Traveller stories: painting Pysanka eggs in Ukraine
To really get to know a country you need to meet its people. The tuk tuk driver who takes you to your destination, the bartender who shares his local tips, or the babushka who sells sweets on a Moscow street corner. You will come across so many wonderful local characters, like this very talented young woman in Kolomiya…
On Intrepid’s tours of Ukraine we have a hidden highlight for lovers of local art. You’ve probably heard of Faberzhe eggs, made more than 100 years ago by famous jewellery master Karl Faberzhe (known to many as Febergé). Well, the Slavic tradition of egg painting is still alive today, albeit in a more modest form than the richly decorated and priceless Faberzhe eggs. Fortunately the skills have been passed down through generations and if you know where to look you can find these fine artists in unexpected places.
Painted eggs can be admired amongst the other masterpieces of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and in Moscow Faberzhe eggs are on display in the Kremlin. But more intriguing is being in Kolomiya, a charming small town in Ukraine, where you can enjoy a fine egg painting lesson from a talented young local artist.
Julia has just started studying art in Warsaw, Poland. She already has 4 years of practice in egg painting and was taught this traditional technique by her mother. Julia works in the oldest and most difficult method of wax painting.
To start the procedure you need a normal rough egg and special painting pen, that consists of a wooden stick with a tiny nail at the end. You also need the device to heat the wax, which is this case is a little can with wax, sitting atop a lamp on the wooden desk.
You take an egg in one hand, pen in the other, then dip the pen in wax and draw whatever you wish to stay white when you’re finished.
Next step, you plunge the egg into the coloured liquid. Then you paint with the wax again. This time the surface covered with wax will stay the colour you just used. This stage is repeated as you continue your design. Normally four colours are applied and after the egg is dried you can remove the wax layers.
At the end our session we all admired our results. They were better than expected, but Julia’s egg was astonishing! As novices we had our challenges, such as the wax drying before completing the pattern or trying to paint on a curved surface, but it was great to be able to give it a go and appreciate the art form. This is the type of thing you could try at home, but taking part in the egg painting lesson gave us a memorable insight into age-old Ukraine traditions and it was wonderful to spend time with Julia and learn more about growing up in Kolomiya.”
Want to give egg painting a try? Check out our small group adventures in Ukraine.
Feature image c/o 19th, Flickr