Monday, April 4, 2011

Ukranian Easter Eggs and a Featured Etsy Artist

In this blog I am going to talk a little bit about my Step-Grandmother and her Ukranian Easter Egg. Plus an interview with a real Ukranian Pysanky Egg Artist. But first, let me show you my Step-Grandmother's Ukranian Egg I inherited from her. I was always intrigued by my step-grandmother's egg collection, as you see, I ended up with the prettiest one. The other grandchildren got the other eggs. But mine sits in its royal spot in the china cabinet along with her tea-cups and an array of other antiques. That is probably another blog story in the future.

Grams held on to alot of her traditions, especially when it came to cooking. I will always remember the big dinners she made for all the family. A big platter of Kubasa, shaved horsradish and eggs. Big bowls of houbah (translation=mushroom gravey [wild mushrooms from the woods]). Pedihare (potatoe and sourkraut dumplings) meat, vegies and desserts galore. And her wonderful Babka (raisin egg bread that she baked in coffee cans) There was always enough food to feed an army and we never went home empty handed. Those were the days of good eaten!!!!!!And Good Food!!!!!

Now I would like to introduce you to Gail, a Ukranian Egg Artist, which I have met on Etsy. Because I like Ukranian Eggs and being it is Easter, one day I typed in Ukranian Eggs and her store came up. I asked her if she would like to be interviewed in my blog and she said yes. So, here we go.............first of all let me start by showing you some of her work. This is probably my favorite egg.......I like purple.

Now on to my interview with Gail.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started on Etsy? I am the proud Mom of three young men, two of whom serve in the United States Navy, and one who is working toward a college degree. I have been married to the same wonderful man for 34 years. We have a spoiled labradoodle named Toby who is the best dog we have ever had, hands down...he is a joy. I work full time as the supervisor of Microbiology at an 850 bed hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Although I enjoy my challenging job, my passion is my artwork. And, I am fairly new to Etsy, but I am finding it a wonderful experience. I had been selling on eBay for years, but the fees were getting too outrageous…so I was looking for another way to market my wares. My niece, who has a degree in marketing, said to me one day, “You need to be on Facebook, and Etsy, and link them.” Truer words have never been spoken. So, I got on Facebook and set up an account and then onto Etsy and surprise! It works! I got my first order after a couple of days on Etsy.

2. When and how did you become interested in making Pysanky eggs?
I am a home grown pysanky maker! I am Ukrainian by heritage. My grandmother and grandfather were both Ukrainian and immigrated to the United States in the early 1900’s. Grandma came from Ternopil and Grandpa from Lviv. When they met each other here in the states, my grandmother was saddened by the lack of tools available to create pysanky. She was using a wooden stick dipped in melted beeswax and dipping it on eggs to create very basic patterns. She made her own dyes from vegetables, flowers, and ash. Then grandpa got involved and whittled some small twigs into handles for kistka. He added a small metal tube to the end and tied it all together with twine and tar. Grandma was in business! She created her own pysanky and, of course, taught my mother. I would watch them create pysanky at Easter, enthralled at a young age. But then, I was only allowed to watch. Finally, at about 8 years old, they perched me on a stool next to the melted pot of beeswax and handed me an egg and my first homemade kistka. I don’t remember much about that first pattern other than I was caught; hook, line and sinker. Seeing my attraction, my mom began purchasing products from Surma in New York and then from the Ukrainian Gift Shop in Minnesota. In those days, we only made eggs during Lent, so I would wait anxiously after Christmas for the beginning of Lent. To this day, Lent, which is usually everyone’s least favorite time of the Christian calendar is my absolute favorite time of the year, because it reminds me of the early days when I would enjoy pysanka making.

3. What is your inspiration for each egg and where do you get the ideas?
I look at a lot of traditional patterns and am inspired by good geometric design. I love the way angles and squares can fit together to make stars…I probably would like quilt making as well. But I am also inspired by fabric, mosaics, Persian rugs, oriental plates, and, of course, quilts! Colors are a big factor in my work and because of the “batik” way pysanky are made, color can be a challenge. Because the “canvas” is a “natural product” (I guess the chickens would laugh at that one) it doesn’t always conform to your wishes. Colors don’t always dye the color you want. I have learned to be flexible. When I was younger, if the egg didn’t look like I thought it should look, I looked at it as a failure. I never sold them because they were not perfect (in my mind’s eye, anyway). Nowadays, I see the beauty in those eggs. Now, if something isn’t coming out the way I had planned it, well…all the better! Some of the best work I have done is because nature took the reins out of my hands. I am so glad I kept all those “ruined” eggs!

4. How many hours do you spend on each egg?
I can do a simple egg in ½ hour. An ostrich egg can take up to 20 hours.

5. How did you feel when you sold your first egg on Etsy?
Like a million bucks. To think that someone would pay real money for something I created…I am humbled, honored, and grateful. And....I am an artist. Wow. How cool is that?

To be continued............. Check out Gail's Etsy store at:

Have a great day



Diane ~ said...

What a great feature! I love Ukranian Easter eggs,and enjoyed reading about Gails process. At one time I had a small collection, but sadly due to a move, all my eggs were lost, reading your post makes me want to start another collection!

cards4ubylouise and other treasures said...

Thanks sure to check our Gails eggs, she has some beauti's!


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