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Ukrainian Easter Eggs

Easter eggs decorated with intricate and colorful designs have been a Ukrainian art form for centuries.  The tools and techniques demonstrated here can be used to produce traditional Ukrainian motifs or your own improvisations.  In either case the basic principle is simple: using the equipment shown below, a raw white egg is dipped into successively darker colors of dye, while areas to be protected against a dye at any stage are covered with beeswax.


Click on any image below to enlarge it for greater detail.

Pencil

Stylus with hollow point

Beeswax

Tablespoon

Candle

Vegetable Dyes

Yellow, Orange, Red and Black

Step 1

Holding the pencil steady in one hand and rotating the egg in the other, draw a light pencil line completely around the egg lengthwise.

Step 2

Starting again at the top of the egg, draw another line crossing the first at right angles, thus dividing the egg into quarters.

Step 3

Now draw a third, horizontal line around the middle of the egg.

Step 4

Load the stylus by scraping the open end across the beeswax, and hold the point briefly over a candle flame. Test the flow of wax from the stylus point on a piece of paper, then draw the stylus over the penciled lines on the egg.

Step 5

With the stylus, draw new lines bisecting the open areas and dividing each area into six triangles.

Step 6

Place the egg in a spoon and dip it into the yellow vegetable dye. Gently pat it dry with facial tissue.

Step 7

Draw small circles in alternate triangles with the wax‑loaded stylus.

Step 8

The waxed circles will remain yellow when the egg is dipped into orange dye.

Step 9

Pat dry again, then place a dot of wax in the center of each circle.

Step 10

Dip into the red dye, and pat dry.

Step 11

Next draw fine diagonal lines in each of the remaining triangles.

Step 12

Immerse in the black dye.

Step 13

To make the colors gleam on the decorated egg, melt off the protective coats of wax by holding the egg over the flame, rotating and wiping it gently with a facial tissue.

Step 14

The decorated egg, though fragile, will keep for years, long after its contents dry up. Keep decorated eggs out of direct sunlight so that the colors will not fade.

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