Lifelong Learning sat down with instructor Ingrid Hersman to learn more about the craft of Eastern European Egg Dyeing. Ingrid will be teaching this technique in the upcoming class: Traditional Eastern European Egg Dyeing for Holiday Decor, in partnership with Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts.
LL: Hi Ingrid, please tell us a little bit about yourself:
IH: I am a native born Berliner raised in Germany before immigrating to the US as a teenager. My grandparents herald from what is now Poland. I am a folk artist, and I also teach children to play piano and organ via the Suzuki philosophy and assist adults with German family history research and translation.I always look forward to Living Traditions Festival in May where the community of Utah comes together and shares the traditions of their ancestors and heritage.
LL: What is the history of Eastern European Egg Dyeing?
IH: Spring has been celebrated with dyed eggs long before Easter came to be. Hun graves that are over 3000 years old have been found with eggs heavily waxed and dyed with natural dyes to honor those passed on. As Christianity came to the land many of the customs were transitioned to give life and celebrations new meaning. People recognize this method of wax resist by the term “Ukrainian Eggs”, although this same technique is practiced throughout central and eastern Europe.
LL: What first got you interested in this tradition?
IH: Every spring, weeks before Easter my mother would gather twigs of forsythia bushes as well as other greens and bring them into the house so they would sprout and bloom in time for the holiday. All the while we would paint or dye emptied eggs hanging them on the branches, bringing cheer into our home.
LL: What’s the process for you when you’re working with the eggs?
IH: The technique itself is a form of batik, wax resist. Designs are drawn onto the egg with melted wax then dipped into the dye, dried then the wax melted off. Where the wax was the surface stayed white. When using many colors this process gets repeated, wax, dye, wax, dye, wax, dye with the wax being removed only at the very end
LL: What drew you towards teaching?
IH: I love to see people learn something new they did not think they could do – especially working on a curved surface! Many of my students have made this a new family tradition in their own home and some even discovered that their ancestors came from some of the very regions their designs represent.
LL: Do you have any exciting future projects or developments you’d like to share?
IH: An exciting upcoming prospect is to teach this at the Utah State prison and half way houses to give a different perspective, light and hope.
Thank you Ingrid! We’ll look forward to seeing the beautiful eggs your students make in class.
Would you like to learn European Egg Dyeing a new family tradition? Enroll for Ingrid’s class here: Traditional Eastern European Egg Dyeing for Holiday Decor