new? start here
supplies you'll need
the basic steps
help & more info
symbol & color meanings
where do I...?
find egg designs
list my workshop
pysanky coloring pages
original dye recipes
legends & traditions
of further interest
pysanky gift ideas
ann's gift shop
updated APR 20 2014
Getting Started in Pysanky
Pysanky is the ancient Eastern European art of egg decorating, of which the Ukrainian version is
arguably most famous (and is covered in this website). The name comes from the verb to write, as you use
a stylus (called a kistka) to write with wax on the egg shell. The process is similar to batik.
You start with the lightest color, usually white.
Everything that you want to remain white, you cover with wax, using the kistka.
Then, you dye the egg, usually yellow. Wherever there is wax, the yellow dye will not be able to
penetrate. This preserves the white part of the design under the wax. On your yellow egg, you
mark with wax all the parts of the design that you want to remain yellow. Then dye it in the next dye bath,
going in progressively darker colors, and add more wax.
In the end, you will have an egg with a great deal of wax on it -
if black is your finishing color, you will end up with a virtually black egg.
Then, using the side of a candle flame, you melt away the wax, revealing the colors that
were protected underneath. This results in a brilliantly colored and often very intricately designed egg,
sure to bring much joy to both the artist/creator and the recipient!
Gather Your Supplies
Check out my supplies you'll need page for a full list of what you'll need: from common things like leftover newspapers, to specialty
items like the kistka (the stylus used to write the wax on the egg). Specialty items are marked with a
* for easy reference. To purchase them, check out
my huge list of where to buy supplies. Go in person, or order online.
I recommend beginners purchase the correct supplies to begin with,
so you can get the best results possible. After you get comfortable doing pysanky,
feel free to try different types of dye, etc. Only a few specialty items are required, and they are
inexpensive (eg. the kistka, is about $2.50 USD).
Read ALL of "The Basic Steps"
Before you go any further, read completely and thoroughly the basic steps page.
It gives you a full outline of how to set up your workspace, how to clean your eggs,
getting used to the kistka, etc.
Choose an Egg Design
I have the complete instructions for over 35 different egg designs on my website, laid out step by step.
Click on the thumbnail picture of the egg on my designs page to go to the
instructions for that egg.
Want even more designs? Check out my offline resources page for
some excellent design books.
Now, you're all ready to begin!
Have More Questions?
Check out the hints & tricks page, featuring tons of
good advice learned through trial and error by myself and many other pysanka artists who have
kindly written in to share their knowledge. There's additional information in the
For finding specific information, check out my
sitemap/search page, which contains a
complete listing of everything to be found on learnpysanky.com, and a search engine to
search for specific words/phrases.
Still don't feel confident enough to try pysanky on your own?
Check out my where to take workshops page to see if anyone in your
area is holding a class you can attend!