Pysanky Tutorial

I swear it’s not in the Rake and Make submission guidelines that you have to be a retired rollergirl to submit, because we don’t have submission guidelines (yet)! It just so happens that rollergirls tend to be multi-talented gals, who want to do it all.  It also happens that I met some really amazing ladies during my roller derby years, that have become lifelong friends. One of them is Sarah Ruppert.

Sarah’s roller derby roots go deep. Her skate name was “Bonnie Collide” and she was on the Sockit Wenches, who were the Throttle Rocket’s rivals (Flower and I were Throttle Rockets). Not only does she have a sister who skated with the Texas Rollergirls, but she is married to former Sockit Wenches mascot,  Cooter the Grease Monkey. It was a family affair.

Sarah made the coolest bearded bunny faced scarecrow for her garden, that I have been coveting since she made it. Then there’s the hand sewn stacking doll mobile that she made for her daughter, Hazel. And she’s an amazing cook.  Oh and I did I mention that she does this all while being a mom?

Bringing her own style and skills to the table (she also makes jewelry), Sarah is another great addition to the blog. Welcome Sarah!

-Lilly

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Every year when Spring rolls around, I look forward to the day when I can take a long, rainy afternoon to sit in my kitchen nook and make pysanky.  Springtime in Seattle can be a test of patience and endurance; the glow of the candle, the warmth of the wax, and the bright colors of the dyes are just the cure for those wet and windy March days.  Today was just that kind of day, so I took out my kitsky and my mason jars of dyes and settled into my nook.

One night a few weeks ago when I had trouble settling into sleep, my husband told me, “Think of egg designs.” Well, that kept me up for a while! But when I finally drifted into sleep, a colorful, folk-arty hare hopped through my dreams. The hare of my dreams found its way onto my egg today.

 Pysanky, by the way, are Ukrainian Easter eggs.  They are made using a process of wax resist and dying, layer after layer.

Here is how it is done:

I start by letting my egg come to room temperature in warm, soapy water. I want the egg to be room temperature and not cold so that it will not sweat, which keeps the wax from sticking.  And I use soapy water to remove any oil or cloaca schmutz from the egg. (Side note: I taught the word “cloaca” to my 8th grade students last week, as a word that they could call pesky younger siblings. They were delighted.)

For this pysanky, I used a brown egg, because it was what was in my fridge. Brown eggs lend deeper, richer, earthier colors; white eggs tend to give more vivid jewel-tones.

I then lightly draw my design in pencil.  Any mistakes I make can be removed with a watered down solution of vinegar and water. Pencil erasers are abrasive and cause scratches on the shell, and should not be used.

My first dip is in yellow dye. Every egg reacts differently to the dyes, and each dye reacts differently than the others in terms of how well it sets.  The yellow did not set vary vividly onto the egg, resulting in a sort of straw color.

Now I heat up my kitsky in the candle flame. This allows me to scoop beeswax like ice cream, and then draw with it on my egg.

I lay down wax on top of everything I want to keep yellow.

My first layer is down. Now I will move on to my next color.

I wind up going back and forth between the light blue dye and the light green dye until I get the shade I want.

The result is a dusty turquoise, which delights me.

Again, I lay down wax, this time on top of everything I want to keep turquoise.

Into the red dye.  This red is my favorite dye color. It is so vibrant and intense.. nothing like the insipid mint greens and powder pinks that PAAS dyes will give you.

Red!

After applying wax to all the areas I want to keep red, I go for my last dip into the black dye. It needs to sit in here for a while for the black to become coal black and mask the other colors.

Now it is time to remove the wax. I do this by heating the egg up at the edge of the candle flame, and then gently buffing it off with a cloth. This is my favorite part, because the design starts to reveal itself.

And here it is, the final product.

I am thinking of doing a whole woodland animal series.  Oh my god.. wouldn’t a hedgehog pysanky be just too freaking cute? And a little mouse, and a squirrel, and a fox and…

Pysanky very much!

Sarah

About Sarah

I’m Sarah Ruppert. When I was nine my family moved from the suburbs of Houston to a double-wide trailer on two acres of land in the pinion-and-juniper mountains of New Mexico. We had no cable TV and zero access to pop culture, so I found other ways to entertain myself. I made things out of cat tails. I hunted wild asparagus. I dried apple slices on a stump and ate them. I held horny toad circuses. I hunted arrowheads. I honestly, swear to god, cannot name a Duran Duran song or the characters of 90210 to save my life, but I CAN entertain myself for hours on end with whatever might be available to me.
These days, I entertain myself by telling PG 13 jokes to the middle school students I teach, chasing my toddler daughter Hazel around, making jewelry for myself and my friends, cooking elaborate meals, gardening, and dabbling in various crafts.
As work and motherhood wears on me, it takes an effort to keep up on doing the things I enjoy doing. I’m so excited to be a part of Rake and Make! I feel so lucky to have friends that inspire and encourage me to do the things I love to do!

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