This method of egg decoration is popular in Eastern Europe/Russia.  Traditionally the eggs were decorated in Lent – it was a way to use up the eggs that were no longer being eaten during the fasting period before Easter.  The eggs are decorated using a wax resist method.  The designs are “written” onto the egg using beeswax and then the egg is placed in dye.  More complex designs can be created by building up more wax patterns onto the dyed egg, and using a series of different dye colours.  Once the design is complete, the wax is melted off to reveal the final design.  The contents of the egg are then removed and the egg is coated in varnish.

These were traditionally made during Lent – in the season before Easter each year. I make them throughout the year. They make attractive Christmas decorations, as well as gifts to commemorate special events.

 

Tradition

Although the practice of decorating eggs predates Christianity, more recently, folklore and Christian beliefs have been blended, and the decorated egg is now firmly attached to the Easter celebration. Traditionally the eggs were decorated in Lent – it was a way to use up the eggs that were no longer being eaten during the fasting period before Easter.  The women of a household would gather together to decorate the eggs in the evenings during Lent – once all the work and chores were complete, and only after any disagreements had been settled. The eggs were then blessed in church on Easter Day, and given away to friends and family.

Method

This style of egg decoration uses a wax resist method.  The designs are “written” onto the egg using beeswax. A special tool, called a kitska, is like a tiny metal funnel. It is used to heat the beeswax, and then is used to draw lines of molten wax onto the eggshell. Once the pattern is finished, the egg is placed in a liquid dye.  More intricate designs can be created by layering up more wax patterns onto the dyed egg, and using a series of different dye colours.  Alternatively, or in addition, the egg can be etched using acid. This adds a three-dimensional element to the design. Once the design is complete, the wax is melted off to reveal the final design.  After each egg is finished, I coat it in a few layers of varnish. This protects the design, and makes the shells more robust.

Although I do make more of these eggs during Lent – in the season before Easter each year, I also make them throughout the year. They make attractive Christmas decorations, as well as gifts to commemorate special events. I’ve designed eggs to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, passing exams, and many more!