It began, as these things often do, with Facebook. A friend of mine in Brno arranged a workshop to teach some of the methods for creating beautiful Czech Easter Eggs. Now, there are many styles and techniques for creating the spectacular eggs that the Czech Republic is famed for, but we were focusing on techniques that are apparently traditional Moravian.
I will also note that Pysanky eggs, from the Ukraine, which I believe are getting more popular in the US use similar techniques. But I'd prefer not to execute an extensive egg ethnography here, instead, I'll just focus on showing you some pretty pictures of eggs Hope and I made.
The eggs below were photographed in an Austrian Ostermarkt (you can guess, right?), but it gives you the general idea of the effect we were going for. Exquisitely decorated eggs with no particular use-by date.
As you can see, we needed white, blown out eggs for this project. Right there, you have a crisis. There are no "white eggs" in Europe. As you probably know, brown eggs are brown because the chickens that laid them have brown ear lobes (no word of a lie: Idiot's Guide To Chickens). White eggs are laid by chickens with white earlobes. While most of the eggs you see in markets in the US are white, quite the opposite is true in Europe (and Asia): all the eggs are brown.
The good news is that in both Austria and the Czech Republic, there is a sudden flurry of white eggs available on the shelf in the period just before Easter. The bad news is, given that these white earlobed chickens are probably being flown over from the US First Class, a dozen eggs cost about what you'd expect to pay for your first house, give or take.
Blowing them out was another winner. I figured I could get the wee children hopping on this particular task. Wrong. They both turned green at the notion and fled. Nice. But, I was ultimately successful in getting a half dozen eggs cleaned out, packaged and they made the trip to Brno without further incident.
I'm going to start this by showing you some close-to-final eggs, and hopefully this not-a-real-tutorial will suffice if you do decide to try this on your own. Ultimately, it's quite easy with the right equipment. These eggs are only "close to finished" because the technique we are using is the wax-resist method: you are supposed to apply wax, apply dye, then remove wax, so the white egg shows through. It's quite pretty, but I actually liked the wax just the way it was, and failed to photograph anyone who follows directions better than I.
So take your white, blown out egg, and using the utmost care trying not to think about what the egg you are clutching cost, start drilling. The drill is apparently some sort of fancy crafting tool; I tried this with my regular power drill at home to slightly less impressive results. And, while there is no way I am going to run out and buy a fancy crafting drill in order to drill Easter eggs, they do turn out rather a bit nicer with a smaller, faster drill. If you have a friend with a fancy craft drill, do try this at home.
Next the we applied wax. This is a less fancy schamcy setup and easy to replicate at home. Spoon, duct tape, can of beans and a candle, you are good to go. We took a small pin and stuck it in the eraser end of a pencil, dipped the pinhead in the melted wax and flicked the wax on the eggs. Hope was able to work this out at home, so not tricky.
After the wax has set, into the dye pots they go! Dye is about the same here as it is anywhere, although, if you buy it in the US, you probably get instructions in English.
We stuck wooden skewers in a bit of modeling clay to let the eggs dry properly, and then then if one choose, it was time to remove the wax by running the egg through a candle flame and wiping the melting wax off.
And voilà! Beautiful Easter eggs! These are the eggs Hope and I made at home, and you can see we took terrible liberties with the "traditional Moravian" method. We used colored crayons (!!) so there really was no thought to removing the wax. But, we like them, and that is really all there is to it.
Next: Poor Sissi