Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Pysanky, or Ukrainian Egg Decorating

The Christmas craft show season has started and I went to my first one this morning with my wife, Kate, and her mother, Vanda, at the Nepean SportsPlex.  The visit was well worth the time with a number of really interesting booths.  One in particular struck me, though - a woman who did paintings and decorated Ukranian eggs, or pysanky  My maternal grandparents emigrated from the Ukraine to Montreal around the time of the first world war and my mother was proud of her Ukrainian roots if not particularly immersed in the culture.  My cousin, Patricia Kaziuka Henry, who sadly passed away a couple of years ago, was a multi-talented artist and crafter who also did pysanky and indeed the pair of eggs she gave my mother many years ago were my first exposure to the art.  Intricate and beautiful, they can't help but fascinate.

I won't go into much detail about the process, except to say it is an iterative wax-resist process where designs are delineated by applying wax to the egg, dipping it in dye, adding more wax, dipping it in dye and so on until you achieve the final result.

Myrosia Humeniuk is the artist I met this morning.  I came across her booth and was very taken with her work.  Her pysanky designs ranged from the traditional to something decidedly more modern and geometric, all of them exceptional.  Myrosia herself was very knowledgeable of the traditions of pysanky and her enthusiasm for her art was infectious.  She was simply a joy to speak with and she rekindled my desire to try my hand at egg-decorating. 

I have included below a couple of pictures of the egg I bought.  Myrosia explained that although the pattern on this egg does not appear to be traditional, it is, in fact, influenced by the designs seen on some ancient archaeological artifacts found in the Ukraine.  I am very happy with my purchase.  If you live in the Ottawa area, I encourage you to visit her booth at the Nepean Sportsplex Annual Christmas Craft Sale, which runs until Sunday, November 11. You can also visit her website to learn more about her work and other shows she will be participating in this year.

I actually like the negative space on the picture below - looks like an arrow.


  1. I have always been fascinated by the process. These are gorgeous!

  2. Hi Geoff - I have been trying to contact Myrosia (regarding a painting of hers) with no luck. There is no phone number on her card or webstie and my email has not been answered. Do you have another way to get in touch with her? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Sadly, I only have the link to her website and the information it contains, which, as you probably know is her hotmail address. You could try Canada 411.