Goshen News, Goshen, IN

March 17, 2013

Church hosts class on Ukrainian egg decorating


— GOSHEN — Seven-year-old Adrian Gaffer carefully wiped the wax off his Pysanky egg.

He was taking part in the annual Pysanky (Easter eggs) workshop with his grandma, Jean Gaffer, at Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Goshen Saturday.

It was the third year the pair has participated, Jean said.

“He reminded me it was time to do it again. I saw it one time in the paper and thought it’d be a fun thing to do,” Jean said. “We just enjoy our time — grandma and grandson time — together. It’s not hard.”

Pysanky are made using a wax-resistant dye technique, in which molten wax is applied to a raw egg with a kistka wax pen and then dipped in successively darker hues of dye, said Lydia Karpenko, a Ukrainian Easter egg instructor.

“At the end, the wax is taken off and the pattern is revealed,” Karpenko said. “It’s two hours of sheer pleasure and they go home with a unique piece of art.”

The art of making Pysanky is an ancient tradition started in the Ukraine before Christian times.

After Christianity spread to the Ukraine, the art form became connected with Easter, which according to church officials, is call Pysanky in the Orthodox tradition, Karpenko added.

“I was born in the Ukraine and came here when I was 10,” she said. “I’m trying to pass on the traditions of my ancestors. I love watching the children’s faces. It (the egg) becomes so ugly with the wax on and then the wax comes off and it becomes so beautiful. It’s like the ugly duckling.”

The participants can use printed patterns or look at pattern books for ideas, or use their own creativity, like the grandma and grandson.

“We’re not decorators or drawers, we just do our own thing,” Jean said.

And Adrian nodded his head in agreement.

“The best thing is making the designs,” Adrian said, smiling.

Eight-year-old Eli Martin created two Easter eggs.

He used a design from a book to make a black and red Pysanky.

“I made my own design,” Eli said, holding up a yellow and green egg.

Karpenko said they set up for 30 participants and had 36 individuals show up. We had to turn some people away, she added.

 Lydia Martin helped her 5-year-old daughter, Anja Martin, guide the kistka around the design on her egg.

“This is our first time and I think we’ll do it again next year,” Martin said.