March 14, 2013

My First Attempt At Pisanki Egg Decorating

I placed my father's Ukrainian Easter egg decorating kit along with his books and instructions next to my vinegar washed eggs, and headed out the door to my friends house. We were going to learn how to decorate Pisanki Easter Eggs.

The word Pisanki, derived from the Polish verb pisac, means to write. The process involves decorating eggs with dye and hand drawn decorations. The art of Pisanki has a long history dating back centuries, the eggs symbolize the breaking of Lent and the celebration of Easter.

After reading the direction, I was fascinated with the process and was excited to learn how to do this technique. Among our small group of eager egg decorators was Kay who had learned the art of  Pisanki egg decorating in the 1970's. She was our mentor during the process.

We set up our items needed to start decorating our eggs. A kistka, which lays a wax line on the eggs, a small block of bees wax, and a candle to heat up the kistka. 

My first two step were completed, and now my egg was ready for the first color.

The first step is to draw your design using a pencil, next heat the kistka using the flame of a candle, scoop a little bees wax into the funnel of the kistka and began to write/draw the lines, keeping the kistka at right angles with the egg. 

First color bath for my Pisanki egg.

The dying process always starts with the lightest color working towards the darkest, and after five minutes the egg is removed from the color bath using a spoon and is gently patted dry. Again using the kistka write/draw the lines that you want to remain yellow.

After the orange color bath.
Green is applied to your design using a toothpick or Q-tip and is covered with wax before the orange color bath. Orange will remove the color green so hand application of green is required. More writing/drawing was added using the kistka.

After the red color bath.

The same process using the kistka was used before the red and final color bath of black.

Last color bath of black before I can
melt the wax and see my design.
I was excited to unveil my design by melting the wax off of the egg. There are many ways to remove the wax, an electric hand heater, in the oven, or hold the egg near a candle flame. The method we used was the flame from a candle. 

After the last color bath and before the wax is melted and removed.
Removing the wax from the egg is an exciting process.
At last you are able to see your design.

Never hold the egg over the top of the flame you run the chance of black carbon discoloring your egg. As the wax melts from the egg you wipe the melted wax away using a paper towel, this process takes time, but is exciting as your design is revealed.

A word of caution, I wanted to make sure I had properly waxed off my design, and in doing so, I used to much wax. So I had to wait longer than my friends to reveal my design.

Waiting for the wax to melt so I can reveal my design.
My first glimpse of my Pisanki design.

I continued to remove my wax, notice all of
the others are finished and blowing out their eggs.
Kay brought her instrument that helps blow out the contents from the egg.
The first egg was blown out without a problem, but the second egg cracked.

At long last, all of my wax is removed. I didn't want my egg to break,
so I didn't remove the raw egg. It will take three years for the inside of
the egg to get hard. Hope it doesn't break and stink up the joint.

After twenty minutes of wax removal, my Pisanki egg was finished. It certainly is not perfect, but I now understand the process, and have a better idea how to make my next Pisanki egg design and how to use the kistka and the bees wax properly.

Our Pisanki Eggs. 

The Pisanki egg on the right was produced by Mary who has been doing this since the 1970's. The other three eggs were our first attempt at Pisanki Egg Decorating.

I was pretty proud of my first egg, remember I was not blessed with a DIY gene, so I don't have much artistic ability. I enjoyed doing the Pisanki egg decorating, and will be making another attempt real soon.



  1. How wonderful to learn a new/old skill. I think it turned out beautiful. What a fun day with friends it must of been.

  2. Wow - that is a very long process and I am proud of you for doing it.

  3. Those are really pretty! Hopefully you can save it and it won't start smelling.

  4. Great, Paulette! Glad you shared this with us.

  5. Wow, they are all beautiful! I had no idea you could leave the raw egg inside to dry out.

    I've got an old, old decorated egg that belonged to my great grandmother; I treasure it. I hope you will continue creating your Pisanki Easter eggs so your family will have them to treasure years from now.

  6. LOVE IT!!! I did one back when I was a teenager it was ugly but the process was so much fun

  7. paulette, these are beautiful!!! i didnt know you can leave the raw egg inside too... learn something new everyday :D thank you!

  8. Such patience, Paulette! When I lived out west, I visited a Ukrainian museum (in Saskatchewan) and purchased a beautiful pysanka for my mother. In the town of Vegreville, there was (still is, I imagine) a large sculpture of one. I've never tried to paint one.