Wishing all my readers a happy Easter – may you enjoy all the chocolate and gardening you want!
A fun thing to do with youngsters around Easter is decorate the shells of hard-boiled eggs and yes, you can use paint, felt pens and so on … or you can try some natural dyes.
Onion skins, turmeric, red cabbage leaves, coffee, blueberries, tamarillo juice, beetroot juice – I think the list is probably only limited by your imagination. However if, like me, you feel more comfortable with a recipe, here’s a link to Megan Anderson’s website where she’s done the experimentation, made recipe cards for each colour and put some great photos with them.
The Waldorf Today site draws on a number of sources for further ideas for dyes and how to create patterns on the eggshell using flowers and leaves, while Big Sis, Lil Sis has step by step photos of how to make these patterns.
An Easter egg of a very different kind is the one now known as the Rose Trellis Egg. It was made by Henrik Wigström (1862-1923), under the supervision of renowned Russian jeweller Peter Carl Faberge (1846-1920).
Tsar Nicholas II in 1907 presented this egg to his wife, Alexandra Fedorovna, to commemorate the birth of the tsarevich, Alexei Nicholaievich, three years earlier. Because of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-05, no Imperial Easter eggs had been produced for two years. The egg contained a diamond necklace and an ivory miniature portrait of the tsarevich framed in diamonds (now lost).
The eggs were made for the Imperial family between 1885 and 1916. Read more at the Faberge website (the Hen Egg of 1885 must have created a wonderful reaction after she opened the plain exterior).
By 1920 the Rose Trellis Egg had made it to Paris and in 1930 it was acquired by American Henry Walters who, a year later, bequeathed it to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
Although it sounds unlikely, a real Faberge egg made in 1887 was discovered in the American Midwest in 2012 where a fellow who had bought the item for its scrap gold suddenly realised what he’d been looking at “for years” on his kitchen bench – £20 million worth of egg! Read more here.
But Queen Elizabeth (and her staff) is also guilty of not knowing what she owns – an automaton elephant decorated with diamonds and rubies was last year authenticated as being the “surprise” from the Diamond Trellis Egg (1892). The egg itself resides in the United States. Read more here.
So I’ll be enjoying my chocolate eggs (or scrambled eggs) while watching Antiques Roadshow and dreaming … here’s the list of the whereabouts (including the known unknowns) of the surviving Faberge eggs.