A Good Egg or, What Happens When Hackers Celebrate Pysanky Day

Okay, so first of all, Pysanky Day is a very special day celebrating the thousands-of-years-old art of Ukrainian egg decorating (a “pysanka” is one such egg, “pysanky” is multiples of them).  Now, there’s not an actual Pysanky Day; folks decorate the eggs traditionally around Easter time.  In my household, however, we celebrate several different holidays around Spring:  Passover, Easter, and Ostara.  Each year we decorate eggs and it’s grown from just Paas dyes to pysanky.

When I asked one of my fellow hackers if they’d like to learn the art, they got totally excited about using the Egg Bot.

The what?

The Egg Bot!

Of course, there’s a bot for eggs.  Why?  Because Hackerspace.

And thus, Pysanky Day was born.


A celebration of the ancient:  the plain egg is drawn on with melted beeswax using a tool called a “kistka.”  Based on technology that’s about four thousand years old, it just consists of a stick or dowel with a hole drilled in one end, into which is inserted a metal funnel.  The funnel is held in place with copper wire.

After heating the tip of the kistka in a candle flame, a small amount of wax is scooped into the fat part of the funnel.  It takes some practice to get the wax to flow smoothly without making drops of wax on the egg.


One of my favorite designs, this is from one of the series of five Ukrainian Design Books available from the Ukrainian Gift Shop in Roseville, Minnesota. Part of the design was done with a traditional kistka, and part was done with an electric kistka.

In principle, the electric one works the same as the manual one; I like it better because the flow of wax is much more even.


We got to playing with the Egg Bot, which brings us up to present day technology. Using a pen, it writes on the egg. The writing is completely programmable.


And finally, in true hacker style, we used the 3-D printer to print an egg holder in the shape of a bunny rabbit. One of our members, walking through the space toward the end of Pysanky Day, commented, “Oh! Rabbit Pants!”

Yup. Hackerspace.


All egg images used by permission, copyright: CC-BY-SA Everett C. Wilson ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/).

Image of the Egg Bot from the Egg Bot site, (http://egg-bot.com/)

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9 thoughts on “A Good Egg or, What Happens When Hackers Celebrate Pysanky Day

  1. Wow. Pretty cool to see a Ukrainian price featured.

    I gotta get out to your hackerspace one of these days…

    1. Thanks! We had a lot of fun and will do another one soon – I want to see what else the Egg Bot can do, for one thing, and I bought new dyes to refresh some of the colors (the black this time was a little faded and so was the dark green).

      Look forward to seeing you soon at the space; Tuesday nights are good since we have member meetings and tours; the last Sunday of the month we do an Orientation. You can check out the calendar for other events and see what interests you.

      Have a great weekend!

  2. Ooh! My sister-in-law does these; they’re *gorgeous*! I’ve kind of wanted to try it, but it looks like it would take a fair amount of time and pretty steady hands, of which I have neither, really.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Elizabeth! I agree, they’re gorgeous. They’re not that hard, actually; you can do very simple, large designs and wouldn’t need a super steady hand. I’ll have a post soon on Knoontime Knitting with some more egg pics; one of them is a good example of a two-color egg with simple white outlining (so, three coats of wax).

  3. I love these. If you don’t mind my asking, what kind of dye is used? I remember using crayons as a child to write names, messages, or draw pictures before dipping boiled Easter eggs in the iconic Paas dyes. These colors are clearly more intense. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi, Darla! Here’s the scoop: Paas uses food-grade dyes, which makes eggs that are edible. The dyes typically used in pysanky are aniline dyes, which are not edible; additionally, you use either a raw or blown egg for pysanky and not hard boiled ones the way you do with Paas (using a hard boiled egg means the egg will rot, and since it’s not edible when dye is applied, that’s not desirable).

      You can find more on the dyes on the Ukrainian Gift Shop site, here: http://www.ukrainiangiftshop.com/; they’re not very expensive and are easy to make. They sell kits of a few dyes and kistka, everything you need to try it out; that’s a fun way to get started (that’s how I did it, in fact). Let me know if you decide to give it a shot; I’d love to see how you like it.

  4. How did you print that cool logo and the measuring tape increments on your machine? It looks great! Was that a laser etching process?

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