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Katy David's Profile

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I create my artwork using a centuries-old technique called Pysanky (the name comes from the Ukrainian verb “to write.”) This is a batik process using beeswax, a small heated funnel, and aniline dyes on eggshells that results in intricately layered patterns of color, geometry and two-dimensional line on a three-dimensional surface.

Starting with the lightest color (usually the white of the eggshell itself), I cover with wax all the areas that should remain white. Then I dye the egg the next darkest color, usually yellow or gold, and repeat the waxing process, covering all the areas that I want to remain yellow. I continue with the process, using progressively darker dye colors until I reach the final background color. After I have completed all the steps, I remove the wax by heating the egg in the oven at a low heat to soften the wax and wipe with a towel to reveal the design hidden…

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  • Female
  • Joined February 27, 2010

Favorite materials

Eggshells, beeswax, aniline dyes, ink, paper, paint, adhesives, clay and fabric

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About

I create my artwork using a centuries-old technique called Pysanky (the name comes from the Ukrainian verb “to write.”) This is a batik process using beeswax, a small heated funnel, and aniline dyes on eggshells that results in intricately layered patterns of color, geometry and two-dimensional line on a three-dimensional surface.

Starting with the lightest color (usually the white of the eggshell itself), I cover with wax all the areas that should remain white. Then I dye the egg the next darkest color, usually yellow or gold, and repeat the waxing process, covering all the areas that I want to remain yellow. I continue with the process, using progressively darker dye colors until I reach the final background color. After I have completed all the steps, I remove the wax by heating the egg in the oven at a low heat to soften the wax and wipe with a towel to reveal the design hidden underneath. Finally, I coat the egg with at least two layers of a fine art quality UV protection varnish.

I combine elements of traditional Pysanky design, Japanese textile patterns, Aboriginal forms, Middle Eastern decorative motifs, and modern forms and sensibilities. The challenge is to loosen or even set free the pattern from the traditionally rigid framework without losing the rhythm that gives it life and grace of form. All this must happen within the enclosed frame of the eggshell without feeling cramped or limited in scope.

I believe that the art forms of the past can teach us patience, explore culture and forgotten beliefs, and communicate what is otherwise easily overlooked. With my Pysanky, I hope to not only keep the technique alive, but also the meditative and spiritual aspect that is necessary to create and view such an art form, an exercise for both the artist and the viewer. Using traditional symbols and techniques combined with my own more contemporary ideas, I hope to combine past and present in a heterogeneous and lively form.

My grandmother Marie taught me this ancient art in my childhood and I have been writing on eggs ever since. I live in Austin, Texas with my lovely and amazing family and a great old dog named Hobbs.

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