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supplies you'll need
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original dye recipes
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updated NOV 24 2017
Supplies You'll Need to Create a Pysanka
There are 6 basic colors: Yellow, Orange, Light Blue, Light Green, Bright Red (Scarlet), and Black. Those are the colors you would need to complete the eggs on this website. Other colors that are available for the more serious egg artist are: Gold, Purple, Turquoise, Royal Blue, Brick, Dark Red, Red (Cherry), Pink, Brown, and Dark Green.
Please be sure to purchase Ukrainian Easter Egg dyes (i.e., not just the regular food dyes for eggs that you can buy at Easter time in craft stores). This art requires special dyes, and if you don't use the right ones, the eggs will not turn out as well as you might have liked. These chemical dyes are noticeably more vibrant than regular food dyes. If in doubt, ask the sales person!
orange dye wash
This is nothing more than an extra orange dye. You use this before dipping the egg in the orange dye, because orange frequently loses its brightness due to diluting from blues and greens. If you dip it in the wash first, it will lose its color over time, but your orange dye won't. It might take a little more time dyeing the egg orange twice, but it will make your eggs look that much better in the long run.
This is the instrument with which you apply the beeswax to the egg. It consists of a wooden dowel for the handle, with a brass funnel secured to the handle with copper wire. You heat the funnel in the flame of the candle, and scoop the wax out with the funnel end. Then you heat it again, so the wax melts. The wax will flow out of the small end of the funnel, and this is how the design is applied. If it should become clogged up (the wax no longer flows easily), scoop up some candle wax, and melt it. Tap the wax out on the newspapers. When you can see through the funnel, its clean. You can also buy a fine wire to run through the funnel, which should fix the clog. To the left is a newish traditional kistka (they get much blacker with use), and to the right is an electric kistka.
This is used to block the dye on the egg. You use the kistka to apply the wax, and wherever the wax is, the dye won't go. This is how we layer the different colors on the egg. Beeswax is used instead of candle wax because candle wax is not nearly as effective a blocker of dye.
egg blower (optional)
A device to empty eggs. It can be purchased fairly cheaply. It consists of a large black bulb, with a small hole at the end, at which is a sharp spike of metal, which is used to gently drill holes at the top and bottom of the egg. It usually comes with a thin metal rod to insert through the hole to break the yolk inside, to make it easier to empty it. Then you re-insert the metal spike and squeeze the bulb--this causes the egg insides to come out the other hole. This must be done slowly and carefully, or you may break your egg (which is quite a disappointment, after all the work you've put in your egg!!). After its emptied, you should rinse it out well with water. This is only one model, there are a few different ones on the market--they're cheap enough that you can try a few out, to find the one that suits you best.
A device to empty eggs. It can be purchased fairly cheaply, at agricultural supply stores. Be sure to buy one with a very fine needle. You stick the needle (or a pin) in gently at the top and bottom of the egg. Then stick a thin piece of wire down into the egg to break up the yolk. At this point, you can stick the needle in, and suck the contents of the egg out. This should be done slowly. Be sure to rinse out the egg once its emptied, with water. I have never personally used a syringe to empty eggs, but I hear from more than one source that it is quite easy. (Thanks to Emanda J. for details as to the syringe's use).
You may wish to apply gloss to your eggs when they are completed, and the wax removed. You can use clear gloss varnish, varathane, or shellac. Be sure to test it on a little area first: some varnishes cause the color to run. You will know almost instantly whether this is the case.
White, large to extra large chicken eggs are generally used--however, goose and duck eggs are also common (along with the occasional ostrich egg). They MUST be raw, and at room temperature. Check the surface of the shell for any bumps or imperfections (bumps are difficult to draw around). Hold the egg to the light--if you see any hairline cracks, DON'T use it.
This is used to clean the egg (use about half a cup of water to one tsp of vinegar) and to strengthen some when they start to fade (with the exception of Orange and Pink). Just add a teaspoon to the dye if your eggs are coming out a little pale, and it will revitalize them.
This is to lay out over your work area.
tissues, and lots of them!
These are used to blot the kistka on, to dab the eggs dry when they come out of the dye, and to wipe the wax off the eggs when completed.
These are used to melt the wax in the kistka, and afterwards, to melt the wax off of the egg. Use short ones, so you won't strain your arm reaching so high all the time.
These are to dip the eggs into each of the dyes. Tablespoons are generally used because they're larger.
pencil (a light one)
This is used to draw guidelines on the egg before any wax is applied. This cuts down on mistakes. If you are greatly concerned about the pencil marks being left behind, you might want to try a "non-repro blue" pencil, available at most art shops (and, I believe, most business supply stores). It stays on well without smudging, and comes off easily in the final stages of cleaning off the wax. (Thanks to Oksana S. for the suggestion).
These can be used to apply a touch of dye, when there is only a little of a particular color needed in the design. Swab a little dye in the area where you want the color to be, cover the parts that you want with wax, and the rest will be covered up when you dip it in the next dye.
The thick kind that mail carriers use. These can help you draw lines straighter on your eggs, by using the edge of the band to guide you.
This consists of a flat board, with short nails pounded into it in tripod formation. This is to rest the eggs on, when they are drying after being shellacked, or they are drying up after being drained. Its best to use finishing nails for this project, because the nail heads will leave less of a mark on the varnish (from where the egg has to rest on the nail heads).
This is only used for certain eggs that you want to have a final color of white. You wash the egg in a 1 cup water/2 tablespoons bleach solution until the shell turns white. Then you wash it in cool water until it stops feeling slippery. You will find examples of this type of egg on this website. One example can be found here.
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