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21. Community "Let's Write a Pysanka" Beginner Workshop - Irene Johnston - Saturday July 20th - 1:00 to 3:00pm

The Pysanka Workshop is for those who have little to no experience with this ancient Ukrainian tradition. You will learn the process and how to use the tools (kistka, wax, dyes) to create traditional pysanka designs.

Class Outline:

  • At each table will be the following tools for making pysanky: Kistka, holder, paper plate, pencil, bees wax, vinegar, paper towel, handouts,
  • Participants are invited to look at various beginner pysanky which have been made using a wax-resistant method.
  • Handouts will be distributed showing basic divisions and examples of pysanky. Short discussion will follow explaining significance of designs, colours and motifs. Safety precautions will be stressed.
  • Eggs will be distributed, and instructions given to start. Participants will have time to explore and try writing the designs on a clean white chicken egg with melted beeswax.
  • Aniline dyes are provided to dip their pysanky into various vibrant colours - yellow, blue, red, green, black.
  • Information about the history, meanings of the colors and symbols in this Ukrainian art will be shared during the workshop.
  • Participants should be able to complete at least 2 pysanky.

Students will learn:

  • The history and symbolism of Ukrainian pysanky
  • How to properly hold an egg and control the kistka and flowing wax.
  • The process from start to finish of making a pysanka – white egg, dye progression from yellow to orange to red to black. Other colours (blue, pink, purple) will also be available.

Recommended number of participants:between 15 and 20

About the Instructor:

Irene currently resides in Oshawa where her parents settled after coming to Canada after the Second World War. She has been an active member of the Ukrainian community, UCWLC and the Eparchy of Toronto for over ten years. For her dedication to volunteerism in the community, she received the inaugural Ontario Trillium Award from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress - Ontario Provincial Council in September 2022.

Irene has been exhibiting her pysanky with her sisters, Maria and Doris, and daughter, Melanka for over 30 years at various art galleries, libraries and community groups. Although she enjoys many creative pursuits, from drawing to creative writing, and storytelling, her true passion is Pysanky. She learned at a young age from her mother, who learned from her own mother; Irene’s daughter and granddaughter have also learned the art form. In fact, Irene has teamed up with her daughter, Melanie, as “Sim’ya Designs”, to attend Ukrainian festivals across Ontario, and as artisans at one of North America’s largest handmade markets - the One Of A Kind craft show in Toronto.

Irene creates Pysanky with traditional designs, specializing in intricate geometric patterns, as influenced from western Ukraine motifs (where her parents were from). Her Pysanka mastery includes other techniques, such as wax resist, sgrafitto, etched, carved, engraved, silk dyed and chiyogami paper wrapped. She divides her time between her part-time job, volunteering, and exploring new techniques in creating pysanky. Irene also enjoys spending time with her family including her four cats.


Facebook & Instagram: @simyadesigns