What's a Pysanka Mosaic?
In the shortest definition possible, a Pysanka Mosaic is a hand made piece of art that is composed entirely of traditionally decorated broken egg shells known as Pysanka. The Pysanka is regarded as an ancient talisman with hidden narrative and powers – specific to their culture and origin. Many countries and ethnicities use their own techniques, incorporate their own designs, and even use different types of egg to conduct the Pysanka art. Our studio collects these works of art from different cultures, locations, and artists only to intentionally break them. Once we have broken the Pysanka, we re-piece them back together into contemporary works that can be appreciated and interpreted both in and outside of the Ukrainian culture.
The art form began with the late Ted Wasylyshen (husband, father, and grandfather to the current members of the studio). Being a proud Ukrainian-Canadian until his passing, he and his wife collected Pysanka from cultures and countries all around the world. Their collection kept growing and growing, and eventually became so established that it was toured throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. The collection was even featured in National Geographic. As their collection grew, Ted began to experiment with different ways to showcase his Pysanka. He experimented with the idea of carefully cutting them in half so he could frame them in professional displays. It was through this conception that gave birth to the idea of creating the Pysanka Mosaic. His initial trials were failures, occasionally breaking and shattering his Pysanka which left him with fragmented egg shells. Being as obsessed with his Pysanka as he was, Ted did not want to waste the shells and figured out a way to still use the pieces. Through trial and error, Ted realized that he can create unique compositions using fragmented egg shells in combination with whole ones that he would successfully cut. Together, he created the first of their kind, Pysanka Mosaic, and re-invented the traditional art form in his own way.
David (son to Ted) studied Ted’s art long after he had passed. Through his study, Dave realized his own process and developed his own technique to create and adapt the art to new forms and mediums. He began to incorporate glass and combine it with the traditional Pysanka art that Ted invented. Dave had a long-standing portfolio with both stained and slumped glass well before his adaptation of the pysanka works. Together, he found that the combination between glass and pysanka created a beautifully balanced composition of traditional, handwritten art in combination with contemporary fabrication and manipulation of glass. The result can be seen as an intricate medley of glass and pysanka, as if one melts into the other and appears as a singular, homogenous entity.
Having learnt from his father before him, Dave decided that Ted's art should continue to be passed down the Wasylyshen bloodline. He taught the techniques to both his mother, Evelyn, and his son, Derek, where they would bring forth their own adaptations of the art.
In the process of continuing the works, the studio soon realized that the possibilities were endless. As the studio was continually looking to incorporate new media, we began to incorporate new types of Pysanka. The traditional Ukrainian Pysanka primarily uses the chicken, or hen egg. However, there are rare occasions where artists instill their designs on various types of eggs that include the quail, goose and ostrich egg. Each of these Pysanka have their own narrative and meaning to which we love to incorporate whenever we can.
Photos by Norbert K. Iwan