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From Shell to Symbol: Art of the Ethnic Easter Egg

The Wax-Resist Process/Tools of the Trade


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.

1
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2
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3
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4
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5
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A new wax block
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A new wax block
A melted wax block
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A melted wax block


A well used kristka
1996.118.371
A well used kristka
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