Taking decorating Easter eggs to a new level, Chuck and Joan Jackson have become experts in the art of making a pysanka, which is a Ukrainian Easter egg.
A pysanka is created using traditional Ukrainian folk designs with a wax-resist method. The word pysanka comes from the verb pysaty, which means to write or inscribe, as the designs are not painted on, but instead written with beeswax.
Joan said it was originally her family that got into the tradition. She said while she was in college her father, serving as a surgeon in Minneapolis, had helped a Ukrainian woman who then repaid him with the gift of three decorated eggs.
Joan said two of the eggs ended up exploding and her father, feeling bad, went back to the Ukrainian woman.
“I thought he was just going to talk to her and get more eggs,” she said. “Instead, he had learned how to make them, and it started.”
Chuck said he got into them when he was dating Joan and had come to meet her family. When her father asked if he wanted to try it, he accepted the challenge.
“Here I was dating his daughter and wanted to impress my future father-in-law,” Chuck said. “Of course I agreed to try it.”
Learning the art has turned into decades of memories and fun for the couple. As residents of the Vi Senior Living community in Highlands Ranch, they have gladly taught others how to use the wax, candle and create a variety of colors and designs. Besides Vi residents, the Jacksons have taught at churches and schools.
The Jacksons have a large collection of their own artwork, ranging from designs on traditional chicken eggs to decorations on large Ostrich eggs.
Chuck became so talented at designing Ukrainian eggs that his design was featured at the White House in 1999. Then first lady, Hillary Clinton, wanted to have a specially designed egg from every state to decorate that Easter.
Chuck said he was asked by the American Egg Board to submit a design. His egg was chosen for the State of Colorado display.
Chuck said he and Joan received tickets to visit the White House for the special event. Today, Chuck said he is not sure what happened to the egg, guessing it is either buried in the depths of the Smithsonian or somewhere in the Clinton Library.
After decades of work, the Jacksons say they still sit in the evenings designing eggs. Joan said while she has good skills, it is Chuck who has really taken them to higher levels with detailed artwork and vibrant colors.
Depending on the design and colors, creating a Ukrainian egg can take hours or weeks.