I love all types of decorative eggs. You could say I’m eggstatic about them just like “Egghead” from Batman (aka Vincent Price) with all his bad puns. Ellie and I have a small collection. None of our eggs cost very much and many of them were gifts, as well as some being family heirlooms. I have also decorated some and created one from scratch.
For many people the egg is a major symbol of Easter, of spring fertility and rebirth. For kids it is about chocolate. In many cultures it is also the cosmic egg in creation myths. The egg is the ultimate symbol of creativity and has inspired many artist’s and crafts people to create beautiful objects.
A collection usually begins with one object. My parents had a Austrian poker work egg brought back from an overseas trip. It opens up to form two egg cups and has matching napkins rings. I was always fascinated by it’s decoration and shape so when I saw other interesting eggs on holiday or in op shops I would snap them up.
Austrian poker work egg and Swiss tin eggs
Some of our eggs have been brought back by family members from holidays overseas as gifts. Our aunt gave us some cloisonné eggs from China and they came with little wooden stands. I also had some old ones from a relative that are good for displaying eggs. On a trip to Japan several years ago we also found some lovely decoupage eggs when visiting an exhibition at the Tokyo Museum that depict images from some medieval narrative scrolls.
Chinese cloisonné eggs (back row), Chinese painted real egg (centre), Japanese decoupage eggs (left and right centre row) Chinese painted wooden eggs (front row).
Because Australia is so close to Asia it is easy to get Chinese eggs here. Locally we found some real eggs that were painted with the Animals of the Chinese zodiac, like the horse and monkey. These are quite fragile and need to be stored carefully.
Chinese zodiac animal painted eggs
Chinese zodiac animal painted egg (left), Chinese appliqué egg.
There are also some Asian plant fibre eggs but I have forgotten where they come from as they were a gift. Shows you should write things down at the time.
Old egg cups are good for displaying eggs. We have a couple of vintage majolica ones from Italy: a turkey and a duck, as well as a later goose, all found at op shops. These are quite fun and painted wooden eggs look great in them.
Polish wooden eggs and Russian painted egg at back
Russian wooden eggs
Old napkin rings are also good for displaying eggs. They come in all sorts of shapes and materials and make an interesting collection of their own. I also find large vintage buttons good for stopping eggs from rolling around.
Eggs come in so many different materials and can be an example of various crafts. You can find interesting ones at local craft markets or specialist craft stores.
Australian painted real eggs and Philippines embroidered fabric eggs
Hand blown glass eggs
African stone eggs, two painted and hand engraved and a black wooden ebony egg
Taiwanese Sodalite egg (left), orange simulated marble egg (centre back), Italian marble egg (right), my talc stone egg (front).
I had a go at sculpting my own talc stone egg. This caused a great deal of dust and took a lot of sand paper to get the right shape. I now appreciate how much effort it must take to shape and polish very hard stones.
One year I decided to paint some eggs as table decorations. The most difficult part was blowing out the white and yolks. Because I thought I would run out of breath, I used an air brush compressor with a syringe needle attached to the end of the tube. With too much pressure the egg exploded so it was very tricky and messy. The blown eggs were then coated with layers of acrylic paint and stippled with another colour to make a textured effect. I added some gold dust left over from gold leaf that someone had given me and applied it with the varnish. I think that the aqua ones look like real eggs. The layers of paint has made them less fragile.
I have a real ostrich egg that I bought at the Melbourne Zoo shop ages ago. There must have been an excess of eggs in their breeding programs. Wonder if they made huge omelets. There were holes in each end of the egg where they had blown out the innards. These were rather large and not very attractive so I glued in some enamel flower earrings that I did not wear. This is probably the closest I will get to anything like a Faberge enamel egg and the ostrich did most of the work. It has such a beautiful creamy shell and is quite heavy.
The following black egg is made from Australian post ice age river red gum found buried in the flood plains of the Murray River. It is very much like Irish bog oak. These ancient trees stopped growing about 5,000 years ago and the ancestors of todays indigenous Australians would have been around to see them growing. This was a gift from a friend who knows the maker.
The oldest manufactured egg in the collection is tiny. It is a novelty made in Germany and sold in Melbourne in the late part of the 19th century. The egg contains the “smallest doll in the world,” a little peg wooden doll that we inherited from a relative. Unfortunately some long ago child had broken one of the arms because these are movable. The limb was long gone. I had to give it an arm transplant using a tiny piece of matchstick and glue (click on the pictures for detailed close ups). This was really fiddly and I nearly glued it to my finger. The doll looks a lot happier.
That’s our egg collection. It is amazing how many creative ways there are to make decorative eggs and these are only a small sample. It seems appropriate that a major symbol for creation should inspire all sorts of creative, eggceptional ideas. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.