CLARKS SUMMIT — Tammy Budnovitch helped people get ready for Easter by teaching the Ukrainian custom of Pysanky eggs. The Wallenpaupack resident taught a Pysanky Workshop at The Gathering Place on March 15. Pysanky eggs made by Budnovitch were displayed in egg cartons and for sale.
Budnovitch began by stating a few facts about the Ukrainian type of Easter egg.
“Pysanky were made primarily by the women as the men were out tending to the fields and the animals,” she said. “Pysanky were made year round but mostly during Easter.”
Budnovitch also said pysanky are given away to family and friends on other occasions, like when a child is born, someone gets married or when a loved one passes away. She also said that, according to Ukrainian legend, pysanky eggs ward off evil spirits, claiming that, as long as the art of pysanky making is performed, the chains of evil, formed into a monster, will remain tight and unable to break free.
Budnovitch demonstrated how to use the kistka (stylist) by placing it near a lit candle to make it hot enough to dip into a hardened piece of beeswax. The kistka served as a pen while the beeswax was the ink because the pysanky eggs carry “written” messages. Budnovitch told her students the word pysanky comes from the Ukrainian verb “pysaty,” which means “to write.” Students used rubber bands to outline spirals on their raw, white egg, which they were given to make into pysanky.
Budnovitch encouraged her students by telling them there are no mistakes when it comes to art. She then dipped their eggs into jars of aniline dye to give them color. While the egg itself represents life, each color represents a different quality. Red means love; pink means success or contentment; black means remembrance, eternity and death. Then, the students drew symbols on their eggs, including crosses, which represented Jesus’ crucifixion.
Students put their pysanky over the lit candles to dry them, giving off a sulfuric odor. Some of the students also put Vaseline or olive oil on their pysanky to give them a shine.
“This is my first class here,” said Scranton resident Marci Stevens, who dyed her pysanky black and drew a cross on it. “I love it so much that I would do it again.”
Budnovitch has been making pysanky eggs since she was 5 or 6 years old. She started teaching people how to make pysanky when her church, SS Cyril and Methodius Ukrainian Catholic Church in Olyphant, celebrated its 125th anniversary. She offered a class on pysanky eggs and since then, has been going to homes and conducting classes to teach people of all cultural backgrounds the art of pysanky making.
“I love teaching,” she said. “I love to keep the tradition going. It’s fun to have the people from different nationalities learn the tradition.”
For anyone who wants to learn pysanky, Budnovitch offers a Facebook page called Pysanky by Tammy.