A Burning Desire to Create

With Easter around the corner, our family is busy with our annual project: Ukrainian Easter Egg Decorating. This craft brings us joy, calm, and focus, as we continue to pray for my mother’s homeland.

Creativity touched our daily lives with my mother delving into one design project after another. She was a force to be reckoned with when it came to creating something from, well, anything, really—textiles, exotic woods, and even food items.

Coming from a Ukrainian background, she had the most incredible patience creating pysanky Easter eggs. She taught her four children this craft, and we painstakingly tried to mimic her elaborate designs. Dot after dot, we tried.

Good Friday was the day we hovered around the stove with the hot wax and our rudimentary kistkas (a drawing tool filled with hot wax).

After some shaky designs, we would dip our eggs into coloured water and repeat the process with more wax and more colours.

Needless to say, blobs of wax would inadvertently fall onto the egg and ruin our well-intentioned designs. Some eggs even ended up in the back alley! I remember my frustrated brother pitching one out the kitchen door and into the back lane. His perfectly planned design became a victim of an unsuspecting splotch of hot wax. I wonder what the people walking down the alley thought as a dreadful, wax covered egg came flying by.

Through the struggle, our skills got stronger

Our skills improved over the years, and my mom began to purchase better dyes from the local Ukrainian store. Vibrant colours came in foil-lined packages that we mixed in individual coffee cups filled with boiling water (with some colours requiring a tablespoon of vinegar). We also used better quality bees wax and more modern kistkas to give us greater control of our designs.

Mom, however, always created the best array of eggs, intricately designed in colours brighter than a garden of tulips. Her eggs were coveted and became the centrepiece of our Easter Sunday dinner table.

Recently, my daughters gifted me with an electric kistka which heats the wax to a consistent temperature. This ensures a steady flow of wax with no more blobs. It came with a variety of tips that allowed me to choose different line weights. This has enabled me to create very intricate, detailed designs. After many decades (and modern tools), I think the student may have finally become the master.

Easter Egg Kistkas

Carrying On Mom’s Legacy

Many years after her death, I still pay homage to my mother. Her creative flare inspires me every day in my design work, across many mediums. I aspire to recreate her Ukrainian Easter eggs, follow her recipe for melt-in-your-mouth shortbread, create the flakiest pie crust I can, and much more.

And with time, the Ukrainian Easter eggs that I create might inspire my daughters and granddaughters as well.

A “Burning Desire to Create” is an excerpt from The Green Velvet Chair: Heartfelt Stories of Art and Design in Everyday Life.


Download an excerpt on my website: https://badass-ballerini.com/download-excerpt/

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Laura Ballerini

Author Laura Ballerini

Laura Ballerini, a designer who started much of her creative journey at a big city newspaper and now owns her own digital design boutique, seamlessly weaves together an unlikely array of stories about her inspiring mother, museum visits, online shopping, designing in the dirt, and many other adventures (including a visit to Graceland).

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