David Bryniarski, a parishioner of Rochester’s St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, started painting eggs with his mother when he was just 5 or 6 years old. His mother had learned the technique from her mother, who hailed from Poland. In the intervening years he has painted hundreds of eggs, including many that he gives each year as Easter greetings to friends and family members.
The Polish word for the Easter egg is pisanka, which comes from the word pisac, meaning “to write.” And the intricate designs are literally written on the eggs by Bryniarski with a combination of molten beeswax and carbon black. The hot wax is applied using a fine writing stylus called a kistka. Eggs are then immersed in colored dyes, with the dyes only adhering to the unwaxed parts of the eggs. Bryniarski works from light dyes to dark as he “paints” the eggs, adding more wax designs as he goes. After the last dye has been applied, the eggs are held over an open flame to melt off the wax, revealing the multicolored patterns. A final clear varnish is usually applied to protect the eggs.
Bryniarski has helped keep this Old World tradition alive by teaching it to his children and by leading workshops coordinated by Rochester’s Polish Heritage Society, of which he is a member.
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