Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Finishing up first batch of Ukrainian eggs for 2014

So as you can see, the first batch of eggs for 2014 is nearing completion. The front 6 eggs have been waxed and dipped into each of their respective dye colors (some 3-4 colors including the color of the shell). The back 6 have a few more trips to the dye vats and waxing. These are extra large chicken eggs that one of my co-workers blew out for me- and because of their size, you can fit a lot of detail on them.
In the above picture, you can see the back 6 eggs have added colors and more wax on top of the shell. You can see through some of the blackened wax to what the under colors might be, but nothing really prepares you for the brilliance of color when the wax slides off the egg in the unwaxing process.
I find that if I am doing quite a few eggs at a time, it is quicker to put them in an oven at a low temperature and let the oven do most of the work for you. I use an old cookie sheet, and place a paper egg carton on it, lined with paper towels, It helps absorb the wax as it's melting off. I place it in a cold oven, and heat it to 175 degrees F. Then leave it for 5-10 minutes.
As you can see, the eggs become glossy and shiny. After about 10 minutes, I will open the oven door, put an old towel down on top of the door (eggs are slippery, and I have lost more than one picking them up and dropping them on the glass of the door), and gently wiping away some of the wax with a paper towel. You must be very gentle, or too vigorous scrubbing can take off some of your color.
After doing this approximately two to three times, and running your hand over the eggs to make sure there is no more sticky wax residue left behind, the eggs can be cooled and then sprayed with varnish for a final finish. Just a note- these eggs were all blown before the decorating process ever began. You would not use the oven method for melting the wax on an egg that has not been blown. The result could be an exploding egg. For and egg with the contents intact (which was the traditional way to do Pysanky), you must unwax over the heat of a candle, which is a painstaking but necessary process. This is one of the many reasons this Pysanky artist will blow her eggs out ahead of time!
Worth all the effort? Some who have witnessed the process from start to finish, although appreciating it, would say it is not a craft for them. I love this process! And I never tire of getting excited to create the next batch! The above eggs have not yet been varnished so that a photo could be taken without too many hot spots. Once they have been documented, I spray them several times with an acrylic solvent-based varnish with a UV inhibitor. They cure for a couple of days, and then they are shipped off to galleries or to a new home! Whew! That's a lot of work for a little egg!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ukrainian Egg Demonstration Schedule for 2014

As of today, I have a list of dates for Ukrainian Egg Demonstrations for 2014:

At Frog Hollow Craft Gallery on Church Street in Burlington, Vermont-
Saturday, March 29th, from 12:00-2:00pm     Free and open to the public

At Artists' Mediums Art Supply Store in Williston, Vermont-*
Saturday, April 5th, 1:00-3:00pm (Preregister for space and small sitting fee)

At the Drawing Board Art Supply Store in Montpelier, Vermont-*
Saturday, April 12th, 12:00-2:00pm      Free and open to the public
At Frog Hollow Craft Gallery on Church Street in Burlington, again-
Sunday, April 13th, 12:00-2:00pm      Free and open to the public

*Denotes Ukrainian Egg Art Supplies and Kits available for sale!

The pictures I've included are designs that have been drawn on with pencil, and then waxed over with darkened beeswax. Everything that has been waxed will be white when the wax is melted off. The above design is from the Hutsul region, featuring many bands and geometric shapes.

This design is the traditional "saddle-bag" design with a rose medallion in each quadrant. The fun part is picking out the colors of dyes that the egg will be dipped in, usually from light to dark.

Here are 12 extra large chicken eggs that have been waxed, and then dipped into the first of each of their respective dyes, to be waxed once, twice, or many times more. The more colors you see on an egg, the more trips to the dye baths and back out to be waxed to preserve that color! Whew! A lot of work for one little egg! Hope to see you out at one of the many demonstrations at the many fine establishments that are hosting me this year! Now, back to the egging bench I go!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Recapping 2013....a year of art and eggs

a lot has happened this past year of 2013 and I'm just getting back to writing my blog. I was lucky enough to be asked to paint an exclusive version of one of my original paintings of a peacock entwined with a snake for the International catalog company Uno Alla Volta (which means literally one at a time). This happened about the same time as I was heading into the Easter season of 2013. I was a little nervous as to how it was going to play out. Would I have enough time to fill not only this company's orders, framed and shipped, but also supply my galleries with fresh batches of Ukrainian eggs before the Easter holiday season hit- AND also give demonstrations of how these lovely eggs are made? The answer was yes! I've always been the kind of person who works well with deadlines and problem solving. It doesn't hurt to be a self-motivating person with a strong work ethic as well! Not to mention, super organized! Not to toot my own horn, but I was pretty happy with myself when it all boiled down. Which is good, considering I just sent another painting sample at the request of Uno Alla'll have to stay tuned to see the painting, and in which catalog it will be in...wish me luck!

I had good luck this year at the Champlain Valley Art Exposition in the Blue Ribbon Pavilion. I had done some watercolor experiments with absorbent grounds. I turned out two award winning pieces, both done on full watercolor sheets, 22 x 30. The first was a Jackson Pollock-like abstract watercolor piece done with a string-like substance called "Clear Tar Gel" by Golden acrylics. A bright series of washes were done over this, and won Third place in the Watercolor category. The second piece was an abstract textural watercolor collage. I won first place in the Mixed Media category, and the piece also won Best in Show! No one was more surprised than I was! I guess it pays to try things out of your comfort zone. 

 While the art was on track for this year, there was a sad note, also. This year was filled with challenges and loss. My husband lost his Grandmother this year, and a month later, sadly, his mother. She was a grand lady and a patron of the Arts, and one of my biggest fans. She was always interested in whatever I was doing, and my favorite cheerleader. I will miss her dearly. I was grateful to have my work as a distraction.

 I had
been busy getting orders in before Fall Foliage, and tried out    some new designs. The above photo is a rhea egg. This shows  the initial waxing of an overall paisley design. I did a dozen     goose eggs that can be seen in the background with alternate     paisley designs as well. What fun! And there is really a nice     change of pace when you can do some free form designs, and   not worry too much about being perfect, although if you look   at the egg closely, I did divide it into eight sections and had 8   large paisleys wrap around the egg in opposing directions. The rest of the small "filler" paisleys were more about filling the space in a pleasant random design.                                              

As you can see on the right, I picked fall foliage colors, or a combination that I call Bittersweet. It made for a beautiful presentation. This beauty went to Frog Hollow in Burlington.

As you can see, I loved the color combination and paisley arrangement so much, that I tried it out on an Ostrich egg. The results were pleasing! This beauty can also be found at Frog Hollow.

Here are some more fall eggs, same colors of Bittersweet, but done on brown chicken eggs from my sister's farm in Montgomery, Vermont. What lovely dark, hard shells, and a pleasure to work on!

And my favorites for this year had to be the fish motif done on Aurucana eggs- with a light green cast. I did a little hand-painting and shading with the dyes to give them a more watercolor-like look. What a nice patina and glow they had! These eggs were brought to Art on Main in Bristol, and Frog Hollow in Burlington.

I was very busy taking commissions this year, several of which had to do with football teams, which included the Denver Broncos, shown above, front and back, the Raiders and the Bears. The colorful guy on the right was an elephant egg done with bright Indian colors. Fun!

Last but not least, I made several Ukrainian egg ornaments for the holidays. My favorites were the blue and white ornaments, especially the deer standing regally atop a snowbank with snow falling. I had a great number of admirers for these! I'm thinking I need to repeat this, but with a spring and fall motif and colors. Thanks for letting me catch up with all of you. I hope it won't be a long wait for the next installment, as I will put the word out when I have the Ukrainian Egg Demonstration Schedule for 2014.