Ukrainian Design Book

Book 1

Author:  Natalie Perchyshyn, Luba Perchyshyn, Johanna Luciow, Ann Kmit

Edition:  1st

Format:  Large format softcover

Pages:  101          

Language:  English

Illustrations:   Many BW (color cover)

Publisher:  Ukrainian Gift Shop (Minneapolis, 1984)

Availability:  Yes, various

Acquired:  UGS

ISBN:  0-96025002-2-0

This book was the first of five (so far) Ukrainian Easter egg design books published by the Ukrainian Gift Shop.  It came out in 1984, and was quite unlike the books they had published before.  First, it was a paperback.  Second, it had simple black and white drawings instead, unlike the lush color photography of the previous books.  And last, it had one theme, and one theme only––writing pysanky.

This was not a book for beginners.  There were simple instructions, but a working knowledge of pysankarstvo was assumed.  Five of the six chapters were entitled Working Area, Essential Materials, Optional Materials, Basic Pencil Divisions, and Finishing the Eggs. Some were quite short, and all were mostly text.  They reviewed the basics (without drawings, for the most part), and imparted some new tips and tricks. But they weren’t the main attraction of this book.

A discussion of various types of styluses in Chapter 2

That was the other chapter, number five: How to Make Eggs # 1 through 24.  It included step by step instructions which were unlike any that had been published before.  Not only did they show where wax should be applied for each color, as had been common, but they included much more information.  There were explanations on how to divide the egg and how to pencil in the basic divisions and patterns. Suggestions were given for which stylus to use (heavy, medium or fine) in each step. Details of the top, bottom and sides were shown when needed. And, lastly, (diasporan) explanations were given of the symbols used.  

This pattern shows details of the front and sides of the pysanka

This book, and the ones that followed, raised the bar for pysanka design books. 

The patterns in this book are, for the most part, not meant for beginners.  There are a few less difficult ones, but most have a fairly significant degree of complexity, with several being rather difficult. The book is not useful for learning how to write pysanky, but it is quite useful for the pysanka artists wishing to improve their skills: not only will it help them to create complex and beautiful pysanky, but it will teach them how to analyze and break down complex patterns into their component parts, and to help them understand dye sequences.

The back cover of the book.  The pysanky picture on the cover are the

ones for which step-by-step instructions are provided in the book

The pysanky pictured on the cover and dissected in the book are, generally, diasporan (modern North American) patterns, and not traditional pysanka designs.  Most use traditional designs and motifs, and an modern example of a white pysanka is included (3rd row, 1st egg above). 

There are two novelty eggs as well.  One is a white egg which is meant to emulate the colors and designs of traditional Hutsul pottery (1st row, 3rd egg above).  The other depicts a young Ukrainian woman in traditional costume presenting a loaf of bread to her guests (5th row, 3rd egg above). 

NOTE: This and Design Book 2 are good value and quite useful for someone learning the craft.  They are not introductory books, though, and won’t replace a proper instruction book or lessons. Design Books 3 through 6 include basic tutorials and lots of tips and techniques. 

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