Hand-made egg ornaments capture memories, moments

December 18, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- It was hard for Sara Reed to choose her favorite. Each of the ornaments slowly spinning on the Christmas tree in her living room held a special place in her heart.

"My favorite?" she asked. "Oh my. It is so hard to choose, there are so many real pretty ones. That one. No, that one. No, this one."

The tree was covered in ornaments handmade by her mother, Elizabeth Hendricks, who for 35 years, turned simple chicken, duck and quail eggs into works of holiday art with glue, ribbon, figurines and paint.

More than 50 of Elizabeth's ornaments hang on a tree in Reed's house in Greencastle.

Most are made from chicken eggs, but a few were made using eggs a family duck once laid, she said.

Each egg is unique and has its own story, Reed said.

Some were crafted to honor a memory or a moment, others the love of the season, she said.


Holding up one with a small ceramic poodle in it, she said the ornament was made in memory of their beloved dog, Missy.

Elizabeth loved to work with her hands and would spend hours making the egg ornaments, Reed said.

"She would cut a hole in the egg, clean out the inside and dry it," Reed said. "Once it was dry, she would put three or four coats of paint on the outside and the inside. Then, she would decorate it. It would take her hours to make just one."

The ornaments are a testament to the hours Reed's mother invested in her crafts.

Holding up one with a gold angel inside, Reed said her mother would cover the insides with individually placed sequins or glass beads. In each, she would glue figurines. She would decorate the outside with ribbon, cording and pearls.

"I love the ones that feature a scene," Reed said. "This one is a snowball fight. This one is of ice skating."

Using small figurines often used to decorate train sets, Elizabeth would carefully construct scenes in the eggs.

Displaying the eggs is a point of pride for Reed.

"I have made a few myself so I can say how tedious they are to make," she said.

With 35 years of love poured into the eggs, Reed said they deserved a place of prominence, which means an egg-only tree.

While Reed only has about one-third of the eggs her mother made, she said her siblings and cousins display the other eggs each Christmas.

It has been 18 years since Elizabeth died, but in each egg, a piece of her Christmas spirit lives on, Reed said.

"Mother absolutely loved Christmas," she said. "She put so much time into making the holiday special."

Pulling a gold egg off the tree, she paused to look at the ornament.

"This one," she said. "This is my favorite."

In the egg was a tiny green angel and a tree framed by dozens of green sequins.

"She made this for me one year for Christmas," Reed said. "I remember thinking just how beautiful it was."

Reed said she will pack away most of the ornaments after the holidays, but a few of the more precious ones she displays year-round in a glass case along with a photograph of her mother.

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