A workshop is held to teach the ancient batik method of wax resist known as pysanky to make Ukrainian Easter eggs. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun video)
Northeast Baltimore resident Shanika Baylor was eager to spend a “crafty day” with her 11-year-old daughter, Kamyiah Gray.
Baylor wanted to tap into the artistic predilection of Kamyiah while “spending mom and daughter time” together.
“Good job,” Baylor said as she held up Kamyiah’s work for the day — a black egg adorned with multicolored religious symbols.
The 20 attendees at the morning session of “Pysanky: Ukrainian Egg Dyeing workshop” were able to impart their own flair to an ancient custom that has been practiced in Europe for more than 2,000 years.
Their teacher, Halyna Mudryj, a Baltimore-based Ukrainian artist, has been making the eggs for more than 50 years. The MICA graduate learned the art from her mother when she was 4.
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“They [eggs] have a huge history,” explained Mudryj, who has been teaching the class at the Creative Alliance for the past 10 years. On Sunday, she taught a morning and afternoon class. “And I’d like people to know this. And what better way than through art?”
Before Baylor, Kamyiah and the other attendees decorated their own eggs, Mudryj first demonstrated the proper way to adorn them.
The process involved dipping the eggs in jewel tone-colored vinegar dyes and then using a stylus to draw designs with hot beeswax onto the shell of the egg. She made it look effortless. Within 15 minutes, she was putting the finishing touches on her own masterpiece: a black egg with a red, yellow, green and orange flower.
“No two eggs are ever exactly alike,” she explained to the class. “Each egg has its own personality.”
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Mudryj also took the time to explain the origins of the eggs, which pre-dated the forming of Christianity. She said that the eggs were originally made to celebrate the “Rites of Spring.” The decorated eggs were offered up to pagan gods. As time went on and Christianity grew, the pagan symbols that once decorated the eggs were replaced by Christian symbols. Mudryj also explained that each color represents something. For example, orange represents happiness, black represents remembrance, and red represents love.
“At least next time it will be better,” she said as she admired her creation, which was adorned with symbols that she said were influenced by Jesus. “I’ll do it again because I love art and I like to make mistakes and turn it into something amazing.”