Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Before The Egg Hunt, There Were The Eggs

When I was little, really little, my dad used to color Easter eggs. Not the ones with the vegetable dye in the pastel colors. No, he created works of art. He practiced pysanky, the Ukranian version of coloring eggs.

I think he would start early in February. There wasn't much room in our house, so he had a makeshift area set up in my parent's bedroom. I remember everything came in paper packets. The different colored dyes were powdered and he mixed them in a vinegar and water solution, if I remember correctly. There were jars, saved throughout the year, of just the right size. The stylus he used to draw, the beeswax used to make the design and the candle. And the eggs of course.

He would sit and work with a small desk lamp. How the process worked was he would think up a design, heat the stylus, which was no more than an open-ended metal cone wired onto a stick. He would then take the heated stylus and rub it against the beeswax, melting it enough to drop into the cone. Then he would heat the cone and the wax would flow out of a tiny hole at the tip.

Whatever pattern he wanted to stay white, he would cover with the wax. When he was done with white, he would dip the egg in yellow or pink dye. You went from lighter colors to darker colors. He would then cover with wax everything he wanted to be in that color. Then dip the egg into the next color. The processed was repeated until you got to the final color of black. At this point, the egg was nearly covered in black wax.

Then came the best part. Holding the egg in one hand and a soft cloth in another, he would hold the egg close to the flame to melt the wax and wipe it off. And like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, the beautiful design that only he knew in his head, was unveiled. For me, it was magic.

My mother had some of his eggs, but my aunt bought a lot of them. He sold them for $1 each. How funny is that. When my aunt passed away a few years ago, those eggs were the one thing I wanted to get back. The above picture shows some of them. I gave the other half to my brother and at some point I know my niece will have all the eggs... in one basket. Hopefully, they will be passed down another generation or two before the story, just like their once bright colors have faded.

Miss you Pops.



  1. Very nice. I really admire how he put such painstaking detail into decorating those eggs.

    1. Thanks Vinny, he was extremely detailed oriented.

  2. looking at those eggs,have no clue how he did such beautiful,time consuming,precise,detailed work.Then again,if u knew the man,u would understand.made my life richer&i learned a lot from he is coloring some eggs topside about now.miss ya GIPP