Sheeptastic Egg

sheep egg

Today I have an egg I did a while back with the intention of gifting it to my LYS owner, but alas, it was not meant to be. It just turned out with too many mistakes. I ended up with some dye leakage underneath the wax for some reason – you can see it in the middle of the photo above. That pattern was supposed to mimic the look of a knitted fabric, but something happened somewhere along the way. Maybe my wax application hadn’t been thick enough (although my grandmother is able to use the thinnest lines I’ve ever seen and they stick through several dye baths), or… well, actually I don’t know. I have absolutely no idea why that could have happened.

Sometimes this art is maddening.

But anyway, it ended up being some pretty good practice for a variety of designs, and a great test of some new ones I’d never used. I’m not 100% pleased with how the faux-knit design worked, and I’m also not crazy about the way the sheep came out – it was one of those motifs that actually looked 1000x better in the wax. But there are some great things about this egg too. Among the things I’m pleased with: the evenness of the wave motif, the sectioning, and the bottom as a whole.

Sheep egg bottom

Hopefully I’ll have some new eggs to share soon and can stop showing off all this old work – working on pysanky has generated some unique problems now that I’m in a non-airconditioned top floor apartment. So here’s hoping I figure out how to combat them so that I don’t have to wait for the weather to cool down… because that’s going to be a while!

Gridtastic Egg

Grid Egg front

Another pysanka for you today. I’m not so pleased with the front of this one – it’s a little boring. I had some blobbing and sort of ran out of ideas about how to cover it up because I was concentrating so hard on the plan I had for the long band around the egg. As for that, I like the idea and think it came out alright, but next time I try it I’m definitely going to implement it differently – it turned into a huge pain in the ass, and I didn’t quite keep track of where I was putting what color like I should have. I’d also love to figure out how to avoid making the grid in white first. I was originally going for a stained glass sort of effect, but the white kind of ruins that.

Oh well, live and learn!

Grid Egg side

Pysanka Wednesday

vine egg front 2013

Today I have an egg that I actually made last year, but never got around to sharing anywhere. Last year I didn’t really make enough eggs for my lines to fully even out, so a lot of the line work is a little wobbly and uneven – you can really see it in the close-up. Overall though, I’m fond of the design. Not too busy, but also not too simple. I also really like how the vine around the egg came out. The orange band through the middle of the vine was actually a mistake, but I ended up really liking it. Now if only my lines had been a little more steady… I may have to give this design another shot!

side vine egg 2013

Pysanky Friday

varnishing

I finally got around to varnishing those pysanky I teased on instagram a ways back, and so today I have one of them to share with you in detail. I was still getting my sea-legs back on this batch, so you’ll notice that my lines aren’t all terribly straight. This particular egg (which I’m calling the “Big Vine” Egg) was actually the result of a catastrophic mistake – those massive vines on the side were NOT supposed to be that big. But that’s what happens when you’re not being attentive and get a big blorp of wax smack dab in the center of your egg.

Big Vine Egg

The top and bottom of this one came out much better than the middle – I’m a big fan of the star motif for the bottom of eggs. Not my favorite of the batch, but not the worst either. But I’ll save the rest for another day! Happy Friday!

big vine egg bottom

(Just a note on size – these are regular large chicken eggs – the photos are just big to show detail)

What I’ve Been…

turtle egg
An egg of mine from a few years ago

…planning: Pysanky designs. The easter season is over, yes, but I plan to keep making them year-round this year. I really need to start honing my skills and getting creative if I ever plan on using this to drum up some extra income.

…working on: grading. And more grading. It’s crunch time, and of course, as I always do, I ended up planning tests and papers too close to one another. Every single semester I say to myself, “I’ll plan this out better next semester…” And I try – I really do try – but no matter what, somehow it never works out. Right now I’m plodding my way through over a hundred 5-7 page historical analysis papers.

Norwegian hardanger fiddle

…listening to: a lot of folk music. Between Easter – which always leaves me a little more finely tuned into my Ukrainian/Russian ethnic heritage – and a quick Frozen-inspired research burst into Norwegian culture, I’ve been listening to folk music consistently for the last few weeks on Spotify. I think I’m just a sucker for a good folksy fiddle and a devastatingly deep slavic baritone.

250px-SoulSilver_EN_boxart

…playing: Pokemon SoulSilver – and honestly, this is to be blamed as much as being busy for the quietness around here. I haven’t really played one of these games since my original Gameboy pocket became obsolete, and forgot how addicting these games can be. Apparently even at age 26.

…reading: STILL technically reading First into Nagasaki… all the grading has put personal reading pretty much completely on hold. Although I really could be using the time I’m spending on the DS on this… but let’s not talk about that.

…feeling: very trodden on. It hits every semester around this time – it’s one of the emotional downsides of being an adjunct. Particularly around bill paying time, it gets very very hard to justify how hard I work and how MUCH I work when I end up with so very little to show for it. It will pass – it always does. But when I’m in the thick of a one of these spells, it can be really demoralizing. And I must admit that the longer I do this, the harder and harder it gets to bounce back. But I will. I must.

[Hardanger fiddle photo from the National Music Museum; Pokemon SoulSilver image from Bulbapedia – clicking on the either image will take you to the original source]

Behind the Scenes

Quick Pysanky Peak

Sorry it’s been a bit quiet here; it’s been a bit crazy this past week thanks to the holiday, high school musical season (always a busy time for freelance musicians), and crunch time at school. But I promise there’s a lot going on behind the scenes, and we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled posts at the very least by Friday.

Until then, here’s a quick peak at the pysanky I’ve been working on recently. I have a bunch finished and ready to share here a little bit later!

Breaking out the Pysanky Stuff

Set up
With Christmas and New Years over, we have settled into the bleak, grey, and multicolor lightless bit of winter here in the northeast. It’s been cold (like, below zero windchill and sometimes the temp itself cold), and dark, and honestly it can get depressing without the distraction of the Christmas lights. So to keep some color in my life for the next few months, I’m skipping ahead to the next holiday a bit early, and starting on my pysanky already.

What are pysanky? They’re Ukrainian Easter Eggs, made using a resist-dye method that’s similar to batik, and they look something like this:
Last year's eggs details

These are some of my eggs from last year. None of them are terribly traditional, nor did I do enough before life hit the fan last year for my lines and shapes to even out and get terribly precise, so I guess these aren’t the greatest examples. But, once my grandmother – a 70+ year pysanky veteran (family lore says that her eggs were even on display in the Smithsonian as the example of the craft for a while back when my mom was a teen… can’t seem to get outright confirmation from her on this, but she’s never been one to toot her own horn) – starts hers, I’ll be able to show you true traditional pysanky.

Any fellow Ukrainians out there still practicing this craft? Do you have any traditional crafts yourself?

(full photo disclosure: the top egg in the middle row was actually made by the boyfriend… his second pysanky ever!)