08 April 2012

Carrying on the Pysanky Tradition

“Wouldn’t this make a beautiful Easter Sunday?” was heard numerous times as would-be pysanky artists gathered on March 24 at Descent of the Holy Spirit Orthodox Church in Schererville, Indiana for the Carpatho-Rusyn Society/Lake Michigan Chapter’s second pysanky workshop.

“Beautiful” became an overworked word that day as attendees circled the tables displaying the colorful Easter creations of mother-daughter duo Arlene Dremak Gardiner and Karin Gardiner Sandman.  “Beautiful. Just incredibly beautiful.” “I’ll never be able to make anything like that.”  “Gorgeous.  Absolutely gorgeous.”

The two instructors assured the novices that by learning the technique and lots of practice they could also learn to make such Easter treasures to share with family and friends.  During her Power Point presentation, Karin showed the styles, symbols and techniques used by the various Eastern European groups—Rusyns, Poles, Slovaks, Ukrainians and others.  Each attendee received an information packet for future reference so they could continue working on their skills at home.
Art teacher John E. Thomas and his students Meredith Rogers and Kimberly Lord create their pysanky.

After the presentation, each person selected a design and began lightly penciling it on an egg.   The real test was learning how to heat the wax in the kishka or stylus and applying it only to the parts of the design to remain white before submersing it in yellow dye.  Or perhaps the real test is realizing that one must wax the areas to remain yellow and then dip it into the next darker color which then needs to be waxed and then dipped in a darker dye.  It is no wonder that pysanky are treasured by the creator as well as by those gifted with such a delicate piece of art.
C-RS/LMC board member Brendan
Barry concentrates on his creation.

John Glenn High School (Walkerton, Indiana) veteran art teacher John E. Thomas said he was absolutely delighted when senior Meredith Rogers shared information about Lake Michigan Chapter’s upcoming workshop in the bulletin from St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church in Munster, Indiana.

“I read an article about pysanky in National Geographic some years ago.  I find it fascinating.  I talked to the kids in our Art Club about it.  They want to learn the technique, too. I’m so glad Meredith told me about the workshop.”
Indiana award-winning art student
Meredith Rogers also wins the door
prize of three pysanky created by
 instructor Karin Gardiner Sandman.

Mr. Thomas also shared the news that Meredith would be going to Carnegie Hall in New York City in June for the second time to accept a national award for high school art students from all over the country.  Her entry was an oil painting of glassware, only the second oil she’s ever done.  In her sophomore year, a charcoal self-portrait garnered her the honor.  Look for a posting on our Lake Michigan Chapter blog about Meredith’s award in late June.

The workshop closed with Meredith winning the door prize of a basket of three pysanky created by Karin and the new pysanky artists showing off their creations.

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