The art and craft of pysanky

Posts tagged “eggs

My People

Pysanky artists seem to be few and far between here on the West Coast.  This art originated in the Eastern European area of Ukraine, Poland, Russia, Lithuania etc. and immigrants brought it to this country.  Like my dad’s family, most of them settled on the East Coast or across Canada and not so many came to central California where I live now.  As a result it is rare for me to meet others who share my love for creating this type of egg art.

Thankfully the internet has put other artists within my reach.  Just over a year ago I joined an online pysanky chat group and began learning new techniques and tips from our discussions.  I thought I knew a lot about creating these eggs already, but found a whole new world of fun to explore.  These new-found friends willingly shared knowledge and sparked a renewed excitement in me and my work.

A couple of weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to meet some of these people face to face at a pysanky retreat.  Forty of us spent time hanging out together at a beautiful retreat center in Dalton, Pennsylvania.  I walked into that place never having met anyone but immediately I felt like I was among “my people.”  The names I knew became faces as we all spoke the same language and got excited about the same things.  Together we took classes, admired each others’ work, freely shared ideas, and continued our own projects.

 

 

 In short, I lived and breathed pysanky.

I think I just got a taste of heaven.


Floral Blues at the Kennedy

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As part of the 4th Annual Spring Flower Show at the Kennedy Gallery you can see some of my classic blue and white eggs in various sizes from quail to ostrich.

Join the artists this Thursday, April 12,  from 6 to 8 PM  at the Preview Thursday Reception.

And don’t forget the Second Saturday Artwalk April 14 from 4 to 9 PM.


Getting It Right

Lest you think more highly of me as an artist than you should, I have to set the record straight.  The photographs you see in my galleries are the cream of the crop of my pysanky.  What you don’t see are my less than successful endeavors.

Sometimes it’s not my fault.  Sometimes the eggshell is damaged in a way that doesn’t show up until near the end of the process.  That’s why I don’t use grocery store eggs anymore.  Mechanical rollers leave invisible scratches on mass produced eggshells.  It’s very disheartening to put hours of work into an egg only to discover on the final dye that imperfections mar the design.

Lots of times, though, it is definitely my fault.  I have mistakenly covered areas in wax when I shouldn’t have.  I’ve forgotten to cover areas with wax when I should have, which means they end up a different color than I had originally planned.  I have also dyed the whole egg the wrong color and there is no “undo” button for that.

Even finishing an egg isn’t any guarantee of success.  More than once I have bobbled an egg just as I was taking off the final bits of wax.  Sometimes they bounce on the table and stay whole, but twice I accidentally crushed the egg between my stomach and the table edge while trying to keep it from falling.  And you can’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.

The most irritating of all are mistakes I make from inattention or impatience.  Last year I was in a hurry because of a close deadline so I put the egg in an oven with the light on, thinking the warm air would help it dry faster.  I foolishly thought the light would also warn my boys to remove the egg before preheating the oven.  They didn’t and there is no “undo” button for a burnt, browned egg either.  Trust me.

The photos here show a simple project that turned endless.  On the first egg you can see some unattractive dye imperfections from hen scratches.  So I tried again.  The second egg burned when the tissue I was using to wipe the wax from the egg caught on fire.  Egg number three turned out better than the previous two attempts but I was nervous the whole way through the process.

Whatever the reason for these mistakes, there is something to be said for the character quality of persistence.  And that’s what God is teaching me through this art these days.


The Artist in Community

Truth be told, I love stealing away to my workspace alone, leaving the rest of the world behind as I immerse myself in the work and play of wax and dyes and eggs.  There is something healing and soul restoring about the quiet, repetitive actions these eggs require.  I can’t seem to get enough time alone like this so when I do, I enjoy it thoroughly.

Interacting with other artists is just as valuable to my soul, yet I don’t make nearly enough time for it in my life.  Why is it so hard for me?  I understand the value of community, I enjoy learning about the art and soul journeys of others, and I get inspired when I hear other artists speak with passion about their art.

I realize I love my comfortable “alone” zone so to push against these introverted leanings, I meet monthly with other artists.  In the Sacramento area, the Covenant Artists meet on the third Thursday of each month and artists of all media and skill levels are welcome.  This group exists to share, discover, and learn about ourselves, our art and our God.

If you would like to stretch your artistic side, I highly recommend connecting with other artists.  Isn’t it time for you to step out of your comfort zone too?


A Miniature World

It’s a mystery to me that I can pick colors and create intricate designs on a tiny egg without a problem but when it comes to decorating my house, I am clueless.  I have friends whose homes are beautifully color coordinated with wall hangings, knickknacks and furniture.  They truly have the home decorating gene and it’s awesome to experience.  I, on the other hand, have realized that if the area to be decorated is larger than about six inches, I have no idea where to start or what to do.

I’ve always loved miniature things.  As a child, I delighted in making tiny items for my beloved troll dolls.  A toothpaste cap became a bucket while pieces of string turned a toothpick into a mop.  My shoebox dollhouse had “real art” on its walls made from wooden matchstick frames and small magazine clippings.  When I learned to knit I created many mouse-sized stocking caps just for the fun of it.

Even now as I analyze what gives me pleasure I can see that I lean toward the little every time.  Baby birds…well just about baby anything for that matter…miniature flowers versus their larger cousins… hummingbirds with their teeny tiny feet…1000 piece puzzles… cross-stitch patterns designed for 22 stitches-per-inch fabric…very petite Christmas ornaments…you get the idea.

So I take my hat off to those of you who enjoy working in larger slices of life.  You have a talent I greatly admire but I think I’ll stay in my miniature world.  And you’re welcome to come visit me anytime.