Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wax On...Wax Off

Sharing knowledge is a passion of mine.  Sometimes I worry that certain skills like food preservation are becoming a lost art.  So goes the old craft of Pysanky or Ukrainian Easter egg dying.  I have been creating these fragile egg canvases for about 28 years; and teaching the craft for about 25 years.

It all began with a dear friend named Mary.  She would host all day Pysanky open houses every Good Friday and the Saturday before Easter.  She would invite the most interesting mix of people to come together and talk, laugh, and nibble on delicacies I had never experienced until then.

After many years, she encouraged me to take on the event; and handing over her vast bin of supplies, I was dubbed the new heir apparent.  Each year I hosted an open house, teaching (and learning with) an ever eager group of egg artists.  Actually, almost everyone that came had never attempted this elaborate style of wax resist dying.  Most only ever were exposed to Paas color tablets mixed with vinegar to create watery pastel solid colors on their hard boiled eggs.

Pysanky is very different.  In the first place we work with raw eggs.  Yes, you read that correctly...RAW.  Also, the pigments used are intense colors of vermillion, pumpkin, scarlet, and black, to name a very few.  We use open candles and heated beeswax in a tiny funnel shaped tool on a handle called a kistka.

Eventually my open houses expanded to teaching classes at the Old Mill Museum, local libraries, and private parties hosted in someone's home.  This year, I will be teaching a class at the Two Twelve Art Center in Saline.  This class will be on Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 9:00 a.m. to noon.

It's exciting to imagine what kind of creations emerge from this particular class.  I'm anticipating gorgeous creations from the artists I expect will be attending.  As I said earlier, most people that I've previously taught aren't artists and are amazed by what they create by the end of the class.  But I'm also a bit nervous.  After all, I usually teach from a brochure the most basic egg design.  I expect all my past teaching experiences will be out the window with this class.  As an artist myself, I hate being reined in by rules or step by step instructions.  And I promise, I love the idea of letting a class loose with creativity.  It's just the uncertainty and the unknown which have me excited and a bit frightened at the same time! 

Today Holly and I set up displays at Saline Library to promote the class and to delight the eyes with these fragile works of art.