Editor’s note: Shreveport native Shelley Masog participated in the Texas Avenue Makers Fair on April 11 and shares some of her experiences about the fair and her art.
I make pysanky, also known as Ukrainian Easter eggs. They are created on real blown eggshells using the batik method of writing with hot wax and dyeing, repeating the process until complete. Once finished the wax is melted off to reveal the completed design.
I first became interested in pysanky as a teenager. On my father’s side of the family we are descended from Polish immigrants. They settled in Minnesota, where there is a large Eastern European influence. Whenever we visited family in Minnesota, I was always fascinated by the pysanky my uncle made. In the summer 2010, my uncle showed me how to write my first pysanka, and I have been practicing ever since.
Nearly everyone who visited my booth was complimentary and interested in this folk art. The most fascinating detail to people who are unfamiliar with this process seems to be that pysanky are made on real eggshells. I believe the highlight of my day was a father and daughter who stopped by and were surprised to find pysanky. This past Sunday, April 12, was the Orthodox Easter Sunday, and they purchased eggs for their Pascha baskets and hugged me when they left.
Pysanky comes from the Ukrainian word for “to write,” so often the process is called writing pysanky, not drawing. Pysanky is the plural form, and a single egg is a pysanka. It is believed that this art has been practiced for hundreds of years. The eggs symbolized spring and new life to ancient people. With the influence of Christianity, the eggs came to symbolize eternal life and other religious beliefs. The art has been passed down through generations of people in the Ukraine and other areas, and women traditionally created them at Easter. Today we see egg artists who write pysanky throughout the year. Even though many of these are modern designs, we still often see traditional patterns, symbols, and motifs.
I look forward to participating in future events such as the Texas Avenue Makers Fair. In the meantime, I will be writing more eggs, some of which can be viewed in my Etsy shop called Pysanky Nest.
2015 Texas Avenue Makers Fair photo gallery by SB Magazine: