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Mask Up #6


Mask Up, We’re Living History!

Showcase your family’s resilience with this acid-etched brown eggshell pysanka. Its symbolism shaped to highlight themes of protection from harm, finding abundance and sweetness, but with stunning twists.

The appearance of insects on a pysanka ordinarily denotes a bountiful harvest–but the insects depicted here are cicadas, except for one bee, representing abundance and sweetness. This gives it a unique reminder of the year’s bittersweet challenges, and once-in-a-lifetime events that we could not help but bear witness to. The top mask is filled with rams horns curled in spiral twists–indicating Wisdom, Leadership, and Protection. This egg has a minimalist, neutral look, with the bare eggshell’s warm tones fading to a pale fawn, contrasting with the wax-resist and acid-etched shell creating tactile lines, intricate and delicate. This egg has no dye colors to fade, however we recommend keeping handling to a minimum, as the varnish will add some durability, but not enough to cope with frequent handling and rubbing. 

Acid-etching is one of the oldest techniques for decorating eggs, along with scratching. It can be done with many household materials, and to a variety of effects. However its core process is the same: a strong acid removing parts of the shell not protected by beeswax. This corrosive effect is quite visual and striking, and even a metaphor for the permanent choices we make in life, and the ones that are forced on us. For that reason, acid-etched eggs may hold a particular meaning for those who have suffered during the Pandemic, struggling for necessities and hoping for abundance, while facing deadly or disabling risks, and fearing whether they could protect their loved ones.  This egg offers a sense of serenity, and yet chaos, with teeming life both creepy and necessary to food production, and airy, head-in-the-clouds desire for order, and wisdom, and a wiser being that requires new patterns and ways of thinking.

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For centuries, people have used the art of pysanka to document life cycle events, or well wishes for loved ones. In keeping with this talismanic intent, Nolie Marie Wilson designed the “Mask Up” psanky series, to enable people to contextualize their own family’s experiences during the Covid-19 Pandemic with larger historical events, and offer wishes for the future, or talk about continuing fears.

Cunningly designed to adapt a traditional pysanky division (method of laying out large spaces on the egg to be filled with smaller patterns or shapes) into stylized facial masks, each of the two masks and backdrop dimensionally laid out on the egg is filled with modern motifs based on traditional Pysanky symbolism designed to describe various aspects of the things people have endured during the Covid-19 Pandemic, or wishes for the future. With the eggs designed to be both exquisite, one-of-a-kind conversation starters, and therapeutic tools to enable families to discuss painful topics with young children, such as which memories are most important, and which emotions left the deepest impressions on them, it is Nolie’s hope that whether you aim to acquire your Mask Up egg from the ready-made collection based on symbolism they combined in awareness of many of their own loved ones’ paths during the Pandemic, or whether you are seeking to acquire a custom-made Mask Up psanka with further customization, perhaps a loved one’s birthday or Yahrzeit worked into the designwork, these eggs will foster a sense of peace, perspective, history, and understanding among those you share it with. Mask Up Psanky are available as hanging ornaments, with the drain hole on top covered by the ornament mounting, or as a stand egg, with the drain hole on the bottom, where it will be concealed by the stand. They will be shipped with either a protective varnish finish, or a UV resistant, impact-resistant, resin coating ($35 extra per psanka, and requires additional time to prepare the pysanka for shipping, so that resin can be cured.) Each ready-made egg will state in the description which type of egg construction it is; where the drain hole is placed, if it has already been mounted on hardware for hanging, if it may have structural flaws that make it more likely to crack during curing if a resin topcoat is added. Please be sure you are aware of this when ordering, as well as the necessity of requesting the resin coating as an add-on, as we cannot accept returns, owing to the highly fragile and unique nature of the pysanky. It simply would not be possible to produce ready-to-ship variants of every display construction, every durability finish, without drastically reducing the options available to pick from. If a particular display method is more convenient for you, it still may be possible to adapt the egg to suit it, mounting an ornament top, in addition to a covered drainage hole on the bottom, for instance.

Each psanky egg comes packaged with material explaining the symbolism in the designwork of the series, so that you can see how many motifs you can spot in your egg’s minute details, some so fine that they require application under a magnifying glass for precision. While each egg is priced based on the amount of time and colorwork that goes into it, they are aimed to include a variety of price levels across restocks. Not included: Your display stand of choice. The one in the picture is this one, from Amazon. Affiliate links may be used. We suggest applying a tacky wax designed for use with pysanky eggshells, to aid in gripping the egg, if your area of display is one that may have heavy traffic, such as a low table, instead of a raised shelf. If you do not see a Mask Up egg with your story in mind, please visit the Custom Ordering FAQ for information about what questions to ask, inspiration to send, when contacting Nolie about a potential custom order.


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