Some of Stettler’s Ukrainian community gathered around the table at Remedy Art Studio on Tuesday evening, March 22, to take part in a pysanky decorating workshop hosted by artist Stephanie Hadley. Among them was also 93-year-old Nellie Dennis, who had come with her daughter Bea Brososky.
Pysanky is the Ukrainian term for the delicately decorated and painted eggs for which the Ukrainian people are known. Using wax, the artist draws detailed images on the egg before it’s dyed, then removes the wax later to reveal the undyed lines of the image.
“I was coming to the workshop and thought I would bring my mum along too so that she could enjoy it,” said Brososky, as she carefully continued painting her pysanka under the watchful eyes of Nellie Dennis.
Artist Stephanie Hadley tried doing pysanky for the first time almost 16 years back and it got her hooked.
“I had a very good friend from college who was Ukrainian, and she offered to come over and show my son Stephen and I how to do pysanky and I have been doing it ever since,” said Hadley. “It has become one of my favourite traditions, and I have noticed that it is somewhat fading away, with supplies being harder and harder to find, and those people who were highly skilled and created hundreds of pysanky are no longer doing it, or are few and far between.”
In 2000 when Hadley tried it, she was first impressed by the brilliant colours that the Ukrainian dyes can create, and the fine details one can add to the eggs.
“After doing some research years ago, I became even more enthralled, as I learned about the history, symbolism and tradition of it and I think they are so amazing,” continued Hadley. “I wanted others to have the opportunity to try it, or to find supplies locally, or to reconnect with something they used to enjoy, so I held eight classes altogether this year, and I think everyone really enjoyed themselves.”
According to Hadley the most difficult part of the process is wax removal.
“I find the wax removal most difficult, this is the point where I have seen too many eggs break, and sometimes tears, because it is a lot of work, and the egg is fragile, too much pressure or too much heat can crack the shell,” explained Hadley. “I also avoid blowing out the raw egg for the same reason, it is very risky and after putting so much time and effort into your pysanka, it would be a shame to ruin it.”
Remedy Art Studio located at the heart of Stettler is hosting several art and mixed media classes throughout April and May.
On April 30, visiting artist Marian Jacoba Shilka will be coming to the studio to provide a full day workshop on Intuitive Watercolours.