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Grade 6 girls in the early stages of making pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs). In the above photo, the girls are applying a wax design to their eggs using a special tool called a kistka.


Beginning on Monday, April 3, the students of IHMS participated in two different school wide craft projects. Both of these craft projects were a follow-up to the activities of Ukrainian Week. The two craft activities were:

  • Copper tooling
  • Pysanky and Krashynky


Copper Tooling


The students really enjoyed the copper tooling activity. The thin sheets of copper were fun to work with, and pressing a design from a stencil into the soft reddish-brown metal is relatively straight-forward and simple to do. All students from K-8 participated in this activity, with younger students working with simpler stencil designs and older students choosing a more complex design. The copper tooling craft was done in the classroom and was facilitated by the classroom teachers.

A good example of copper tooling is the image of Taras Shevchenko hanging above the photocopy machine in the school’s front foyer.
Taras Shevchenko


The first step in copper tooling is to place a stencil over a thin sheet of copper. Students then press a dull pencil over the outline of the stencil. Since a soft surface is needed to make an indentation in the copper, most students did this step on the classroom carpet.


 Grade 6 students working on the first step of copper tooling – indenting an image into the copper sheet.


After an image is indented onto the copper sheet, it’s sprayed with black paint. Once the paint dries, students rub the surface with a plastic scouring pad. This only removes paint from the higher areas of the image and gives the copper sheet a deeper and more textured look.


The final step in copper tooling was done by Mr. Fil, the school’s custodian, Mr. Fil very graciously offered to mount each student’s  copper sheet onto a piece of wood so that it can be hung and displayed on a wall. The copper tooling project for all students will be displayed on tables in the gym during Volunteer Appreciation Day on April 20th.


The finished product! An example of copper tooling from the grade 3 classroom



Pysanky and Krashynky


Last year, IHMS received a grant from the Manitoba Arts Council to fund a very unique cross cultural art program. The program, facilitated by local artists Natasha Halayda and Val Vint, explored the similarities between Ukrainian and Indigenous cultures. Natasha and Val highlighted common art forms between the two cultures such as geometric patterns and animal and floral symbols. The idea was to show how these art forms can create bridges of understanding and respect between the two cultures.


IHMS received a grant from the Manitoba Arts Council to employ the services of two local artists. The artists, shown in the top photo from left to right are Natasha Halayda and Val Vint. The bottom photo shows some of the naturally sourced dyes that they created for the pysanky and krashynky project.


The first session of the program took place last October when the students learned how to make naturally based dyes. These dyes were made from common food items such as red beets and the brightly yellow coloured spice turmeric. These dyes were then used by the students to make pysanky and krashynky (Ukrainian Easter eggs).


Grade 6 students applying a design to their eggs using a kistka


After a wax design is applied to the egg, it’s repeatedly immersed into various dyes to give it colour. Each time the egg is immersed into a dye, part of the egg is covered in wax. The parts of the egg covered in wax are protected from the dye, and the parts of the egg not covered by wax are stained by the dye.


In order to cover over previous dyes, the egg is immersed into progressively darker colours, with black being the last colour used. The wax is eventually melted off, and the parts of the egg not covered in wax are stained by the last dye used.


Grade 5 students dyeing their eggs with help from local artist and co-facilitator Natasha Halayda


When the wax is melted off after the last dye is applied, the decorated eggs are finished and ready to display.


The finished product – examples of pysanky from the grade 6 classroom



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