KEENE – A myriad of ways to help Ukrainians affected by the Russian incursion have surfaced, including creating and auctioning Pysanky Easter eggs.
Several class sessions, each consisting of about a dozen attendees who each donated $50, were held at Cedar Run Bakery & Market in Keene, to learn the basics of turning ordinary egg objects into artwork. of colorful art curated by Sue and CJ Young of Young’s Studio & Gallery at Jay.
“We are saving the world one egg at a time”, said Sue.
The money is intended for the World Central Kitchen (WCK) which has been set up at a 24-hour pedestrian border crossing in southern Poland. WCK is expanding its efforts to serve millions of meals to people across the region in Romania, Moldova and Hungary. WCK also partners with restaurants in Ukraine to provide hot meals to anyone in need.
“I felt helpless watching the news about Ukraine. Sue showed me some Pysansky eggs several years ago and I thought it would be helpful to have some fundraising to make them,” said Kristy Farrell, owner of Cedar Run. “I was thrilled that Sue was willing to help. It’s more than people making art for a living. It’s made by people who care.
By the end of the workshops at Cedar Run, over $2,800 had been raised. “I am delighted and with tears in my eyes to live here where the people are so caring”, added Farrell.
One of the participants, Abigail Smith, a student at Keene Central School, expressed her thoughts. “I feel helpless watching people suffer and wanted to help in any way I could and this is a great way to do that.”
The Pysanky Egg Tradition
According to a 2018 New York Times report, eggs are “a sign of life in Ukrainian culture.”
They are usually decorated in spring and were once considered a talisman against evil, the article notes.
“Only women and young girls used to decorate them, hidden from the eyes of passers-by, lest someone cast a bad spell on the egg and its owner”, according to the article.
Some Ukrainian legends say the fate of the world depends on Pysanky and as long as the tradition of decorating eggs continues, the world will exist, according to a Washington Post report.
According to the website of the Museum of Ukraine in New York, the egg dyes used to decorate the pysanky also had symbolic meaning. Red symbolized the sun, life, joy; yellow represented wealth and fertility; green was the symbol of spring and plant life.
“In the not-too-distant past, artisans prepared their own dyes, using natural products such as oak or ash bark, sour apple twigs, saffron, or willow leaves.” says the website.
The museum’s website notes that the symbolic ornamentation of the pysanka consists of geometric patterns, with some animal and plant elements.
“The most important motif is the stylized symbol of the sun, which is represented by a broken cross, a swastika (an ancient Sanskrit symbol), a triangle, an eight-pointed rosette or a star”, the website reads. “Other popular motifs are endless lines, stylized flowers, leaves, the tree of life and certain animal figures such as horses, deer and birds. The influence of Christianity introduced elements such as crosses, churches and fish.
According to travel blog Have German Will Travel, large families would make 60 eggs or more by Maundy Thursday.
“The more daughters a family had, the more pysanky it produced”, according to the blog. “The eggs were then brought to the church on Easter Sunday to be blessed, after which they were distributed.”
Today, the art of Pysanky is still a family tradition in Ukraine and around the world. Similar egg decorating techniques are practiced in other Eastern European countries, where it is often a deep-rooted family tradition.
Before decorating the egg, devout Ukrainian women make the sign of the cross and whisper, “God help me.”
Creation of a Pysanky
The design is lightly drawn on a clean egg with a pencil. The wax is then applied with a kistka tool which consists of a small metal reservoir with a fine tip/opening on a wooden or plastic handle. Wax is poured into the reservoir, heated, and then this stylus is used to write with wax on the shell of an egg.
The egg is placed in a succession of dyes starting with the lightest colors. After each dye has dried, another design is drawn with wax. After the final dyeing, the egg is held near a heat source such as a candle while the melted wax is wiped away.
Several light coats of clear acrylic or varnish are applied for protection. Small holes are made at opposite ends of the egg to blow out the contents. A bracket can be attached for hanging purposes.
Email Alvin Reiner at: [email protected]