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ARTIST


My name is Barbara Novak and I have been making pysanky for almost 30 years. I first saw these wonderful works of art at an art fair in my town. I have always been fascinated by tiny things, miniatures especially, and was drawn to this one booth to look at the eggs more closely. I was truly captivated! The lady at the booth was also the artist and explained that it was "not that hard" and I should try it. She gave me the name of her supplier and I wrote to them for a catalog. The Ukrainian Gift Shop was the place and their catalog soon arrived. I looked through it and decided to buy a kit.

I followed instructions and soon had my first egg--very wobbly lines and the dye was spotting but I had made one. It was so enjoyable I could work for hours just concentrating on the design and the process. Eventually I bought an electric kistka; I knew I was hooked for life! They offered a book on designs and more hints on "how to", I bought it and the others that followed. A new color of dye? I got it too. A poster with some of their gorgeous eggs--you know I ordered it right away.

At first I made the eggs for myself. Then after I was more pleased with their look, I started giving them as gifts to my family. When I look at those eggs now, it is such a shock, I don't think they are good at all. But my sisters were always pleased and wanted more. I began to sell a few here and there but still kept most for myself. I used them as hostess gifts when we were invited to events and was asked if they could be ordered. More requests, more orders to fill. Our library asked if I would do a display-"Sure!", I said. I filled their one case with everything I had at the time.



My Mother had found some cute coated wire racks to display eggs-one like a bunny and one a Ferris wheel. My grandmother had given me a doll that looked as if she belonged in an ethnic type display so I used her too. My daughter had made some hand stenciled napkins at school--they went into a basket with eggs. The library also asked me to give a demonstration--"Why not?", said I. My husband is my right hand man at all times and especially for events like this. He carries everything and helps set up. He is right there to hand me what I cannot reach, circulate the room and answer questions.

The library said my demo and display generated the most questions and comments of anything they had ever put up! I have had a display there several times and also at the high school. The children are very interested and really mob me when I am putting it up or taking it down. I always have several posters up and make cards for the display with basic information. I also try to throw in a little history so they understand what it's all about; not just some other 'craft project'.

As with most things I enjoy there are so many ideas and so little time. I love making my pysanky. Since I am recently retired from driving a school bus, I can spend much more time doing eggs. I can sit for hours and work on various designs, going from the raw eggshell to the dye jars, back to another design, then to my drawer with idea pictures and folders with yet more inspirations. I have actually fallen asleep while concentrating on a design--usually with the result that the kistka slides across the egg (oh, no!) leaving a long wax trail! That is when I look at the clock and realize just how long I have been at it and that it is time to stop and go to bed! It is a very relaxing way to spend your time and forget about anything else.

Hunting for egg sources has resulted in meeting some interesting people. My husband is always on the lookout for a new source and will spot a sign that says "EGGS" quicker than anything! I have even found a bag of goose egg shells on my porch from a stranger that happened to raise geese and heard about me from a friend. You never know where something will take you. Friends at work bring me the eggs from their pets; cockatiels and doves. A very good customer sent some parrot eggs a friend had given her. The local pet shop saves eggs for me sometimes and we are still close enough to rural areas to find 'fresh egg' signs.

These are cockatiel eggs-they can sit on a quarter.


These are the smallest I have done so far; finch eggs from a pet store. That is a dime for comparison. The shells are so thin, the survival rate for me is about 1 in 5.


Many of my designs are from books that are freely offered. These are enjoyable to make and don't always turn out exactly like the pattern you are following. Lately I have been using more custom designs on my own by using other sources of inspiration or combining traditional elements into my own interpretations. One book is especially interesting as it has examples from all over Ukraine. I intend to try to reproduce the many different styles it features. (Sixty Score of Easter Eggs by Zenon Elyjiw, Rochester, New York, 1994.)


Take care and thank you for visiting my pysanky site. I hope you have enjoyed looking at the eggs and will come back soon. Perhaps you may find one that you would like for your very own or want to give to someone special. I'm always glad to "talk eggs" so don't hesitate to write! (yes, that is yours truly in the banner)
Barb

Link to Novak Family Photo Gallery

Link to Hudson High Class of 1964

Copyright 1999 Barbara Novak