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!

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