NEW BRITAIN – The Pulaski Club once again is offering a way for people to connect with their Polish heritage - by carrying on the centuries-old tradition of creating pisanki.
Two classes will be held at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. March 10 at the Pulaski Club at 89 Grove St., New Britain. The event is sponsored by the Polish American Foundation and instructor Debra Brodacki will guide participants in making the decorated Polish Easter eggs. No artistic ability is needed.
Brodacki said the technique behind making pisanki is similar to batik, which uses fabric.
“It is a wax resist, which means you draw on the egg with a tool filled with melted beeswax,” she said. “Once you draw on a pattern to the eggshell, you drop the egg into a dye. Whatever area that is under the wax will not take the dye. It resists/protects the eggshell from the dye color soaking in. You continue this process with as many colors or shades of colors as you wish the egg to have. You do not remove all wax till you are finished with your last and darkest dye color.”
Many pisanki are decorated with a variety of symbols, each with a meaning.c
“As far as symbols, you use religious symbols or ones from nature,” said Brodacki. “Rams, chickens, horse, deer, fish, flowers, bees, wheat, sun , and lines or bands which will ring the egg and be an endless line. An endless line symbolizes eternity. A ram represents perseverance. A willow is symbolic of Palm Sunday and wheat is symbolic of a good harvest.
“Colors also have meanings. Brown represents Mother Earth, yellow means youth and happiness, orange represents endurance, and purple represents fasting and faith. There are longer lists of colors and symbols that I share in handouts in class. I also include handouts with ideas and techniques and instruction for everyone to take home as well as the tool and wax to take with them to continue at home.”
Brodacki said classes they typically range from 25 to 30 participants. She encouraged people to come and try the class and connect with an old craft that she said is slipping away with the generations.
“It is a fun, relaxing and great family activity,” she said. “I’ve had children in class and even a gentleman in his 90s attend. Just put down your cell phone and enjoy yourself. Don’t expect perfection with your first egg, just have fun and be patient. Each egg is beautiful in its own way.”
Brodacki said that pisanki often vary by region, just as traditional Polish dress can. Traditionally, designs and coloring techniques were passed down from mother to daughter.
“Eggs were once a part of Polish pagan tradition and still symbolize spring, renewal, fertility and eternity,” she said. “The term pisanki has come to mean Easter eggs in general over the recent years. Strictly speaking, it refers only to those eggs decorated with the molten-wax technique. In Poland, a lot of their original symbolic meanings have been forgotten. They are now mainly used in the Easter religious festivities. The oldest known Polish pisanki date from the 10th century, but it is possible that eggs were decorated by Slavic people even earlier.”
Children as young as 8 are welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult.
Those who wish to participate must register by March 3, as class size is limited. There is a $20 material fee for non-members and a $15 fee for Polish American Foundation or Pulaski Club members. The fee includes all class supplies and wax and tools to take home.
To register, email PAFevents@yahoo.com.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.