A Brief Look at the History of Egg Decorating
Most people immediately think of Peter Carl Fabergé, when decorated eggs are
mentioned, but many people do not even realise that Fabergé did not use real
egg shells. His skills were those of an artist jeweller/ enameller and his
materials were precious metals and stones, enhanced by beautifully intricate pavé and shaded enamelling.
Working in Russia between 1885 and 1916, Fabergé is best known for his
Easter egg designs which were commissioned by the Tsars Alexander III and
his son Nicholas II as gifts for their respective wives. Each egg featured a
wonderful surprise to delight the recipient and each egg surpassed the
previous design. This concept of an added twist‚ to the design is attempted
by egg decorators today and tiny figurines are sought after to add that
extra element to the work. Fabergé's work is highly collectable today and
there is a major collection of his work on view at the Forbes Magazine
Galleries in New York City.
The designs of his contemporaries, such as Nikolai Zverev have never
achieved the same level of public acclaim, much of which must surely be as a
result of Fabergé's patronage by the Russian royal family, however their
designs are beautiful and extremely well-executed.
Egg decorating did not, however begin with Fabergé, but has a history dating
back many centuries. The Chinese would cover eggs in gold leaf, aboriginal
tribesmen would carve special symbolic designs onto emu eggs and the East
Europeans have a history of wax and dye work on eggshells known as Pysanky.
Nowadays eggs are associated with Easter time, but the oldest link with eggs
is pre-Christian and eggs are recognised world-wide as symbols of rebirth.
The modern style of egg decorating uses materials taken from many different
crafts which makes it a wonderful medium for anyone with a creative
flair. Skills from other crafts can be utilised and the method of achieving
results may vary from artist to artist. The important concepts to remember
are to maintain as high a standard as possible, but at the same time to
enjoy creating. Egg decorators today are so fortunate - we have at our
fingertips the source materials for our designs which have been created over
centuries by artists and craftsmen the world over. New technology is
constantly providing us with new materials and finishes to use and the
technological breakthroughs of our age mean that the exchange of ideas
is occurring far more quickly and between so many more people than
ever before. If this craft, in its many forms, is to survive and grow, we
need to help others to learn by sharing our skills and our experiences.
Enjoy your craft and help others to enjoy it too.