Polish Easter Eggs – Pisanki

My eggs

“Who wants to color Easter eggs?”

I ask this every year right before Easter, and seldom get any takers.  But Friday night our daughter’s boyfriend was over when I made my yearly plea.

“I LOVE to color Easter eggs,” he said.

Score…my kind of guy!

So we set everything up and went to task.  I got to once again relive a childhood tradition, passed down from my father’s parents, who arrived at Ellis Island from Poland in the early 1900’s.

Our daughter's boyfriend's first attempt!

My father always meticulously oversaw the annual Easter tradition at our house.  We didn’t just put a few crayon markings on the hard-boiled eggs and dunk them in food coloring.  Mom would save up empty soup and tuna cans for weeks.  A few evenings before Easter my mother, father, nine brothers and I would gather to delicately inscribe our artistic masterpieces on a few dozen boiled-egg canvases.  Mom carefully prepared the vinegar and food coloring dyes in the soup cans while we spread newspaper on the kitchen table and counters.  My older brothers took a dozen of Mom’s one-piece wooden clothespins and tapped one sewing pin into the head of each.  Dad cut shavings off a brick of paraffin and placed them in the tuna cans, which he then placed on the gas stove burners over low flames. 

Our daughter's eggs

We each had an egg in one hand and a clothespin tool in the other, as we took turns dipping the pin head into the melted wax and then quickly making one stroke on our egg.  Each egg received a multiplicity of strokes and dots, formed into patterns of palm branches, crosses, religious messages, and anything else that came to mind.  We would each wait for a soup can to be eggless, and then slowly lower our prized egg into the can.  We learned how to produce multi-colored eggs by putting more wax strokes on dried colored eggs, going from lighter to darker colors, adding more wax strokes each time.

I’ve adapted the technique a little bit over the years.  Instead using wooden clothespins, we just push a straight pin into the eraser of a new pencil.  And instead of standing over a stove, we sit at the table and keep the wax melted over a tea light candle.

I was so proud of my eggs, and sent photos to a couple of my brothers.  They sent back photos of their eggs, and I stand in awe.  Maybe if I can find enthusiastic Easter egg coloring participants each year, I can get more proficient at it!
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4 Responses to “Polish Easter Eggs – Pisanki”

  1. Stacy Rodolph Says:

    Judy – these are beautiful. Next year i will attempt with Caitlyn

  2. hard boiled eggs Says:

    hard boiled eggs…

    […]Polish Easter Eggs – Pisanki « Truthing It[…]…

  3. judyransom Says:

    Reblogged this on Truthing It.

  4. slowdancejournal Says:

    So beautiful, but more important, so steeped in family history.

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