(Above left) Kathleen Goodrich brought egg art to Blanchard Community Library’s Teen Scene recently, giving Santa Paula teens the opportunity to learn the technique and skill from past generations. (Right) A basket of decorated eggs. Photos by Susan Branham

Exquisite art of egg decoration

April 04, 2007
Santa Paula News
By Susan Branham Santa Paula TimesSometimes art blossoms in the dark of night. From the candlelit homes of the Ukraine, across thousands of years comes the exquisite art of egg decoration. Kathleen Goodrich brought that art to Blanchard Community Library’s Teen Scene recently, giving Santa Paula teens the opportunity to learn the technique and skill from past generations.“I’ve been making the eggs for eight years,” Kathleen said. She learned the ancient art from friends, and she shares the history and techniques, once practiced in secret, with others.“One night in spring women would stay up all night, sing songs, and make the design on the eggs,” she explained. It was a woman’s art, and each family had their own unique designs.It is thought that the art of Ukrainian egg decoration originated 4000 years ago, but some evidence suggests it may be even longer. “Similar symbols have been found in cave paintings and ancient structures,” she observed. “It may be as long as 6000 years.” “They believed the egg had mystical powers, life powers,” she said. “So they decorated them and they became special symbols. They were placed in thatched roofs, foundations of homes and even cow stalls. The eggs had a special symbolism, and were seen as a source of life.” This is an obvious connection for anyone who has seen a spring hatchling breaking from its shell. Some of the symbols that were placed on the egg shells included insects, water, spiders, animals, birds and flowers.“When Christianity came, the symbols took on a new meaning,” she said. “The good luck cross became a symbol of faith. Eggs became a resurrection symbol for Easter.”
Tools for the egg-decorating project include intact egg shells blown empty, beeswax, a candle for wax melting, dyes, and a stylus known as a kistka. The egg can be decorated with its contents intact, but the disadvantages of that method are obvious.The process is a lengthy one, with the results well worth the time. “You melt the beeswax over the candle flame,” she explained. Designs are drawn on the eggshells with wax and dipped into dye. The colored area is then covered with wax and the egg is dipped into another color. The process is repeated until the desired patterns are achieved. “The wax is melted off the egg at the end of the process,” she added.“It was so dear of Kathleen to come and give her time,” Ilene Gavenman, Children’s and Young Adult Librarian, remarked. “It is a unique art and we’re lucky to have her here in our community to share her gift with us.” The Teen Sceners agreed. Comments ranged from “the eggs are cool,” to “rock n’roll.” “The eggs are really nice,” Mayra Diaz, a Teen Scene attender commented. “I like how she makes all the designs. I wish I could make them like that. It was my first time seeing them. They look really difficult.”Kathleen Goodrich enjoys her craft. “It is a nice reflective way to pass the time,” she said. And the eggs have not lost their magic. Anyone that sees them smiles.

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