:30 PM–Trypillian Egg Decorating
In this class we will use the same layering of wax and dyes as in the introductory class, but work on a very different style of Ukrainian egg.
To sign up contact Carmichael Recreation and Park District. For more details and to register, click here.
This just in…the 2016 Incredible Egg Calendar is finished and it’s beautiful. So many wonderful artists around the world contributed photos. I’m honored to report a couple of mine made the cut.
Clicking on the above photo will take you to the calendar page at Lulu.com and once you are there click on the tiny word “Preview” directly underneath the cover photo to scroll through the month by month photos.
It’s that time of year. The 2015 Incredible Eggs calendar is out and I think this one is the best yet. And that’s not just because I have two egg photos in it this year. Click here to see the details and to preview the gorgeous photos.
Doing what you love is a good thing…but doing it with a bunch of other people who also love it is an amazingly good thing. I spent last week in Pennsylvania with 60+ other pysanky artists at an egg retreat learning, teaching, connecting and laughing with friends old and new. To put it simply, I went to summer camp for adults…and I highly recommend it.
This is my third year attending the Pysanky USA Retreat. I took a few classes, taught a few classes and mostly hung out in the “play room” where we could work on our own projects as we talked and shared about egg art and life in general. The room population ebbed and flowed throughout the day as classes started which allowed me to meet new people with the luxury of unhurried time on our side. Free flowing ideas sparked new techniques, new color combinations, new dyes to try. Wow, my brain got full fast!
I came away from this week not only with a renewed enthusiasm for this art but with a sense of community and connectedness to my fellow pysanky artists across the country. And I’m already looking forward to next year!
There is nothing better than combining kids and God and art all at the same time. That’s what Arts Camp at Oak Hills Church does…and does very well I might add. Our Children’s Pastor, Colleen Gray and her amazing team turn our church campus and hundreds of volunteers into a smooth-running, exciting, enthusiastic machine where nearly three hundred kids get to experience God for a whole week through arts such as Dance, Theater, Music, Visual Arts, Creative Craftsmanship, and Culinary Arts.
The seven fifth/sixth grade girls in my pysanky class accomplished much more than any previous year’s class. Most of them finished four eggs and some more than that. I beamed as they proudly showed their parents the results of their focused work in class. And their excitement spilled over at home as parent after parent reported back to me how their child couldn’t stop talking about their eggs and how sad they were when Friday finally arrived.
I am a “behind the scenes” person by nature. I do not like being the center of attention. And that sentiment goes a long way back. In second grade I remember vividly a time when our classroom ended up with an extra red rubber ball after recess one day. My teacher asked for a volunteer to return it to the neighboring classroom and everyone jumped up waving arms ecstatically in the air. That is, everyone except me. I sat quietly with hands folded thinking, ”Why would anyone want to go and do that?” Sister Mary Vincent settled the class down and then imagine my shock when she called on me. I began quaking in my saddle shoes as she handed me the ball. I can still feel the terror of leaving the safety of my classroom to walk that long hallway, knock on the door and then enter the other classroom, all eyes fixed on me. Oh the horror!
Given my aversion to the limelight, it’s rather hard to imagine myself on television but that’s what happened on the Friday before Easter. With just a few days notice Channel 31 Good Day Sacramento’s Cody Stark and his camera man came into my kitchen to highlight my egg art. Me on live TV, just like that. I didn’t have much time beforehand to fret and get nervous which is probably a good thing. And talking about pysanky and demonstrating the process was easy. While I can’t exactly call myself a television star, I can at least say,”Want to see me on TV? Click here.”
I got a package in the mail this week. I knew it was on its way but had nearly forgotten, so seeing it in the postal box and tearing it open brought a Christmas morning thrill. At last, the promised September 2012 issue from the Egg Artistry Guild of Australia. And on page 19 I found an article with my name and some photos of my eggs. I’m practically famous!
In case you’re wondering, here’s the path that led to this article. At the egg retreat in July I took a class on etching emu eggs and posted a photo of the finished egg to my pysanky chat group. The editor of the Australian Guild saw it, contacted the owner of Pysanky USA, the online store that sponsored the retreat, who called me to ask permission to pass on my information. A flurry of emails back and forth and voila, people in Australia are now reading my one page feature. Small world, huh?
The changing season brings a new pysanky display to the Kennedy Gallery. Ostrich, goose, duck, and chicken eggs in brilliant reds offer lots eye candy just in time for the holiday season. Take a peek at these and all the other art in this wonderful midtown Sacramento gallery.
Need an excuse to go for a short drive? Come see some of my Christmas pysanky at the Ordaz Gallery in old town Auburn, California. Frank Ordaz, an award-winning oil painter, specializes in portraits and you can chat with him as he works in this downtown gallery/studio Tuesdays through Saturdays.
My eggs go formal at the Kennedy Gallery, 1114 20th Street,Sacramento,CA,95811. These black and white pysanky feature a wide variety of designs without the distraction of color.
And if you’re looking for an excuse to get out and about, Second Saturday Artwalk happens this weekend and provides a great opportunity to explore the art galleries in midtown.
April 9, 2011 from 7 to 9 PM
Enjoy a relaxed evening at the Fair Oaks Village Second Saturday Art Walk. I’ll be a Bella Fiore Florist from 7 to 9 PM answering questions about these eggs.
In addition this Saturday evening will be a time to say farewell to current owners, Bill and Deborah Brown, and say hello to new owners, Dawn and Chris Conyers. See their blog for more details.