Sunday, December 19, 2010

Queen of the Unfinished Projects

That's me, although I know I'm not the only one who wears this moniker.  In my university days, when I worked at a scrapbooking store, the ladies with whom I worked set aside one night a month for "Queen of the Unfinished Projects" night.  We all had a list of our unfinished projects, mostly craft projects, and we would hunker down in the workshop for chatting, food, and attempt to finish projects our list.  I came across my list the other day, and was chagrined to realize that many of those projects are still unfinished.  Unfinished... eight years later.  I also have piles of half-finished books, abandoned when the next book piqued my interest.  I don't know how many times I have started and abandoned Crime and Punishment.  I have half-finished quilts, scrapbooks, crochet and sewing projects stuffed into every space in my closet.
Instead of chastising myself or feeling discouraged about this character trait, I've decided to allow myself the freedom to be okay with being undisciplined with my leisure activities!  There is definitely value in finishing what one has started, but there's something to be said for giving yourself some freedom to be flighty.  There's no shame in never finishing Crime & Punishment, is there?  Would my crafting projects be as therapeutic if I forced myself to finish things that I didn't feel like doing anymore?  I'm running out of space to store these unfinished projects, however, and I don't want to end up on Hoarders someday, so I'd better finish at least some of them.  This is the time of year that I feel the most unfinished project guilt, probably because many of those unfinished projects were intended to be Christmas gifts.  I'm proud to say that I made and delivered or mailed most of my Christmas cards before Christmas this year, and I'm finally done all of my Christmas eggs.  I realize that I went completely overboard on making the eggs.  If you're wondering how I have time to do this, I don't.  I just have a messy house.  But everybody needs diversions now and then, right?
The design part is really the only fun part of the process, and, at the end, I realized that I had almost three dozen eggs to empty, and glue on ornament hangers.  Here are some of the finished products.  And, if you are still reading my blog after seeing the depths of my craft geekdom, may I offer my thanks and congratulations.

I thought I would post a brief tutorial on how these eggs are made in case you are curious.  And because it was a motivator for me to finish doing the boring part of the eggs to plan a little picture tutorial as I went along.
I learned how to make these eggs from my mother-in-law.  They are called pysanky, more commonly known as Ukrainian easter eggs.  The traditional ones look more like this (photo from wikipedia):

Using tools called "kistka," designs are written on the egg with melted beeswax.  The tools have metal funnels with different sized openings for the melted wax to flow through.  You hold the tool with the metal funnel in the flame until it heats up enough.  Then, you push some beeswax into the hot funnel, and hold it over the flame again until the wax is all melted.  You are now ready to draw on the egg with the melted wax.

After you put a design on the egg with the wax, you dunk the egg in a jar of dye, and whatever you have covered up with the wax will remain protected from the dye.  So, for example, if you start with a white egg, you would first draw anything on the egg that you want to remain white.   Then, you dip the egg in the yellow dye, pull it out and dry it off with a paper towel, then draw on any design that you want to stay yellow.  The dyes last a long time if you have a place to store them.  I've kept mine in the garage for four or five years now and only had to replace a couple of colours.

After you have completed your design with all the colours you are going to use, you can begin melting the wax off of the egg to reveal your design.  Some people do this step by placing the egg in an oven at a low temperature until the wax starts to get shiny and you can rub it off with a paper towel.  I've had a couple of eggs crack at this point using that method, so I usually melt the wax off with a candle flame.  You hold the egg beside the flame until the wax starts to shine and you can rub it off with a paper towel. Be careful not to hold the egg near the top of the flame, or you will get black charring on the egg.
Traditionally, the contents of the egg are not emptied out.  Eventually, the inside of the egg evaporates or dries up.  However, if breakage should occur before this drying out occurs, it is a smelly disaster.  Trust me.  A year old-ish egg on breaking on your living room floor is not pleasant.  I now empty the eggs out with this fancy blower.
You only have to poke one hole in the egg, and you don't have to put your mouth on the egg thanks to this little contraption.  Before blowing the egg out, draw a quarter-sized hole around the top of the egg with melted wax where you are going to poke the hole.  That way, any egg that leaks out won't make the dye run.  Like this:
I use a crochet pin to poke a few holes in the top of the egg until the hold is big enough for the blower.  Then you can either rest the eggs back in the carton, hole side up, for a couple of days to let the egg finish drying out.  Then you can melt the top circle of wax off as described before.  If you wish, you can attach a "finding" to the top to allow you to hang the egg as an ornament.  I ran out of findings this time, and they aren't usually stocked in craft stores in the middle of winter, so I tried glueing a bead to the top instead this time, and that works too.  Voila!  

1 comment:

  1. This made me smile - you are not alone in the unfinished department. Hmm, maybe we need to ressurect that group....


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