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?


  1. All of your eggs are absolutely gorgeous. I am amazed that you can work on a dozen at a time. Beautiful!

    1. Thanks, Mary! Once you decide on a design and figure how to implement it, it is easy to make several variations of it by changing either one or a couple of it's elements. Having a color combination that you stick to makes it much quicker to do 12 than one of a kind, especially if you are building an inventory. When one is in the dye, you're waxing one, take the one out of the dye, put the next one in that you've been working on and start waxing the next- assembly line! Good luck in your egging endeavors!