Thursday, February 27, 2014

Herds of Ukrainian deer running your way!

Here is another dozen I've just finished- a series with a deer motif. We were talking about creating eggs in series, and how fun it is to do a variation on a theme. This particular batch was a little more time consuming than the other three batches due to using colors that are warm and cool, and several colors at that. I think the only colors that weren't on there were purple and black. There was a lot of hand painting of the dyes instead of dipping the whole egg, and then waxing over those areas before you could go onto the next color. A little more tedious, and there was no use of a bleach back method, just really planning ahead for your color sequences and using some chemical relationships between some of the dyes.
This egg has been divided into four sections around the equator of the egg, and the large middle band is sandwiched between two smaller bands. There is a top and bottom medallion. There is a deer in each quarter, one deer looks back, and the next looks forward and it alternates. Everything that is waxed in on the white egg will stay white on the egg when it is unwaxed.
This egg is designed almost like the one above it, but the two small bands above and below the large middle band have a geometric design within the band, which changes the design slightly.
This egg still has the middle band, but instead of just the deer inside the band, there are four diamonds in the four quarters which house the smaller image of a deer standing on an inverted triangular base.
Something different here. The middle band is now on the vertical axis, sandwiched between two smaller bands and the deer is on the front and back medallion within a diamond, on top of an inverted triangular base.
Slightly different again. Vertical middle band, flanked by two smaller bands that will have an eternity leaf motif, deer in a less ornate diamond, but still standing on the inverted triangular base.
A little less formal, and the deer is now on top of a couple of overlapping hills, and the dots represent the petals of flowers (which will be white) and I left the middle open so I can wax a different colored dot for the stamen of the flower. The egg has the same large middle vertical banding flanked by two smaller bands which are filled with geometric designs.
This egg is divided in eighths, and in each compartment, there is a deer on a trapezoidal base, and every other panel has a leafy triangular design. The bottom half of the egg is an upside down mirror image of the top but shifted to be the opposite panel.
Every once in a while, it's fun to do what I call a "Landscape egg". I turn the egg on it's side like a landscape painting. The large middle vertical band now becomes a horizontal band flanked by two smaller bands. The deer is much smaller, of course because the space is compressed. For collectors, it will mean finding the right egg stand made just for a horizontal egg.
Another vertical egg with the deer straddling hills. I've left the flowers off, and thought that it would be fun to do fern fronds (fiddle heads) which are so prevalent in our beautiful Vermont woods in the spring (and also very delicious when they are harvested very young).
Another deer straddling hills with floral elements, but with the addition of two brooks that cut through the hills.
The same design, but the small vertical bands are different, and there are two brooks within the hills, but running the opposite way. Some small flowers are present in the foreground, and there is one more hill in the back that was added.
Since I want the blue to be a straight blue and not a turquoise, I hand paint the light blue dye with an old watercolor brush, and then wax over it. I will also hand paint the sky of some of the landscape eggs and wax over those areas as well. If I had dipped the egg into yellow, and then put the light blue dye over it, the yellow underneath would have given the blue a greenish cast.
Half of the eggs are traditional designs, with less of the landscaping, so I've decided to hand paint the deer in the same blue as the water I've done on the other half of the eggs. This keeps the dozen similar in color so that the collection as a whole is consistent.
After waxing over all of the light blue deer and streams, I dip the whole egg into a primary yellow dye, and wax over anything I want to stay yellow.
The next color is a light green. I wax over everything that I want to stay green.
After waxing on the green egg, I dip it into an Orange Rinse dye. This is a separate container of orange just for "washing" the green away. I have another container of Orange dye that I use only for Orange so the dye stays pristine. There is a special chemical reaction between these two particular dyes that make this happen. It also prepares the egg for any other warm colors like deep oranges or reds without worrying about covering over green and making a muddy color.
Remember that egg with the fern fronds? Well I saved this one out, and dipped it into a Neon Green dye. I then waxed in curly fronds with a fine tip. After that, I then dipped it into the light green dye. I have something planned for some of these landscape type eggs later.
I take a q-tip and scrub the top of each hill back to a lighter green to mimic shading. After its dry, I hand paint a neon green over the bottom hill, a key lime green over the middle hill and a spruce green over the top hill. I wax over each section. I do this for all of the eggs that have a deer with landscape. Then I am ready to go to the orange rinse like I did for the other more traditional deer eggs.
As you can see, the back row is still drying, but the front row that has been dipped in a pumpkin dye after the orange rinse is a nice bright orange. Everything that I want to stay this color I will wax over now.
The last color for this series of eggs is scarlet. They are all dipped after all of the greens and oranges have been waxed.

I do take the extra step of waxing over the last color. This isn't always necessary, most Pysanky artists might tell you, but it has been my experience that when you have light colors next to intense or dark colors and you don't want color to transfer into some of those sections while unwaxing, I find that it rarely happens when it is waxed in it's entirety. It also helps seal and close the pores of the egg. I also will push my kitska into the wax hole plug and that allows any moisture to escape from the interior of the egg before I unwax it. Now, to the oven we go!
The eggs are placed into a paper carton lined with paper towels to catch the excess wax melting off. An old cookie sheet and carton are placed into a cold oven. I heat the oven to 175 degrees F.
It takes 12-20 minutes or so, and I let the oven do most of the work for me. It takes a couple turns of wiping off the rest of the wax with a paper towel until the eggs no longer feel sticky. Let them cool, and they are ready for their glossy protective coat.
What a nice collection this has turned out to be! There are some traditional Ukrainian deer with geometric banding, and then there are some deer with a more landscape type motif, but all share similar elements and color palette which makes the group as a whole pleasing to the eye! I have to say that the deer within the landscapes are probably my new favorites. What about you?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Which came first? The chicken or the egg? How about a Ukrainian egg with a chicken motif?

Let's talk about creating a series of work in Ukrainian eggs. As you can see in the above photo, I have chosen a stylized chicken motif to draw onto my white chicken eggs. I have also decided on a color combination as well. I will do a dozen at a time when I do Pysanky. I do not do 12 of the exact same image, but a variation on a theme. When finished, the grouping as a whole is a cohesive and strong statement as well as being a full collection in itself that is appealing to egg collectors. It is much like doing a series of paintings and standing back and looking at the grouping which carries an idea from start to finish. I am applying what I have learned as an artist to the art of Pysanky. The egg above was divided into eight sections, and the design wraps around one half of the egg, and there is a mirror image on the other half. Whenever I draw in a section, I will turn the egg around and draw the same thing in the same section so it is easier to repeat the design one little bite at a time.

After drawing a general outline on the egg, I proceed to wax over the initial lines and add some detail lines by using a fine tip on my electric kitska.
I had a little room between the two opposing chickens to add a little chick in the space in between each.
On this egg, I divided the egg in half, and have a front and back medallion in which I placed a rooster in the middle of each. There is a vertical band that cuts the egg in half, and a smaller band on either side of the large middle band. I fill those bands with some geometric designs.
This egg is cut in half again, with a vertical middle band and two smaller bands that sandwich it, filled with more geometrics. The medallion has a diamond, and within the diamond, a triangular platform on which the chicken and her chick stand. The addition of the worm is just me being silly.
The chicken is a little more simplified than the first couple because there is less space to do all of the feathers, and the checkerboard triangle was already a little busy.
Same idea as the above egg, cut in half, vertical banding, triangular platform, but a Momma chicken with two chicks. Just by changing a couple of things slightly, you have a different egg design.
This egg was cut in half by a vertical band, and the front and back medallion have a Momma chick nestling her baby in her feathers. She is nestled on the left side of the medallion and curled around the oval. The smaller bands that sandwich the large vertical middle band have an eternity border with curly cues instead of geometrics, giving it a more organic feel.
Same egg, but without the chick, and her feathers have been elongated to follow the curve of the medallion.
Another rooster with different banding around the vertical axis.
This egg has a horizontal band that is divided into quarters with small banding above and below, and now has a medallion on the top and bottom of the egg. This chicken is a silly, comical chicken that makes me giggle!
Another rooster, front and back medallion, vertical banding but with an eternity band of leaves, and a diamond surrounding this shifty looking rooster. If you ask me, he looks a little guilty just coming from the hen house!
And last but not least, this egg was drawn in eighths, and in each of the compartments, a rooster and a chick looking up at a flower within a border. The bottom half of the egg is an upside down offset mirror image of the upper part of the egg.
Now let's finish up the series with the color choices I've made for this grouping. After waxing everything that I want to remain white on the egg, I dip the egg into a primary yellow.
I hand paint the chicken body with a brick dye, let dry and do other side.
After waxing in the brick color of the chicken's body, I hand paint the chicken heads with a lighter reddish brown and wax over those sections.
I then hand paint a pumpkin dye onto the chicken's crest and waddle, then wax in.
Then it's a full dip into a scarlet dye.
Everything that I want to stay scarlet, I will wax those sections over so they stay pristine.
Then it's onto the color black. This will be the final color on some of the eggs, and I will leave the large feathers unwaxed, but wax over the background of the egg to keep it black. I will wax in some of the large feathers so they stay black, and not wax the background of the egg. I have another color in mind and two more steps to go.
What happened to the black, you say? Well, everything that wasn't waxed over on the black egg came off when I put it into a bleach solution. It's called "bleach back", and it bleaches and removes colors back to the natural color of the shell, and if you remember, we started with a white egg. One cup of water and 1 tablespoon of bleach (which you will have to refresh every couple of eggs or so) is the recipe. After it comes out of the solution, it must be rinsed well in cold water until it no longer feels slippery. Then carefully pat it dry.

Here they are. No, we are not finished, but almost there! One more step to go. It is important to let the egg rest for at least a half an hour or more so that the pores of the shell can close back up.
Last color dip in a light turquoise dye, patted dry and let rest. As you can see, some of the eggs have the black background color, and the large feathers are turquoise, and some of the eggs have a turquoise background and the large feathers are black. They are similar, but different.
The eggs are placed in a cold oven in a paper egg carton lined with paper towels to catch most of the wax melting off. The oven is fired up to 175 degrees F.  The excess wax is gently wiped off until the eggs no longer feel sticky.
The last thing to do is to give them their glossy coat of varnish and enjoy them. As you can see, all of the colors are the same, the motif is the same, but they are all slightly different and all have wonderful variations. Hope you have enjoyed this!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Updated Ukrainian Egg Demonstrations for 2014

Ever wonder how Ukrainian eggs are made? How do you go from the above photo to this?
Well, you can watch, ask questions and see when you come to one of the five Ukrainian egg demonstrations that I am giving throughout the Easter season. Here are the dates and locations:

Art on Main Gallery in Bristol, VT  on Saturday, March 22nd from 12:00pm-2pm.
Free and open to the public.

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

Artists' Mediums Art Supply Store*, Williston, VT on Saturday, April 5th from 1:00pm-3:00pm.
Please preregister. Limited space. Small $5.00 sitting fee which enters participants to win an original creation by me!

The Drawing Board Art Supply Store*, Montpelier, VT on Saturday, April 12th, from 12:00pm-2:00pm.
Free and open to the public.

Frog Hollow Craft Gallery, Church Street, Burlington, Vt on Sunday, April 13th, from 12:00pm-2:00pm,
Free and open to the public.

*Ukrainian Egg Decorating Supplies may be found here!