E is for Easter: DIY Polish Egg Decorating
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Prior to this spring, I don’t believe that I ever paid much attention to Polish Easter eggs or have ever heard the term “pisanki”. But earlier this month, my mom took a class on polish egg decorating and shared her experience with me. I am mesmerized by this beautiful, intricate practice that has been a part of Easter in Poland for thousands of years. I cannot wait to tell you more about this art form and to show you some simple ways to start creating your own Pisanki at home. Are you ready to join me on this journey? Here we go:
For centuries, Polish families have shared a single hard-boiled, blessed egg as part of their traditional Easter breakfast. This special egg is cut into enough pieces for all members of the family and their guests to share with one piece reserved to represent the presence of Christ. This tradition symbolizes the sharing of Christ with everyone.
Throughout Poland, there are many unique styles and practices of egg decorating. The one I am sharing today is called “pisanki” which originates from people living along the banks of the Wisla river. The polish word “pisac” means to write and the practice of creating “pisanki” is to write or sign on the egg with wax. The level of detail and artistry involved in making some of these gorgeous eggs is astonishing. Each pattern or motif used has a deep symbolic meaning. For example, a sun represents good luck, flowers represents affection and beauty, a fish represents sacrifice and hearts represent love. Doing a quick search online will help you to find more information and pictures of symbols and motifs to be used to create your “pisanki”. I found the link below fascinating and very helpful. It discusses 8 different techniques used to decorate eggs in Poland. The pictures of these decorated eggs are absolutely incredible. My mom and I are clearly amateurs and need a lot of work on our technique, but we both thoroughly enjoyed trying out this practice and making some cool eggs of our own.
Eggs – hard boiled and cooled to room temperature
Parafin wax, beeswax or old candle pieces
Heat safe containers – we used small tin foil pans
Heat source to keep the wax melted – we used an electric skillet covered with tin foil
Crayon piece (to add color to the wax)
Pencil with sturdy eraser
Straight pin with a small metal head
Egg dye – prepared, commercial kit or natural ingredients
Cooking oil (optional)
Hard-boil your eggs and allow them to cool to room temperature.
Prepare your egg dye and gather your materials.
Melt the wax in a heat safe container until completely liquefied. Add a piece of crayon to add color to the wax. This makes it easier to see where you have applied wax to your egg. We kept our containers of wax in an electric skillet covered in foil to keep the wax melted as we worked on our eggs.
Gently push your straight pin into the eraser end of your pencil to create your “writing tool”.
Dip your pin into the melted wax and begin to draw your design onto your egg with quick, short strokes. I found that this practice became easier over time as I developed a small bead of wax on the end of my pin. Remember that the wax will preserve the current color of the egg and the rest of the egg surface will be dyed. If you start with a white egg, your initial markings will be white.
When your design is complete, submerge the egg into the egg dye and let the color develop to your desired shade. Remove the egg from the dye and gently dry off the surface.
Repeat the process by adding additional patterns to your egg with wax as desired. The second round of wax will be preserving the design in the color you just dyed your egg. It took me awhile to understand how my patterns and colors would look.
If you choose to dye the egg multiple times, it works best to start with the lightest color of dye and work up toward the darker shades last.
Once you are satisfied with the design of your egg and you are done with the dye, it is time to remove the wax. Hold the egg above a heat source, such as a lit candle, to soften the wax. It can then be rubbed away with your fingernail or a soft cloth or paper towel. Take care not to get the egg to close to the flame, as it will scorch (we learned this the hard way!).
When all the wax is removed, you can gently rub the finished egg with a drop or two of vegetable oil for added shine and to make the colors pop out. This step is optional. Rubbing the wax off gives the egg a bit of sheen all on its own.
That’s all there is to DIY Polish egg decorating. You are now ready to sit back and admire, display or share your gorgeous “pisanki”.
I hope you have learned something today about the fascinating practice of Polish egg decorating. Have you ever made your own Pisanki? Do you know of a different technique? I would love to hear from you in the comments. Even if you don’t want to tackle this project yourself, I encourage you to visit the link I shared above to enjoy the amazing artistry of traditional Polish egg decorating. They really are incredible! Wishing you a very Happy Easter from our family to yours! Xoxo, -Cristina
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