Nothing gets you into the Easter spirit quite like hunching over an egg to painstakingly draw designs into it with melted wax and dying it repeatedly for hours, only to potentially drop it or just let it collect dust on a shelf after Easter is over.
Ukrainian eggs are eggs that are decorated using melted wax and dyes. Not sure why they’re called Ukrainian eggs in North America as many countries in Europe do this for Easter, including Poland, which are called pisanki. They certainly don’t call them Ukrainian eggs in Ukraine…or even just ‘eggs’ (they’re called pysanky). In both Polish and Ukrainian, this word is derived from the word meaning to write.
Fun history fact: there were actually old eggs (imagine the smell) found in Poland that were decorated with wax that dated back to the 10th century — holy moly!
I’ve wanted to make these Ukrainian eggs for a while but had no idea what to do. Then I asked my friend Kelly to teach me how to do it. Graciously, she agreed and ended up teaching a few of us (shout out to the Egg Crew…you know who you are).
To effectively make these eggs, you need supplies (obviously) but also patience and a lot of time. I made 3.5 eggs (one fell and smashed part way through) and they took me 6 hours. It probably doesn’t always take that long as there were 6 of us making them, some for the first time, chatting and sharing supplies. But to be honest, time flew by. I enjoyed it and I didn’t lose my shit like I thought I would when I broke my egg.
There are lots of designs that you can find online or just make up your own. You’re basically just building off the initial design, so adding a little bit more each time and dying it at each stage, going from light to dark colours.
Why make these eggs? Well if you didn’t notice by my blog, I enjoy crafts. Plus, Polish people take part in Święconka, which is blessing of the Easter basket that contains the food which you’ll eat on Easter Sunday. And you better believe I’m gonna put my basket front and centre to show off my eggs and look down on other people’s store bought or mono-coloured eggs. No, that is not be being a jerk at church…because the blessing is actually done in the church basement.
Ukrainian Eggs aka Pisanki
Rags & paper towels
You can buy starter kits online or perhaps at a craft store. My friend Kelly buys them from some hermit that lives outside of town. I guess hermits like to craft sometimes too…they certainly have the time.
Make sure your eggs are white and don’t have any stamps on them. To clean them off, soak the eggs in a solution of water and vinegar (4:1 parts should be fine) for 10-15 min. I kept them in the bowl until it was ready for my artistic skills. Make sure to wash your hands with soap to remove any oils from your fingers.
So setup your dyes in jars/containers and fill them up enough to cover an egg. Lay down some newspaper and paper towels so that when you take the egg out, you can put it on the paper towel and not drip dye all over the place. I used a spoon but be careful as my first egg rolled off the spoon and smashed on the counter.
Print out some designs or freehand. My friend Katie did this as she claims she’s a free spirit but also an innovator. I mean, can’t really argue with that what someone is freeballing (or should I say free-egging…hehehe).
Light a candle to warm up the tip of your kiska. This is the tool that you will use to pick up melted wax and apply a design to your egg. If you can’t find one, I’ve seen people use other little tools to apply the wax. I’ve even seen someone using pin heads (like the sewing kind, not the morons) to make their designs.
This is a process, so you make part of the design, put it in a light-coloured dye, take it out, dry it, add to the next layer of design, dye with a medium colour, etc. You want to ensure you’re going from light to dark colours.
Once you’re done your design, you want to grab a rag or cloth that you don’t care about, hold your egg next to a candle’s flame to melt it, then wipe off the wax. Just remember, these are eggs, not marshmallows. They will burn and it won’t be good, so don’t just jam the egg in the flame. Do it next to it. If you’re burning your fingers, you’ve probably burned your egg. Way to go, egghead!
Now you can add these eggs to your Easter basket or as a centerpiece for your dinner table. I just wouldn’t recommend eating them as they’ve been dyed and also sitting around for a while. Don’t keep them in the direct sun as it can fade or breakdown the dye. Over time, the inside will somehow dry out but still be careful because if it cracks, the smell will probably be worse than egg farts. They’ll be old egg farts. Gross!