Easter is coming up on us pretty fast and so is the urge to do strange and unhealthy to eggs. Rather than eating them, which is just so yesterday, we dye them, hide them under things, and just generally make a mockery of them.
Further proof there is no justice for eggs: the week after Easter is National Egg Salad Week and May is National Egg Month. Sucks to be an egg.
Pysanky, the Ukranian art of wax resist eggs, is one such slightly unhealthy thing. But whether it is more unhealthy for eggs or the practitioner of this gentle egg-y art, remains to be seen.
A bunch of us gathered at JC’s house recently to try this pysanky-thing out. Some of us went home addicts and some of us went home with really cool looking eggs that our mother dropped on the floor a week or two later, eulogizing them only with, “Oops! How did that get there?”
Some of our mothers just don’t understand that pysanky eggs are like models- they take hours to decorate and they are fragile. Very fragile.
To begin with, before we even set foot in her house Jacinda prepared the eggs- poking a small hole in the ends of each and blowing the contents out. I would not be surprised if this were the origin of the phrase “Blow it out your…” Then she put together some amazing appetizers because, you know, it’s hard to decorate eggs when you’re hungry.
Anyway, the first step, after poring through books and feeling artistically challenged after looking at the eggs on the table that were already done, was to pick a design and draw it on the egg in pencil.
Side note: I find it helpful to totally ignore people who whine and moan about not being artistic because they are actually VERY artistic (Kara) and will create gorgeous things (Pam) that will blow you out of the water (Leslie).
Followed by either going over the design with wax or diving right into the dye bath. Well, not literally, as that would be messy.
The fun part is using this little bugger- it’s called a “kistka”, although I called it a few bad words over the course of the evening. The cup part holds melted wax that theoretically is supposed to flow from the nib, like using an ink pen.
I say “theoretically” because there was clumpage. The places covered by the wax don’t receive dye, so if your artistic vision is as rigid as some (ahem.), it’s crucial to stay within the lines you’ve drawn. Or at least near them.
So then there’s more waxing and dyeing. There’s an order to the colors too. Darned if I can remember it, but it’s something like yellow, orange, red, blue, purple and I don’t recall. Really.
All the dyeing is followed by eating, and of course some, “This is taking forever and I could really use another cocktail!” And don’t forget the, “Holy $@&%$! It’s CLUMPING AGAIN! What the $#$@&!*?” Followed of course by, “Show me the picture again, wouldja?” and “That’s pretty good don’t you think? Hey, this is fun!”
And then comes the fun part- melting the wax off to reveal the design you’ve been so careful to build up, layer by dyed layer. You do this by holding the egg close to a candle flame, remembering to melt of the bits of wax you put over the holes so your egg wouldn’t fill with dye.
Wow. Not bad. I wish this one was mine.
Of course then you magically forget the arduousness of the whole process and when anyone asks how long it took and how much trouble it was, you say “It was easy and it was so much fun!” And you order your own kit.
Then after all this it gets unceremoniously dropped? Yikes.
Here’s a fritatta recipe in case your egg goes splat before it’s time.