Care to help keep evil at bay?

Care to help keep evil at bay?

The Ukrainian Cultural Association of Ohio Inc. has got a workshop for you.

The nonprofit organization, founded in Columbus in 1983, will host an event to teach people the ancient art of pysanka, or Ukrainian Easter egg, on Saturday, March 10, at the Minerva Park Community Building, 2829 Minerva Lake Road. It will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and the fees start at $20.

"Each participant should be able to complete at least one pysanka by the end of the session," according to Marianna Klochko, an associate professor of sociology and native of Ukraine who will be one of the instructors.

"Because the process requires working with an open flame, participants must be at least 8 years old, and all minors must be accompanied by an adult for the duration of the workshop," she said.

Depending on how many people participate and how many of them actually do complete an egg employing the batik method of applying intricate, multi-colored geometric and floral designs to eggshells, that could be a lot of warding off evil.

"Among Ukrainians, there is a belief that the fate of the world depends upon pysanky," according to the website of Surma, the Ukrainian Shop in New York City. "As long as egg-decorating continues, the world will exist. Should the custom cease, evil in the guise of an ancient, vicious monster chained to a huge cliff, will encompass the world and destroy it."

According to the website information, monsters circle the globe each year keeping record of the number of pysanky made. Too few, and the monster's chains loosen, allowing evil to flow through the world. If there are many, the monster's chains hold taut, "allowing love to conquer evil."

Of course, participants at the March 10 workshop could want just to produce something pretty.

The technique for making pysanka, which dates to around 988 A.D., according to Klochko, is preserved in the villages of Ukraine.

A third-generation city-dweller, Klochko said she never tried her hand at pysanka until she asked a member of the Ukrainian Cultural Association of Ohio to teach her.

"I never had actually done it myself," said Klochko, who earned her undergraduate and master's degrees in her native land before moving to this country to study for her Ph.D. at Cornell University.

"Native instructors will lead participants in the proper and safe use of beeswax, stylus, dyes and candles to create the designs," Klochko wrote in announcing the workshop.

"It's important to have a steady hand because you're working with things you can't necessarily erase," she said in an interview.

About 40 people can be accommodated comfortably in the community center building for the workshop, according to Klochko. An experienced pysanka artist will be stationed at each table to help guide participants through the process of applying wax, dying the shell, applying wax on a different part of the shell and dying it again.

"It's basically step by step," said Klochko, who has been doing pysanka since 2005.

The workshop, now in its second year, serves to preserve an aspect of Ukrainian culture for members of the sponsoring nonprofit group.

"The other parameter is to make Ukrainian culture and the beauty of it known to others," Klochko said. "There are obviously many people who don't know much about Ukrainian culture, so this is one way to educate people."

Displays about other aspects of Ukrainian culture and history will also be in the community center on March 10.

As for what people who create a pysanka might want to do with the eggs once they're decorated, Klochko said there are two approaches. The first is to just leave things as they are. After about 10 years, the yolk and white inside will have dried up to practically nothing.

"God forbid you break it because it's going to stink to high heaven," she warned.

The other method is to drill a tiny hole in the shell and remove the insides with a syringe of some sort. The hole can be plugged with wax and the pysanka can then be used to decorate a Christmas tree.

For more information, contact Klochko at or (740) 417-3131.

The deadline for signing up is Monday, March 5.