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KRASLICE

FROM GRANDMOTHER'S CHEST

Kraslice-decorated Easter eggs are the main decorative element of the Easter season. We decorate them in all the different ways we can think of. How did our grandparents decorate their Easter eggs? In each part of Slovakia they used certain technique to decorate the Easter eggs. It was mainly waxing, batik, etching, scratching, pasting, wiring and to lesser extend also making wooden eggs, blowing eggs from glass and sheathing.
In most cases the egg white and egg yolk were blown out from egg and only the shell was decorated. First we submerge the empty eggs in a mixture of water and little bit of vinegar for about five minutes. After that we blow the excess water out from the shell and we dry them thoroughly.

WAXING technique is not too common, but it is very impressive: we melt the bees wax in a small container over a lit candle, as it needs to have a constant temperature while applying. Bees wax can be colored with aniline colors or we can also melt some wax crayons directly. The ornamental elements are created with the help of a pin with round head pinned to a chopstick or a pencil. This technique was widely used in northeastern part of Slovakia. These days can be also found in villages around Prievidza and Bratislava.

BATIK is the most used technique. Patterns are created with a pin or a small tube. After that boiling or just dipping in the color solution dyes the egg. After that the egg is warmed up and the wax is wiped off with a soft cloth and the white ornaments appear on the single colored ground. After the color sets dry, another layer of the wax can be applied on the latest color coating to prevent the areas under color from being colored again. This procedure is repeated several times, starting with the lightest color and continuing to the darkest one.

ETCHING was used mainly in the regions characteristic with rich embroideries and wall paintings. This technique isnít used very wide. Vinegar or juice from sauerkraut would be applied to colored egg with a match, pen, or a guill-pen as the traditional etching agent. Later on they started to use nitric acid or hydrochloric acid. Kraslice made by etching were always just one color.

SCRATCHING was used from the second half of the 19th century. Ornamental motive patterns in the form of tiny sticks are scratched on colored egg with the help of a point of knife, razor, file, and needle or with an awl. This technique was used in the western part of Slovakia, now it is mainly used in villages near Poprad and Povazska Bystrica.

PASTING was spread at the end of the 19th century mainly in the vicinities of towns. Rush, barley or oat straws, textiles, wool, or yam were pasted on egg with the help of thin dough, glue, or starch. White rush-pulp or swamp grass was pasted in spirals on egg Rush was combined with colorful laces, embroidery yarn, or with a floral design textile. Dipping the rush in color solution made dyed rush and it was used mostly in the Kysuce region and in western Slovakia. White rush was used mostly in the Trencin district. In Vajnory near Bratislava dyed wool textile of pulp of grass were pasted on eggs to give them shape of a bird. Its head was made from dough and fixed to a hole made in the eggshell, wings and tail were made from paper with folds. Decorating with straw was used at first only in western part of Slovakia. Now the technique is also used in districts of Prievidza and Galanta.

WIRING was a technique used in the firs half of the 20th century and it has come back recently. It wasn't very widespread. The eggs decorated with wire were common in the northern and eastern part of Slovakia where the people were engaged in wirework. Smith journeymen showed their skills in hand forging the eggs with wire in shapes of hearts, lines, horseshoes, etc. Kraslice decorated with wire were found in the regions of Hont, Novohrad and Gemer, localities where many blacksmiths worked.

EGGS FROM WOOD were made by skilled craftsmen in some regions (Bardejov).

KRASLICE FROM GLASS are made by means of blowpipe were made mainly in the regions with glass-works such as Lucnec, Lednicke Rovne and surrounding areas. Kraslice from glass can now only be seen in the museums and aren't made anymore.


GO TO EASTER TRADITIONS

GO TO FOLK CUSTOMS

Bibliography: Slovenske Kraslice, Adam and Elena Pranda, Vvdavatelstvo Osveta. 1994 ISBN 80-217-0264-9

Published in the Slovak Heritage Live newsletter Volume 7, No. 1, Spring 1999
Copyright © Vladimir Linder 1999 
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced, republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic, without the express written permission of Vladimir Linder. All rights reserved.