Required  Pysanky (Ukrainian Easter Eggs)  tools and supplies
Home Page for


All Things Ukrainian Pysanky Supplies


The items on this list are the absolutely got-to-have-it  items to do this class.
To purchase many of these items please  CLICK HERE
Kistky  Tutorial on Kistka  (sing  pr: keest'-ka)
Kistky  (pl pr: keest'-keh)
It consists of a metal cup with a very small hole in the bottom. Below are shown 2 design types. 
Pysanky Kistky on Traditional Kistka
Foil , such as copper or brass rolled to form a cone with a fine tip.
Pysanky Kistky on Delrin Kistka
Machined brass cup with a precision hole. High temperature Delrin plastic handle. 
The traditional style tip is inexpensive, but the tip after a short period of time tends to deform. However, there is  still a high demand for  well made traditional style kistky. Our artist Olena has custom made traditional kistky exclusively made for her by craftsmen in the area around Kosiv.  She uses nothing else. The handle is also prone to ignition, so many artist opt to dipping  the kistka in a molten pot of wax, rather than using a candle flame.  The modern machined type Delrin handle kistka is designed with a brass cup and a precision exit hole. They typically come in 3 sizes: Small , Medium and Heavy; describing the line of wax each kistka can produce. The design prevents the transfer of heat to the handle, which allows the cup to stay hot longer and prevents damage to handle. Our artist Irena uses these types of kistka and has good success.  A variation on this design is the electric kistka, virtually the tip made to fit onto an electric soldering iron. They are expensive and are good to use in areas where a flame may not be permitted or outside where a candle just won't work.  We don't sell them because of the price and we feel that you can achieve the same if not better results with the Delrin design.  All kistky work by the same principal of capillary action.  We recommend for a beginner to use a medium Delrin kistka. It provides very good results in controlling the application of wax with a low frequency of clogging. 
Pysanky Beeswax on


Beeswax , a natural substance is used as the resist agent in this batik process.  Beeswax is a great sealant at room temperature. It melts easily in a typical candle flame (1300 -1400 deg F) at a temperature of about 150 deg F and solidifies quickly when it cools. Fresh beeswax is white, clear when it is heated,  making it difficult to see on a white egg.  Beeswax will turn black in a candle flame, but not consistently.  The beeswax we sell, has a black colorant added and it is very  black.  Although originally created for an electric kistky, this wax is also very helpful for use with standard kistky. Other waxes do not work as well. Paraffin is a petroleum distillate, containing as much as 3%  oil and a wide melting range of 120 to 160 deg F.  Candle making wax has other ingredients such as tallow and impurities that affect the melting point, increase flammability and may clog your kistka. I tried some candle wax from a candle making kit one time. When I was making a bleached egg, the wax completely dissolved when immersed in the bleach bath, totally destroying hours of work.  Best to stick with pure beeswax for use in your kistka. We sell it in 1 oz blocks or formed into a string for easy filling of your kistka. 


The egg, a Pysanky artist's canvas. Specifically the egg shell.  Choose your egg shells wisely.  Best place to get your eggs are from free-range chickens.  If you can find someone who has chickens, perhaps you can trade them one of your future masterpieces for some eggs.  Shells from free roaming chickens are generally thicker.  Store bought eggs are usually produced in a factory like environment, chemically washed and tend to have more surface imperfections.  If you can find a farmer that will sell you some eggs, ask them not to wash them. This will immediately shock them, but explain that you want no soap film and cleaned with only light hand washing and only  with plain water. The dyes you will use will only penetrate a thin film on the outside of the egg. If this surface is removed by harsh washing or scratched , then these imperfections will show up when the dye is applied or the dye will not penetrate at all. However, if can't find these types of eggs, the grocery store will do. Choose the medium to large grade of eggs. The shells will be better.  You also need to find eggs that have no cracks. It is difficult to see the cracks and they are usually not apparent under normal light. However, if  you place the egg up to a strong desk lamp or window  as shown below, they are easily seen.  I do not recommend grading eggs across several cartons of eggs in your grocery store and there may be some laws against doing this .However I have noticed that the lighting at most dairy cases are very good , especially after midnight.
Future Omelet 

You can also blow out and clean your eggs before you use it for Pysanky. We sell an excellent egg blower.  This has the advantage of guaranteeing that you have a good egg before doing all the time consuming  work. I have also found that it gives you more freedom to start and stop whenever you choose. If you use a full egg, the clock is ticking when it comes out of the refrigerator. The design should really be finished in a few days for the best results. After that , the gasses inside the egg start to build pressure and can affect the dye process.  Also remember that if you use full eggs, to let them sit out before you start, and don't boil them.  Depending on the humidity and temperature, water may condense on the outside of the eggs, causing the dyes to run and the wax to not stick. Another advantage to using blown eggs is that when you do find a source for good eggs, you can get several dozen.  Then, process them all at once, blowing  them out clean and use them the entire year when you need them. However,  for the beginner, when designs are simple, full eggs are much easier to handle.  Also, don't limit yourself to only chicken eggs, there are duck, goose, turkey, Ostrich, cockatiel and don't pass up those brown eggs.

Pysanky Dye on

Egg Dyes

The original dyes in Ukraine were made from items found in nature, such as roots, berries, vegetable skins and minerals. Modern day artists use pre-packaged aniline dyes which yield much brighter colors than their natural predecessors. One drawback is that they do make the egg contents toxic.Therefore, any full egg that has been dyed in an aniline dye should NEVER be eaten.  I have tried using other sources of dye like "RIT", but had no success.  If you want to eat the eggs, I would suggest that your efforts would be better spent using  boiled eggs, plain food color dye and wax crayons to create an Easter Egg.  The aniline dyes are for  making real Pysanky and are very vivid and permanent. When you prepare your dyes, do it the night before and read the directions on the dye packets. Each one is different and require different ingredients.   I would suggest using distilled water, which can be purchased at your local  grocery store and white distilled vinegar. Buy a gallon of the vinegar, it has many other uses in this art that we will discuss later. 


You need some type of flame to be able to heat your kistka and melt the wax. A candle is just the ticket.  No electricity or batteries required.  The candle is probably what ancient Ukrainians used and that is what I recommend. Of course, it is an open flame and you must take precautions as you would burning any other candle in your home.  I like a good sturdy candle stick holder with a wide base. (like the one shown to the left). Its not easy to tip over and provides a nice safe place to hold my hot kistky. I also recommend cutting your candles in half. This makes the flame lower to the work surface and easier on the shoulder. Most any taper will do. I buy my candles at the dollar store (3/$1) and they work fine.  A good practice is always to blow out the candle when you leave the table. 
PENCIL Yes, you will need a pencil. Its not cheating, even great Pysanky artists still use pencils. Although,  I would recommend spending a little more and getting a mechanical pencil. It will keep the point and you can adjust the length of the lead. No 2 or harder softness. The lighter the line  the better. You can buy these at most office supply stores, found in the drafting tools section. Art's crafts stores also carry a wide variety of these. 


Distilled white vinegar.  You need this to make the dyes and as a solvent to pre-clean your eggs prior to dying. You should be able to find this at most any grocery store.


Wide mouth  canning jars. Get a dozen, don't forget the lids and keep the box too. If you don't want to do Pysanky for awhile, seal the jars tight,  pack all the dyes back in the box and put it in the back of closet somewhere.  Make sure they are made for canning. If so ,they will be tempered to take the high temperatures when making the dyes. They are not that expensive and no one would want to save a few bucks and have scalding hot black aniline dye running all over your kitchen counter or floor. Don't be foolish, buy the correct jars. One package of dye makes 1-1/2 cups, which would require  pint jars. I always make double the amount,using quart jars. You can only fit about 1 egg in a pint jar, but at least  3 eggs in the quarts.  Something to think about  if you are planning a Pysanky party. 


These are very sharp little knives and come in handy for several purposes making Pysanky. You can use it to cut up your beeswax, trim your candle or remove blobs (explanation later in this class). You can find them at all hobby stores, made by several different manufacturers and in most home improvement and hardware stores. Be careful with this and keep it away from  small kids. Keep it away from teenagers too. My son carved all my candles into totem poles at an out door festival last year. 


This is a big drafting eraser. You can find them at most office supply stores, craft and art shops. It is used ONLY at the very end of the process to remove any remaining pencil marks that may be showing in white areas on the egg. Regular pencil erasers don't do as clean a job as these "professional" erasers do. 


Seen these before?  Can't find them in your local office supply store. No sir, these are only found in your local supermarket fresh vegetable isle. Yes its a broccoli rubber band. They are the perfect size and shape. I have looked everywhere to buy these and the only place that I can find them is in the supermarket. Don't like broccoli?  Well, you could case the vegetable isle everyday after work until one pops loose on the floor and you could inconspicuously stuff it into your sock.  Perhaps even beg the vegetable clerk for one.  Better yet,  just eat some broccoli, its very good for you and lowers your chance for colon cancer from what I have heard. 


Sooner or later your kistka is going to clog. There are techniques for clearing it , but sometimes they just don't work and you will need some wire. You will need wire about .005 to .010 inch thick wire and stiff enough to push out a clog.  Where can you find something like that?  Perhaps a hobby or craft store might have something. We actually give away this type wire free, for the asking,  with any purchase. 


Some people like to use paper towels. I disagree. I think single ply Scott paper tissue works the best for all things.  Paper towels and quilted, multi-ply tissue contain quite a bit of lint. It eventually collects on your wax and ends up in the kistka, creating these awful clogs. No fun. Best to just keep a roll handy. Just remember to replace any borrowed rolls. 


These are stainless steel slotted serving spoons. We use them for dipping the eggs in the dye. The holes allow the dye to leak back into the jar, saving you precious dye.  I would get maybe 2 or 3 of these and you can find them in most department stores for a buck or two. 


In Ukraine, we have found that most artists do not varnish their Pysanky. Our on-staff artists have been using a little linseed oil to protect their finished works. However, this may be due more to  the lack of quality varnishes and polyurethane's. As Ukraine's economy grows, that may change in the near  future. Myself, I have always used an oil based polyurethane. Never use a water-based coating. My niece shrieked when my brother dunked her first Pysanky in a can of water-based polyurethane. We all watched  her very first egg design dissolve into a completely white egg. I prefer the semi-gloss, however, if you want that high shine glass look, I would suggest using a high-gloss grade. As always read the label and take precautions. Keep it away from children.  Use disposable gloves and make sure that you are in a well ventilated area away from pilot lights or open flames.  We also have great tips on applying your varnish, which we will share later on in this course. 
If you are going to varnish the eggs, you will need to protect your skin. You can use either Nitrile Gloves or Disposable Plastic Gloves. I would recommend the least expensive disposable gloves that you can find. Try your dollar store,home improvement center or drug store. Better to use a new pair every time, rather than contaminate the polyurethane or mark the egg. 

Additional Links for More Information  (Offsite)
Pysanky Supplies

Egg Shells - General Chemistry Online

Capillary Action - UC Davis Website

Aniline Dyes

Beeswax  -

Batik - Indonesian Website