As a kid, I used to marvel at the intricate patterns on the Pysanky eggs that my parents made together in the seventies and had carefully displayed in our china cabinet. Since then, I've made many of the eggs with my family, and it's a precise, particular, and rewarding craft.
The basic idea behind Pysanky, or Ukrainian Easter eggs, is like that of batik — you add heated beeswax to the areas you don't want to dye and don't add it to where you do want to add color. Then you dip the eggs in dye and repeat the process as many times as you need for your design (working from light to darker color dyes).
The only special tool you need is a kistka, a stylus that you'll use to melt the beeswax and apply it to the egg. One special, early step includes tapping tiny holes in the top and bottom of your egg and blowing into one end to evacuate the white and yolk. (As a kid, I was simultaneously amused and grossed out by this step.)
This craft is inexpensive — it costs more in patience and time than anything else. It's also interesting at any age. For my family, it's fun to look back and see those impressive ones my parents made in their 20s, the imperfect ones I made as a tween, and the ones I made with friends just two years ago.
For more tips and the tricks of mastering intricate designs, check out LearnPysanky.com.
Images: 1. Sofia Zielyk 2. Tenney.org 3. Daria Bishop 4. The Hungarian Girl 5. Kim Rinehimer