For this week’s CFFC – Things That Are Smooth I want to show you Pisanki – painted eggs – and tell you about this Easter tradition in Poland.
Let’s start with the name. Pisanka comes from a polish word that means “to write”, but in old polish also meant “to paint”. Pisanki then can be called “painted eggs”. They are mostly chicken eggs, although goose or duck eggs were also used.
There are many techniques of decorating Easter eggs. They vary depending on the region of Poland and its specific traditions and are very different from each other. The pisanki on my photograph, unfortunately, are not an example of any specific style. They are very colorful and include common Polish motifs, but are chiefly produced for tourists. 🙂
The simplest decorating method is to boil an egg in water to which various plants or other natural products have been added to achieve a specific color. Brown onion skins will produce a lovely light brown egg; tea will render it a darker brown. Marigold flower will leave a lovely yellow egg, mallow flower will give an egg a violet color, and beets will make it pink. More elaborate designs include painting a pattern with the hot wax on the egg first, then submerging it in its color bath. Since this technique can be dangerous when kids decorate their eggs, simple crayons work very well instead of hot wax. In my childhood I had often used crayons and onion skins for my eggs and I loved their warm, brown color.
A variation of the color method is to dunk the egg in its bath first and then when it is cooled scratch the design on it with a sharp tool. These required more attention to detail and were often done by artisans.
Other techniques include painting on the eggs, gluing small bits of colored paper on them to create a design, and also gluing long strips of yarn of various colors tightly around the whole egg.