December 01, 2019

Pysanky for Peace


Pysanky for Peace
An assortment of pysanky. Lyuba Petrusha

In peaceful times, giant eggs would often appear in Ukrainian cities ahead of Easter, showcasing the art of the pysanka (pysanka is derived from pysaty, "to write," pysanky is the plural form).  Shops would fill with these delicate souvenirs, and Ukrainian artists, or pysankary, would be busy selling their creations over various internet platforms. 

An image from the pysanka festival in Kyiv in 2017, when over 500 pysankas graced the city
Oldest known pysanka found in 2013 and
thought to be from the sixteenth century.
From Pysanky.info.
An item from the Pysanka Museum in Kolomiya
created in 2002.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The traditional pysanka is an egg that has been carefully emptied of its contents—one way is to drill a small hole at either end and slowly blow the egg out of a shell—and decorated. The artist applies the design with beeswax using a special instrument called pisachok (another name for it is kistka) and dunks the egg in dyed water. The process can be repeated several times if more colors are required, though traditional motifs often have just one. At the end, the wax is melted with heat from a candle and wiped clean.

Pysanky-making instruments: the wax is scraped into the pysachok, heated over a candle
flame and applied onto the eggshell. Kits like these are sold in the US, but you can also
order one from a Ukrainian shop. This one is offered by a seller in Sumy. ​​​​Keep in mind that
many cities are under siege which can make deliveries delayed or impossible.

 

To see the technique demonstrated, check out videos made by Tetyana Konoval, who taught children's classes in Kyiv before the war, and is now hosting candlelight workshops online. 

 

Konoval also has an online shop where you can order pysanky created by her and other artists. You can also purchase a step-by-step guide with the main ornaments, which is easily downloadable.

This year, war has uprooted millions of people and many artists have also been forced to flee. Some have warned potential buyers that they cannot guarantee timely delivery of their items. It is still possible to support Ukrainian pysankary: if you don't want to purchase a pysanka, some shops accept donations through purchase of a digital image, such as this one.

Check out the following artists if you're interested in buying pysanky or just supporting them in a very difficult time. Click on the image to proceed to the page on Etsy or Instagram.

These pysanky are made by Alina from Dnipro and are
available through her Instagram. Alina also makes
beautiful all-white etched pysanky.

    

Nataliia Yanishevska from Kyiv paints with hot beeswax, a slightly
different method. Note the modern styles and use of goose eggs.

 

Tetyana Melnyk is from Sumy, one of the hardest-hit cities. She is
still taking orders and offering digital images of her works for sale.

 

Oleg, another artist from Sumy with folk patterns. You can also
support Oleg through purchasing a digital image.
Bohdan from Vasylkiv, a town that was very
hard-hit early in the war, uses a different
technique: the eggs are painted and then
hand-scratched with a sharp tool

 

Dana from Kiev makes intricately laced pysanky by drilling through
the eggshell. She says he has fled to Poland but has taken her instruments with her.
You can also purchase digital images in her shop to support her family.
Halyna Kovalenko from Lviv offers traditional pysanky as 
well as pysanka-style earrings made from eggshells.

 

Tamara Fedorenko, another artist from Kyiv.
Check out her Instagram

 

Pysanka artists are also participating in the Pysanky for Peace project: if you are artistically inclined, you can paint your own egg, or sponsor one painted by somebody else. Proceeds will go to Razom, an organization helping with emergency response in Ukraine.

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