JENNINGS: EGGS-QUISITE EGG ART FEATURES LIGHTED BASES AND TURNTABLES
Brookfield, Ohio _ Ruth and Carl Jennings opened their Alcraft Egg Artistry shop in 1971. Their 200-acre farm wasn’t too far off the beaten track and before long customers were making their way to their shop where they featured materials and lessons for every popular craft. Carl remembers that macramé and bead craft were popular and resin casting had come into its own in the early 1970s.
“I worked fulltime as an electronic technician at a plant in Sharon and the craft business was Ruth’s to run,” Carl says. “She was always one to listen to her customers and one day, a customer talked her into going to a seminar in Cleveland to learn about Faberge Egg making. It was a day that changed our lives.”
He doesn’t remember the time frame, but within what seemed a short period of time, he was hauling a 40-foot long semi-trailer truck of inventory out of their shop that contained everything that didn’t relate to the ornate eggs. Ruth was ready to pursue her passion and pass it on to others. Before she begins to demonstrate, she makes sure her students understand the difference between Pysanki-style eggs and her Faberge-style creations.
“Pysanki is painting designs on eggs,” Ruth says. “Faberge was a Russian artist who decorated egg shapes made of precious metals with silk fabric, beautiful braids and precious gems. These were called the Imperial Faberge eggs. The interior or exterior may or may not receive a coat of solid background color, but never a painted design.”
Ruth uses the eggs of finch, quail, duck, emu, rhea and ostrich supplied by hatcheries that may maintain laying birds only for the eggs she needs. She has mastered the art of cutting, hinging and decorating eggs that hold surprises as unique as any the royal families may have enjoyed.
“Tools Carl designed make it possible for me to work efficiently. The brass hinges he designed and manufactures here on the farm are better than any others on the market. He’s also adapted dental tools and a box with a dust collector makes it possible to cut eggs without being exposed to the shell dust.”
She also praises his creativity and skill in wiring the bases she melds her eggs into.
“Our eggs reveal light under the crystal ice that supports the skaters and more than light they move to the music and if there’s a train on a track, you’ll love to watch it travel on a track with special effects built into the system.”
Ruth’s studio is in the shop and you will find her there most days focusing on one step of the process or another. And this is no small space to devote to one craft – 9,000 square feet at the present time with 2300 square feet devoted to show rooms and class space.
“Now that Carl is retired, we made the decision to apply at Shaker Woods. Years ago, I helped a friend who sold her work there and I know that people who come to the Woods appreciate fine historic art forms.”
To achieve the quality Ruth demands of herself, she spends an average of thirty to forty hours on each egg and many more hours on more elaborate designs. In addition to eggs on gold-plated stands, she makes many eggs with hangers suitable for decorating holiday trees.
Visitors to Shaker Woods this summer will see a wide array of intricate things Ruth has done with her real eggshells. One of her favorite scenes is a tiny ballerina twirling on a lighted stage to the music of a Russian ballet. Kits will also be available for those who want to complete their own ready-to-decorate eggs.
Prices range from $10 to $2000. The most popular eggs are priced at $38, $78 and $118.
Find the Jennings in booth 25.