It’s been a few years since I pulled the boxes of Easter decorations out of the attic. Among the bunnies and a few misc. decorations are egg boxes filled with colored eggs. Full of personal history, delightful whimsy, and beautiful colors, many of the eggs have become very fragile over the years. Some, already cracked or broken, are still carefully tucked into the boxes, too precious to part with.
Eggs seem to hold within their ovoid shape a magic that has captured human fascination forever. Books and the internet are full of stunningly bejeweled, intricately painted, and carefully carved eggs. I share with you some of my more humble collection.
A basket filled with an assortment of dyed eggs. Decades of raising bantam chickens and Muscovy ducks gave me an abundance of eggs to ‘play’ with, using natural dyes, food coloring, oil dyes, and various techniques for decorating them.
Growing up I was enchanted by the few ‘window eggs’ we had. I found the large, hard-shelled Muscovy eggs perfect for my own creations.
Though Paulie Rollins, a remarkable, talented artist who lived in Quilcene, raised many breeds of poultry herself, she would take all the duck eggs I would give her. In trade she gave me a few of her beautifully hand painted eggs. Sadly, a few have broken, including the little forget-me-not egg in the lower right corner. I met Paulie through her daughters’ involvement in Girl Scouts. She moved away, but recently I found she has a web site of her beautiful art. http://paulierollinsart.blogspot.com/
In 1987 I traveled to Sweden and Germany to visit friends in each place who I had met when they were traveling in the USA. I wanted to be in Germany during the Easter season because many of our Easter traditions have Germanic origins. Spending the Easter holidays with my friend Shiva in Nuremberg was a memorable experience. Previous to the holiday we traveled throughout Bavaria. Many towns had a town square with an Easter egg tree. Nuremberg is famous for it’s Ostermarkt (Easter Market), a huge market in the town square with vendors selling many crafts (and some non-crafts). I was so enchanted, I kept going back to the market to buy more eggs, each in it’s own individual box. Like most the eggs at the market, the ones pictured are from Yugoslavia. When I flew home I carried on the plane a basket full of two dozen hand painted eggs, many of which I gave away. Here are a few of them. There is more I could share about my Easter in Germany, a culture rich in both sacred and folk traditions. I did adopt the tradition of making a small Easter tree inside each year. Not this year, so no pictures.
This cute little lamb reminds me of another German Easter tradition, a lamb cake. The cake Shiva made was simply and traditionally decorated with powdered sugar, and of course scrumptious!
My good friend Terra painted for me the lovely egg pictured below probably 30 years ago, using the same techniques used by Ukrainian artists to paint eggs. It is not hollow, but rather left to dry, the yolk becoming like a rubber ball inside. This is how the intricately painted Ukrainian eggs are preserved, making an egg that will last for years and be less fragile than a hollowed egg. This egg sits in a special little clay bird’s nest made by Phoebe of Daily Bird Pottery.
When a chicken lays it’s first egg it is often small, sometimes as tiny as a songbird egg. Called a ‘pullet’ egg, because the hen is in her ‘pullet’ (think teen-ager) stage. I’ve saved many of these small eggs over the years. Some, too tiny to blow out, I let dry in the frig for a year before decorating. (The photo left shows a Muscovy duck egg, which is a little larger than a store bought “jumbo” egg, a small banty egg, and a tiny pullet egg compared to a quarter.) Below a small glass “basket”is full of dyed and un-dyed pullet eggs.
The two eggs in the upper left corner in the basket below were decorated when I was a child with dyes that ‘floated’ on the water. I always remembered doing these and loved the swirling rainbow effect. With my abundance of eggs to experiment with, one year I went looking for and found similar dyes and made a new ‘batch’. The new dyes were thick oils, they produced vivid colors and felt thick on the egg. I love the colors, but wish I could find the more muted rainbow dyes of my childhood that seemed to absorb into the shell.Speaking of old eggs! Here are some vintage paper eggs, also fragile with age. Remember these honey-combed paper eggs?
There is more I could write about Easter eggs, and eggs in general, but you might be egged-out by now! Though we no longer have hens laying eggs, there is a box full of duck eggs from a very broody duck, and a container of carefully dried and preserved little bantam eggs in the frig waiting for decorating magic!