For holiday shoppers who think outside the big-box stores, there's Winter Arts, the annual sale featuring the works of some 30 area artists. There are paintings, sculptures, woodworking, jewelry, glassworks, and on and on — pieces that are unique and meant to be treasured. Among those treasures are the Pysanky eggs by Ansley Larsson. The creation of these beautifully intricate objects follows a centuries-old art form using a stylus to write designs with wax that are then filled out with a color wash. Larsson's eggs at Winter Arts range from $20 for a quail-egg ornament with a simple two-color design to $1,200 for an etched ostrich egg. Larsson recently answered some questions about her work.
Flyer: How did you get into Pysanky Writing?
Ansley Larsson: In 1980, I saw a demonstration of Pysanky Writing and was fascinated. I bought all the books and supplies and went home to teach myself how to do it. I've been doing it ever since.
How long does each piece take?
That question is impossible for me to answer. Some pieces take mere hours, but some take days and even weeks. I have done whole ostrich eggs that have taken two to three weeks and some of the quail eggs have taken only a couple of hours.
In addition to the eggs, you've recently started making jewelry. What sort of pieces do you make?
Right now, I only make earrings and pendants, but I'm working toward pins, too. I am new at jewelry making, so I am still learning.
The eggs have all sorts of symbolism and superstitions associated with them. What's your take?
Pysanky Writing originated well over 2,000 years ago. That was a very superstitious time and the traditional designs incorporate many superstitious symbols. I sometimes incorporate those symbols in my designs but only out of respect for the history and tradition of the art. I'm not particularly superstitious, although I did pick up a penny off the ground the other day.
Winter Arts at the Shops of Saddle Creek South in Germantown, through December 24th. winterartsmemphis.com