The Center of Traditional Technologies Příbor (CETRAT), a branch of the Museum of Novojičín, has dozens of Easter eggs that are a hundred or more years old. “Among them, eggs from Lichnov stand out for their uniqueness,” said CETRAT head Václav Michalička.
“It’s a waxed batik with archaic ornaments,” he outlined, noting that yellow, red and black colors are successively applied to the white eggs. “The red one is the most special, because it forms the so-called tins. Those are red spots, by which you can safely recognize Lichnov eggs,” he revealed, stating that he had only discovered similarly decorated eggs with spots in the Bukovina region of Ukraine.
Petra Vidomusová is trying to master a technique that probably no one has mastered today. “The base is melted wax. As it gets older and older, as it heats longer and longer, it turns black. Which is great, because the ornaments are easy to see on the white eggs,” she explained, pointing out that the eggs for painting must be raw and cold.
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To apply the wax, he uses a primitive tool called a spink, which the museum workers made. “It’s a coiled tube, made of a thin hammered sheet wrapped around a needle, which is simply attached with wire to a stick or pencil. When it is dipped in wax, because it is hollow, a little bit of wax remains inside, and by subsequent heating, light, longer and smoother strokes are made than with a pin,” she described.
When the ornaments on the white background are ready, the egg in the first pickle is colored yellow. And Vidomusová paints other motifs on yellow. “After drying, the egg is colored in a red pickle. Then no more wax sample is added, but molds are made. For this I need a piece of fabric wrapped around the end of a stick and I use the wax to make like stamps. After they dry, the egg is colored in a black pickle,” she said.
When the black egg is dry, it is heated over a flame and the spreading layer of wax is removed with a cloth. “You take it off and you get a basically black egg with yellow-red-white patterns,” outlined Vidomusová. According to Michalička, Lichnov’s eggs were always decorated with simple symbols meaning, for example, the sun, fertility, a rooster that chased away death by crowing. However, there is also a male and female figure, probably the motif of the bridegroom, a peacock or a horse.
It takes days to color the eggs with the Lichnov technique because the pickles are cold. And they are all dyed with the natural dyes of our ancestors. “For the red, they used hairdressing, which were wood shavings of fern, and for the yellow, dyer’s mulberry. But that was the name of the time and now it’s called something else, so we had to recognize what it was again. And for the black color, there was wood from campeška,” Michalička explained the alchemy with colors.
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