Two Traditional Easter Egg Dyeing Methods in Romania
In Romania, as well as in all Eastern European countries, the tradition of “Easter egg dyeing has been elevated into an art form“, as reported by National Geographic.
Ever since an adolescent, 42 years old Elena Crăciunescu has been dedicating her time entirely to making egg art. “ I paint five hundred eggs a year, mainly around Easter…It’s an art inherited from our ancestors and grandparents. The motifs are inspired by our traditional costumes, which are old, and by the houses in Ciocăneşti.
Ciocăneşti has been declared a museum village, given the national motifs found on the houses.” Elena says in an interview with the filmmaker Titus-Armand Napirlica.
- Elena uses the wax resist egg dyeing method (metoda ouălelor închistrite cu ceară) This method involves wax painting and egg dyeing in successive stages.
Two holes are pierced at each end of the egg to empty the content. The content is blown out with a straw, or a siringe if you will. The drainage holes are then sealed with beeswax.
The design is drawn with wax by use of an instrument known as chişiţă. Chisiţa is a 4” wooden instrument with aluminium tip, through which goes a strand of horse or pig hair. It can be made of a 10 cm long branch, the tip of a pen and some horse hair, as shown in the video below.
After drawing the design, the egg is dipped in the dye. The color doesn’t adhere to the wax. For a multicolored design, the writing and dyeing process is repeated several times, by soaking the eggs first in one color, applying wax, then soaking in next color, and so on. As a general rule of thumb, the first color used is yellow, then the red, blue or purple and, ultimately, green.
Traditionally, the colors used in Bucovina were white, yellow, red and black.
The design is revealed when the wax is melted away by holding the egg nearby a source of heat, a candle light if you will.
2. Another method of decorating eggs is by use of alcohol inks.
After cleansing, emptying and drying the egg, the surface is degreased with isopropyl alcohol. (***This chemical can be hazardous to the health of those who encounter it directly. A proper understanding of the health risks is essential before exposure to isopropyl alcohol)
To begin with, black lines are drawn to separate the surface into sections. They are regionally known as belts. Next, the design is drawn in yellow, red, blue, purple and green. When dried, a thin protective lacquer finish is applied on the surface. The lacquer must be colorless and free of diluents or any agents that could remove the paint.
The paint is applied by use of some beechwood sticks with sharp tip. Pens can be used for drawing thin lines.
The symbols can be found throughout Romanian decorative folk art: on embroidery, ceramics, weavings, carvings, with regional variations and preferences of each community.
Various associations between geometric, avimorphic, zoomorphic, floral or anthropomorphic motifs are „borrowed” from textiles, woodworks, carvings or icons.
Sometimes artisans don’t know the name, meaning or source of a specific symbol, but remember it as something they have seen before, or learned from their grandparents.
Arta populară bucovineană, Bucuresti, 1975 -Tancred Bănăţeanu