Casey Dutton's Ukrainian eggs on display at library

NEIGHBORS

March 30, 1994|By PAT BRODOWSKI

Not all Easter eggs are for children.

For hundreds of years, a tradition of drawing colorful eggs has continued in Ukraine. Several dozen eggs, called pysanky, dyed in the Ukrainian manner, are on exhibit at the North Carroll Public Library in Greenmount until Friday.

Ukrainian eggs look painted, but the intricate leaves, flowers, animals and crosshatching are created by wax resist and layers of dye. At first, melted beeswax is drawn on the egg through a hollow brass tube called a kiska.

Then the egg is dipped in a rainbow of dyes, one at a time, light to dark.

Between dye baths, more wax is drawn on the egg. When the wax is finally wiped away, all the colors show. You can ask for instructions on the technique at the library information desk.

Casey Dutton made the eggs on display. She's not Ukrainian, except when it comes to pysanky. Mrs. Dutton, a 1971 graduate of North Carroll High School, became a biochemist and is raising a family in Mount Airy. She began teaching herself to make pysanky while she was in the Army in 1979.

She discovered a curious history behind the folk art.

"There were many traditional uses for these eggs," said Mrs. Dutton. "People would bury the eggs in their fields so they'd have a good crop. They'd put them in houses to fend off fire and flood. They'd bury them with people, I guess to provide luck in the afterlife. Girls would give them to their boyfriends. It was kind of a catch-all tradition. Any use was good."

"The eggs predate Christianity, so [creating them] is a tradition that's thousands of years old," she said. "Christian symbols came to be used on the eggs because Easter was celebrated [in spring]. The women would spend a lot of their time in winter and spring preparing the eggs and then have them blessed by the priests."

Patterns, designs and colors all have traditional meaning. Each new pysanka -- the singular of pysanky -- continues these traditions. Mrs. Dutton's simplest designs can be finished in half an hour. Other eggs can take four or five hours to complete.

She keeps the dyes from year to year. The eggs are kept for years, too. In Maryland, though, traditions can backfire.

"Traditionally, you use whole, raw eggs," said Mrs. Dutton. "Over the years, you end up with a pellet inside."

"But the temperature in this area is way too high," unlike the cool, dry Ukrainian climate, she said. "I had one egg that was five years old. And it exploded."

There wasn't any odor from that egg, she said, but her work was destroyed. Now she blows the eggshells clean before putting her designs on the shells.

"Part of the [Ukrainian] mythology is that, as the number of people who are able to make the eggs decreases, the amount of evil in the world increases," says Mrs. Dutton. "So I guess I'm doing my part to keep the evil of the world at bay."

She gives her eggs as gifts.

*

You'll probably see the Easter bunny, and colorful eggs hidden in the grass, and a child or two wearing balloons.

The occasion is the annual Lions Club Egg Hunt, which begins Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Lions Club Park in Hampstead. The park is at the end of Hillcrest Avenue.

If you're a child in second grade or younger and live in Hampstead, you're invited.

If it rains, the party will begin at Spring Garden Elementary School at 9:30 a.m.

Egg hunts are lots of fun for young children who find the eggs and parents who watch the adventure. Close to 1,000 plastic eggs, each with a piece of candy inside, will be scattered for Saturday's hunt.

Nine eggs will contain numbers for door prizes. If you find a lucky egg, the prize is yours, regardless of how many eggs you find.

Kathleen the Great will entertain during the hunt, performing a unique magic with balloons and children.

"She'll transform a person into a flower or a butterfly with balloons," said the Rev. John Smaligo, who's organized the egg hunt for two years. "If it rains, [she'll help] turn the egg hunt into a nice party."

With the Easter bunny roaming through the crowd, plan to bring your camera for a picture of your child meeting the favorite rabbit.

"Each child gets a treat" in addition to the eggs they find, Mr. Smaligo said.

The day's events are planned for small children, particularly the hidden eggs. "We hide them pretty easy," he said.

*

Tenebrae is a Medieval Latin word meaning "darkness." On Friday, this Medieval darkness will come to Snydersburg.

At St. Mark's United Church of Christ, 1616 Cape Horn Road, Good Friday will be observed with a Tenebrae service at 7 p.m. The service is a reading under gradually dimming lights, leading to the darkest hour in the Christian faith and total darkness in the church.

"This goes back to the Middle Ages, when [candles] were all the lighting there was," said the Rev. James Schwarzlose, the church pastor.

"During our Tenebrae service, we read the scriptures up to the Crucifixion, dimming lights, getting progressively darker, until it's very dark and everybody leaves," said Myrna Schwarzlose, the pastor's wife. "On Easter morning, the lights are back."

At St. Mark's, the joy returns Sunday with a sunrise Easter service at 7 a.m. As three members of the church read scriptures, 10 young people will silently act out the narration.

The congregation will enjoy an Easter breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and an outdoor egg hunt at 9:15 a.m.

"We use real eggs," Mrs. Schwarzlose said. "We're going to be dyeing them. It will be outdoors, unless there's snow on the ground."

If you miss the activities, you can view a floral celebration of the church's Easter service.

"We make a flowered cross," Mrs. Schwarzlose said. "[Everyone] brings mostly fresh flowers. and we put them on the cross and put it outside for the rest of the day."

Information: the Rev. James Schwarzlose, 848-1313.

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