MiVT: Shannon Wallis Designs
NORWICH, Vt. (WCAX) - Though Shannon Wallis of Norwich is not Ukrainian, she’s drawn to the art of Eastern European culture.
“I make eggs in the style of Ukrainian eggs, batik eggs. Any kind of design I can find, I will find a way to get it onto an egg,” Wallis said.
Pysanky or pysanka eggs are a three-decade passion for this former teacher. And lately, her work, Shannon Wallis Designs, feels a little “egg-stra” meaningful.
Pysanky eggs are written using beeswax and dye, no paint.
“The symbols that you’re writing on the egg mean something, and so you’re writing a story while you’re creating this egg,” Wallis explained.
The stories on the eggs can have all different meanings. What’s most important is that they’re being written at all.
“There’s an old legend from the Hutsul region of the western part of Ukraine in the Carpathian Mountains that says there’s a monster, like a serpent chained up in the mountains. And if there are people writing pysanky, his chains will tighten. And if there’s no one writing, his chains will loosen and he’ll be free to reign terror on the Earth,” Wallis said.
Despite being rich in tradition and lore, these stunning, geometric eggs are a traditional art that fell out of practice for a long time.
“The Ukrainians were actually restricted from doing it, they were forbidden to do it by the Soviets. And so it was actually the immigrants that said, ‘Oh, we need to keep this alive. This is our heritage,’” Wallis said.
While that’s not the case now, Wallis writes for people who can’t.
“I have had Ukrainian people that are in the middle of a war that have written back to me on social media that say thank you for writing this egg,” she said.
To try to help the most she can from half a world away, Wallis is donating 25% of her earnings from now through Easter to help the people in Ukraine, a small way to show support one egg at a time.
“Slava Ukraini, which is glory to Ukraine. It’s an old, old saying, and the response is Heroyam Slava, which is to the heroes, glory,” Wallis said.
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