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The Wax-Resist Process


Betty Pisio Christenson decorates
an egg using a wax-resist
technique and shellac, 1986.
Photo by James P. Leary

These five eggs show five steps in the wax-resist process of making pysanky, intricately decorated Ukrainian Easter eggs. First, the artist draws the design directly on to the eggshell. Wax is applied to an egg using a wire tool, a kristka, to areas designated not to take a color. The egg is then dipped in a colored dye. The wax is melted off revealing the color beneath, and the process is repeated using another dye.

Betty Pisio Christenson of Suring, Wisconsin created these eggs. Her parents settled in Suring after moving from the Ukraine in the early 1900s. Christenson taught herself the technique for making pysanky after seeing eggs decorated by relatives.

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Step 1: Draw directly on the egg.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1996.118.360

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Step 2: Apply wax and dip into a dye color.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1996.118.361

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Step 3: Melt wax and start process again.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1996.118.362

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Step 4: Egg with wax after final dip into black dye.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1996.118.363

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Step 5: Remove all wax, revealing the finished egg.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1996.118.364

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A new wax block.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1996.118.367

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A well used kristka (wire tool). This tool applies wax to the egg.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1996.118.371

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A melted wax block.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1996.118.368

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