Ann Orenak was born and raised in Ford City. When she was married, she learned from her Ukrainian husband’s parents the art of Pysanka. She was at the Ford City Library on Saturday to show about a dozen women how to create Pysanka Easter eggs.
The creation of Ukrainian Easter Eggs is no small task, she said.
“It takes up to 3 hours to do one egg because the time it takes to put the design on the egg itself is a long process.”
Preparation is important before starting the process.
“First of all, you wash your hands with soap and water to get all the oils off your fingers. And, then we also wash the egg with a little bit of vinegar. You take your egg and you put some vinegar on it and your fingertips and then you rinse it off to get all the oils off your fingertips and the egg so that it doesn’t cause the dye not to go into the eggshell at that point. If you have too much oil on your fingers, then the dye doesn’t penetrate the shell because the oil is there.”
Many egg artists use rubber bands on the egg and draw lines in pencil. This method assures that lines are straight.
“You use a stylus, which is an instrument that has a metal funnel on the end of it that we fill with black wax. And, at the end of the funnel is a tiny hole which is used to draw on the egg. Wax comes out of the hole and you slowly put the pattern on the egg. You are literally drawing, freehand, all of these or a pattern on the egg.”
Egg decorating has been a tradition in many cultures. Today, prepackaged kits feature a wax crayon and use hard-boiled eggs. But that is far from the procedure used to create Pysanka ornaments.
“The crayon’s the same idea except that it’s a larger, fatter, less precise way. The stylist will draw a very fine line so you can do very intricate patterns on the eggs. Once you draw your initial pattern with a pencil on the egg, you are going to layer wax over top of colors. So, you start with a white, raw egg and you draw your initial design that you want to remain white. After you got what you want drawn white, then you put the egg in the first color which is generally the lightest color which is yellow. Then, you let it in there for a couple of minutes to have the dye penetrate the shell.”
Orenak said raw eggs must be used.
“If you hard boil the egg, the consistency of the shell changes and it won’t take dye. So, these eggs are raw eggs that we use until the end process when we empty out the egg. And, I do that by drilling a hole and pulling out the yolk.”
Orenak said the artist does sequential drawing and dipping of the egg in various dye until the final design is done.
“We remove all the wax and then I spray mine with a shellac to give them a gloss and then I hollow it out – I draw out the egg yolk.”
A video of the first part of Orenak’s teaching from Saturday’s class is below: