Friday, March 15, 2013

The Easter Egg Tree

My mom was the original 'Martha Stewart', before we knew what that was.  We had dinner every night at 5:00 pm, deserts from scratch, her house was immaculate, her gardens were the envy of the neighborhood, she canned, and preserved everything it was possible to, made homemade breads, and candies, she sewed, darned, tatted, knitted, crocheted, embroidered, she had her own tool box, decorated for every holiday (and there was always a party too), dressed like a proper mid-century southern lady should, hat, gloves, and girdle always.  Oh and she accomplished all this while helping my father on the ranch and raising 6 kids. Does it make you tired to even read all that, it does me! She is my inspiration, especially for this project, it was her favorite.  I am not sure where she got it from but I can tell you some history about...

The Easter Egg Tree.

The Easter Egg Tree is a centuries old German tradition of decorating a tree with mouth blown eggs each spring.  The actual meaning has been lost with time but since eggs are symbolic for life it makes sense that this was an offering and celebration of springs arrival and the renewal of life each year.  I think they are just too pretty and making the eggs is for me a serious creative rush, working on such a delicate canvas as an egg shell and they are small so while you would think those 2 things would restrict your creativity not for me its the opposite, its a wonderful challenge.

Oliver the Ever-Curious, and man do I need a storage solution for my entry! 

This is how mine started, 6.99 from the thrift store, missing all kinds of leaves and really dirty, but I saw the potential as soon as I spotted it.  I had already started my eggs and had been searching for a display.  I had inherited the one my mom made years and years ago but it was long gone.  BF was trying to discourage me from driving up into the mountains to get a manzanate branch like mom's ('Honey I think that would be considered stealing') but nothing else was giving me the strength I needed.  Yes the eggs can actually be heavy, but this raggedy silk Ficus was strong and the branches perfect, it was just Ugly (with a capital U).  

Oh Dirty Tree, Oh Dirty Tree...

My first thought was to replace the whole basket but once I cleaned it and added new grass I actually really like the nature color of the basket, I will probably paint it in a few years for a refresh.  (Sorry for the blurry pic)

I started just by spending some time looking at it, getting a clear picture of the finished product in my head and it went relatively fast, considering I had been searching for almost 2 months and already had a vision.   Once I started removing leaves and branches I realized that this was not a discount store 39.99 tree. This was a top quality product with real silk leaves and steel branches wrapped in heavy duty vinyl, and the basket is thick and sturdy.  The bark has an amazingly realistic look, sorry I wasn't able to capture that in a pic. At this point I was even more excited with my tree and really got into decorating it.  After thinning the leaves and unwanted branches I stepped back and thought "now what, needs something else..." Bingo!

Spring blossoms, I always have a few of these on hand. 

Yes that's the ticket ;)
I was very pleased with the end result.  I had to make a few changes to the placement of the tree but I was just so happy to have it I was not at all disappointed to not have it in the location I had envisioned originally.  

Now the really fun part, hanging the eggs.  I used to have 3 big boxes of eggs, the results of 6 kids and 30 years of egg making from my family and a few from my boys.  Some of the eggs have not fared well over the years of use so I keep those packed away. Well one box got lost, somehow during a move, and another got damaged in leaky roof incident, but I am grateful for the ones I do have left and immediately went to decorating.  

My brother, J, made this one in the late 70s.  I just love the green on the lower one. 

This was in my Easter basket when I was a little girl, too cute isn't it.
These where made by my mom.  The one on the left is a pic she probably cut from a magazine, the other is her own freehand design. Told ya original Martha Stewart.

I made this sometime in the 70s not sure what its supposed to be but I like the colors.

My sister, C, made this one when she was 13. I know this because mom taught us to always sign and date our artwork. The pink and black has always been a favorite, its just dye and black ric rac, simple and beautiful.  Birds and butterflies are great for adding other elements to your tree, can't wait till April 1st I am hitting the stores for some deep discounts for next year.

I loved when it was time to make eggs, we usually started preparing right after Christmas.  Mom would start saving a few here and there from the ones she cracked, too bad I don't have any of the mosaic eggs she loved to make. They were part of the leaky roof batch and they all fell apart.  Then one day in mid February, she'd pull out a dozen or so eggs, the needle and spatula and we'd get to blowing (that night it would be breakfast for dinner).  I have seen other directions on the internet like this, but just try to poke an egg with a needle and it will crack.  Use the spatula method I use, just be gentle. We would do them in turns, sometimes it felt like my jaw was going to lock up and man it burned my cheeks but laughing at each other doing it was half the fun.  Then they all got rinsed well and set in an egg crate to dry. I can still remember rushing in from school everyday to check if they were ready.  After about a week she'd pull out her craft box and we'd get down to business.  Nothing was ever wrong, they were always beautiful in her eyes.  They were art to her. She shared her art with us. Now they are my art, and I am so happy to be able to share with you. 

This was a whole egg, till Oliver the curious knocked over the tree the 1st night and instead of throwing it away I improved it. Its still a work in progress, I want to write something on the card but am stomped. Any suggestions?

This is the simplest one I made this year. It's a water color wash and when I set it to dry the paint ran to one spot and created this.. I call it 'God's Eye'.  
I hope you will be inspired and create your own Mouth Blown German Easter Egg Art.    

Enjoy Y'all
Lizz, the egg artist ;)

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