Painting eggshells might be a staple craft activity in many family households this time of year, but for a small community in the town of Romania’s Ciocanesti, it’s much more. Elena Craclunescu, a 42 year-old woman who’s spent her whole life there, was recently the subject of The Egg Painter, a short film produced by the National Geographic, profiling her exquisite skills in the ancient art of egg painting.
Akin to batik, Elena uses an iron-dipped stick called a “kishitze” to paint intricate designs on her eggs in pure beeswax. Between three different stages of dipping the eggs in pools of dye, Elena adds more and more detail to each layer, heating up the egg and wiping it down afterwards. Only then is the final artwork revealed in its astounding level of detail.
Part of a tightly kit community of egg painters in Ciocanesti, this skill was passed down to Elena from her grandmother, and her grandmother before her. Since the age of 15 she has painted 600-700 eggs a year, and now her own children do the same. “When I sit down to paint eggs,” she says, “I forget about everyone and everything.”
Inspired by the motifs on local houses and traditional Romanian costumes, this craft not only provides a livelihood for families like Elena’s, but it offers respite from the daily stresses of life, along with a close connection to family heritage. To all of our readers we wish the exact same this Easter holiday, so happy Easter from Selvedge!