Slava Duspiva doesn't suffer fools gladly — mostly because they keep breaking his eggs.
Each "kraslice" can take over half an hour to make, Duspiva said, and at least one of the delicate, ornate Czech Easter eggs are broken every day while he sells them in Union Square.
"They're just looking and touching everything," the 47-year-old egg artist said of non-paying passersby, who are sometimes guilty of cracking his kraslice. "Go home, touch your husband, touch your sister."
Despite his prickly demeanor, Duspiva's eggs are among the more popular works of art sold in Union Square. Covered in baskets filled with kraslice of all designs and colors, his table also features signs kindly asking people to control their children and to please not touch the eggs.
Though accidents happen, the organic eggs Duspiva uses for kraslice are more durable, he said. Shipped from the Czech Republic, the pre-blown eggs are decorated by Duspiva and others with a wax-resist or "batik" and a variety of tools at a studio in upstate New York before they are sold worldwide.
"This is a tradition - lost art," Duspiva said. "I do this art for people."
The Czech eggs were traditionally decorated by girls and given to boys on Easter, but Duspiva said they can also be used to represent new life. He sells them in Union Square in the weeks before Christmas as well as Easter.
Duspiva's grandmother taught him how to make kraslice when he was a boy in the Czech Republic, where he emigrated from six years ago. He now lives in Brooklyn and hopes to one day open a museum devoted to kraslice - partially so his precious eggs can be protected by glass.
"I would like to introduce this to people around the world," Duspiva said.
On a recent afternoon, a tourist stopped by Duspiva's table and began to touch the surface of an egg, one from his favorite batch.
"See!" he said, exasperated. The woman, seemingly unaware of his dismissive scoffs, purchased the egg.
"It won't break in the airplane?" she asked.
"If you don't sit on them," Duspiva replied with a grunt, carefully placing the egg in a box.
Where to find the eggs
The kraslice, at $10 an egg and up, can be found on Duspiva's website, Facebook or Etsy. They can also be found at Duspiva's table in Union Square in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas and Easter. (But don't touch them!)
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