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Fancy Eggs

Martha Stewart Living, April 2001

These Faberge-inspired hinged eggs are embellished with enamel paint and embossed gold papers. Crafts and sewing stores will inspire your own decorating style. A fifth small egg stands alone on four gold beads glued to the base.

Of all the decorated eggs celebrating Easter, surely none surpasses the bejeweled and enameled gold, platinum, and silver creations from the workshop of Peter Carl Faberge, Russian jeweler to the czars. Each of Faberge's fifty imperial eggs, commissioned between 1885 and 1915, is a marvel of what the imagination can conceive and the human hand can fashion.

An egg that would open to reveal a surprise inside was Faberge's idea for the Easter present Czar Alexander III gave to Czarina Marie Feodorovna in 1885. The jeweler kept the contents a secret from the couple until the white enamel egg was opened; within it, looking much like a hen's egg, was a golden yolk, and within the yolk was a golden hen. The other surprise, now lost, is said to have been a tiny replica of the Imperial Crown, with an egg-shaped ruby pendant inside. The couple was so enchanted that they placed a standing order for an annual Easter egg. For inspiration, Faberge would seek knowledge of his imperial clients' favorite flowers or landscapes, or of a momentous event of the preceding year. You can do the same for your own keepsake eggs. A cache of decorative and sentimental possibilities is probably waiting to be claimed between the bobbins and needles in your sewing basket, among your stores of postcards and stationery, and amid the miniatures in the toy chest. If not, a trip to crafts and sewing-supply stores will turn up more treasures than you can possibly play with.

Faberge eggs were built by committee; two hundred workshop artisans executed the master's designs -- enamelers, goldsmiths, silversmiths, gilders, jewelers, gem-cutters, and engineers crafted the mechanisms concealed within the eggs. Although the designs here can be fashioned by a committee of one or two, they are just as likely to initiate a cherished holiday tradition.

Fabulous Examples
An Excellent Variety
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