Wycinanki in Miniature: Wydmuszki


Madalyn Joyce

Wycinanki in Miniature: Wydmuszki

In Poland, miniature egg pitchers are used at Christmas. They are either painted with regional Wycinanki designs or decorated with glued-on miniature papercuts. These are often the work of gifted amateurs and take hours to complete. Materials needed:


First remove the contents of at least six eggs. This entails piercing the ends of a raw egg with a large needle or small kitchen skewer and blowing the contents out through the larger of the t~o holes. This is easier to accomplish if you shake the egg vigorously after you have removed some of the eggwhite, thus breaking the yolk.

The empty egg is first decorated around its middle. Remember that the surface you have to work with is limited, and a single painted design or papercut can be at most one or one-and-a-half inches across.

Decorate the first egg with watercolor paints. If the eggshell resists the paint, rub your paint brush on a cake of soap as you work. Try center flowers, flanked by a few colorful leaves in several colors, making a similar design centered on each side of the egg. The finished egg will have a pitcher beak on one side and a handle on the opposite side, so make two equal sized designs which will take into account these protrusions. After painting the center floral patterns, try two narrow bands ofscallops above the design and one band of saw teeth in a third color below the flowers (see fig.**** ).

For a second egg, try a similar design of cut paper. Glue this tiny papercut on a band of pale blue pape.~ about one-and-a-half inches wide. Once the cutout is glued to the blue band, the whole band can be glued to the egg. Try placing a strip of red paper under the blue band at the top, and a strip of bright green at the bottom, as illustrated (fig.**** ). Your band design should now measure no more than one-and three-fourths inches.

A third egg will use a papercut bird and flower, on each side, glued with great care directly to the egg and arranged, if necessary, with tweezers. Below these decorations, try repeat garlands of magenta in a narrow band. At intervals glue tiny blue or green tear-shaped touches. Above the birds, place two narrow red "S" shaped scroll cutouts (see fig.**** ).

The last three eggs will be decorated with polymer transparencies. First paint a small design with colored, waterproof ink on white wrapping paper or a paper bag. You must use waterproof ink or the colors will run when you make the transparencies. ~ake a total of six designs, one for each side of three eggs.

With a small scissors, cut out each entire decoration, leaving a small tab on one end of each, for handling. You will later cut these tabs off when you have adhered the transparencies to the eggs. Now place the designs on wax paper and coat them with transfer liquid (polymer). For the first coat, use a small brush in one direction only, i.e., either up and down or from side to side. After ten minutes, apply a second coat using the brush in the opposite direction. Continue these coats of polymer until you have six or eight in all. Let the transfers dry completely overnight.

Next, place the designs in a shallow pan of room temperature water, watching them closely. After a few minutes, take them out of the bath and place them face down on a fine smooth surface such as a kitchen counter. Gently rub away the paper on the back. This should not take long. Be sure to rub and peel off all of the backing paper. If you have great difficulty removing the paper, submerge the designs again very briefly, and try again. Be careful not to stretch the transparencies, which are very thin and flexible. One at a time, coat each of the three previously prepared eggs with polymer, using a brush. Then coat each papercut back sparingly. Carefully mount the design on the egg, centering it and smoothing out any bubbles that may form. If necessary, prick bubbles with a pin and press out the trapped air.

The goal is to make these eggs into pitchers with stately slender necks and Slavic dignity. The diagram (fig.****) shows bands of oak~tag and colored paper which are used for this. The oaktag bands should be three-fourths of an inch wide, with band A two-and-a-half and band B three-and-a-half in)ahes long. Band A of the colored paper should be one-and-a-half inches wide and two-and-a-half inches long, while band B of the-colored paper should be three-and-a-half-inches long and one-and- a-half inches wide.

The oak tag bands A and B are glued to the upper edges of the colored paper bands A and B, respectively. Band A--has slits cut in-one horizontal edge as shown (fig.****). These slits are at least one-half inch deep. Band B has similar slits which are slightly deeper.

For the neck of the pitcher, coil band A around a dowel or a test tube or similar cylinder, and glue the ends, overlapping sl~ghtly. Shape the base band around a somewhat larger cylinder and glue it in the same way. The neck should be embellished wfth an oak tag beak (see fig. shaped as shown and scored before folding. Adhere the beak to the inside of the nec~ wft~~t~atri~-cf~tt~~.~Decorate--the outside-of the beak as suggested in diagram -~ - Next, - ~attach a- narrow strip of oak tag as a handle. Note;thatthes~tt-~~~~flaps of bands A and B suggest scalTh~s or flower petals. These are glued in place, and the egg pitcher is now complete. Needless to say, you will become more skilled at this delicate art with practice. Another variation of the egg pitcher uses a large styrofoam egg, sized with spackling compound. These decorated eggs can be used as lovely Christmas centerpieces. To pres-erve the surface of both the styrofoam and the natural egg creations, spray them well with clear protective lacquer, which will also impart a slight sheen.

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Edited by Sheldon Brown and Arlene Eskilson

updated Monday, November 10, 1997
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URL: http://sheldonbrown.org/joyce/wyc-wydzmuski.html
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