Ukranian Easter egg decorating kit

Object Number: 
ca. 1957-1980
Cardboard, paper, dyes, plastic, waxes, metal
Overall: 1 5/8 × 12 × 9 in. (4.1 × 30.5 × 22.9 cm)

Rectangular box printed in brown-gold on light blue-green background; cover shows 24 Ukranian Easter egg (pysanky) designs; central rectangle contains oval band with folk motifs of birds and branches and text "Ukranian/ EASTER EGG/ DECORATING/ KIT/ SLAVKA STUDIO/ NEW YORK"; text below rectangle: "SURMA/ 11 EAST 7TH STREET/ NEW YORK, N. Y. 10003"; box interior holds six small envelopes containing dyes (yellow, orange, bright red, dark red, blue, black) and setting powder, instruction booklet, stylus with plastic handle, metal wire egg dipper, wide rubber band, two small white candles, small cake of beeswax, and four color cards each printed with six egg designs.

Gallery Label: 

For nearly a century, Surma Books & Music Co. was a cultural hub for New York City’s Ukrainian immigrant centered community in the East Village, also known as Little Ukraine. Until its recent closure, the store had been located at 11 East Seventh Street since 1943.

Myron Surmach Sr., its founder, arrived at Ellis Island from the Ukraine in 1910. He settled in New York City after working various odd jobs in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Joining a Czech gymnastics group prompted him to open his shop in 1918 to sell gym clothing and Ukrainian books. It evolved into a general store, selling phonographs and washing machines, but Surmach also offered services such as letter reading. Surmach had sold pysanky, or Ukranian Easter eggs, since 1921, but his daughter, the artist Yaroslava Surmach Mills (1925–2009), further promoted the traditional resist-dyeing craft by developing specialized egg-dyeing kits in 1957. The kit contains a stylus, six dye colors, setting powder, waxes, a dipper, color design cards, and an instruction booklet illustrated by Mills.

Credit Line: 
Gift of the Surmach Family
Place Made: 
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group