I'm frequently asked how I started writing eggs. My heritage is Polish and Lithuanian so I was born into the custom. I began writing eggs at three. The first eggs were written with a cotton swab dipped in melted wax. My parents did the style of drop-pull where colored wax was written on a dyed egg. These beautiful eggs use the simplest of tools: a pin pushed into the eraser of a pencil.
A college friend of my mother's who is Ukrainian insisted that they try the Ukrainian method of writing eggs because it was “better”. Well, my parents loved the detailed designs and made the switch. I grew up making Ukrainian pysanky instead of Polish pisanki.
Either way, it was always exciting to have Ash Wednesday come because that meant that the egg writing equipment would be unpacked. Every night after dinner, chores and homework, pysanky would be made until it was time for bed. Eggs would be dropped and broken, tears shed, designs restarted, wax blobs at the worst possible moment, more tears. Each Lenten season always ended in the joy of sharing gifts of pysanky with friends and family, struggles forgotten.
I became entranced and fascinated with the storytelling and legends associated with the eggs. We went to museums frequently and I found the Islamic and Eastern sections calling me with the geometric patterns, repetition, movement of line and shape, gorgeous tapestries filled with woven stories lines and the glorious rich color palette so similar to the eggs I grew up making.
Since this was before the internet and the ease of Google, books and trips to natural history and fine art museums filled my mind with an appreciation for the ability of man to tell a visual story with line and dot that could be translated across time. People groups in the Pacific Northwest have patterns that are remarkably similar to Neolithic patterns on Trypyllian pottery which is in what is now Ukraine. The colors are different but the curvilinear designs are the same.
My personal aesthetic is describing the beauty of nature through line and dot using the language of geometry. When I was in college working on my BFA in Studio Art, I struggled with my personal identity as an egg artist. I'm not sure why now. I love the feel of shells, how different they are, the science of them, how they work with different media, the sound tools make on them. Only paper is as lovely to me as an egg shell. And my work on paper is really just a pysanka that is flat!
I teach private lessons to children and adults in writing pysanky, drawing, painting, sculpture and general art. I can be found at area art centers and teaching Young Rembrandts, an after school drawing program.
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