Egg-straordinary lady

Published 6:00 am Sunday, December 14, 2008

Eggs aren’t something you would normally associate with Christmas, but one local woman has found a way to weave an Easter favorite into the December holiday.

Elsie Smith has used eggs to decorate her Christmas tree, but they aren’t your typical eggs that you buy at the grocery store. The 81-year-old who lives in Jemison has created masterpieces out of any kind of egg you can think of. Some of those include goose eggs, quail eggs and hen eggs just to name a few.

“I use just about any kind of egg I can find,” Smith says.

All of her designs are original. Though she might be inspired by a design she sees while she is out, she doesn’t ever copy what someone else does.

“I just see something I like while I’m out, and I think to myself, ‘That would look good as an egg,’” she says. “Then, I go back home and do it.”

After getting inspired to do an egg, Smith begins the process by cleaning an egg. She then pokes an extremely small hole in the egg, small enough that only a thin piece of wire is able to fit into it.

She then swishes the wire around in the egg to help break up the yolk and the insides of the egg.

“Then you blow like the Dickens to get all of the insides out of the egg,” she says.

Once the inside is completely clean, then she begins to design her egg. Using a pencil, she draws the areas where she cuts on the egg to make the design. She uses a Dremel tool to cut away the unnecessary parts of the egg so she can place her design on the inside.

Then, she begins to add the appropriate items she needs to transform the egg into a piece of art. She has eggs on her tree that depict the 12 Days of Christmas. Then, there are others that contain miniatures, such as Santa and Mrs. Claus or even a nativity, which is something else Smith collects.

If you can think of it, chances are Smith has an egg with it.

“It’s a hobby, and I enjoy it,” she says.

The person that helped Smith get started designing eggs was Otto Jones, who helped Smith design her first egg 30 years ago.

“I wanted to learn how to do it. So I got her to show me how she did it one day, and I’ve just been making them ever since,” she says.

Smith now works in her own workshop that was created by her late husband, William “Bid” Smith.

“He never really helped me that much with my eggs,” she says. “He would only tell me if my egg was sitting up straight in its stand. He was really good at helping me get it to stand up right.”

One of Smith’s worst fears is breaking an egg after she has devoted so much time to decorating it.

“It’s just terrible whenever that happens,” she says. “That’s why I usually decorate the eggs last. Cutting the eggs is when you are most likely to break an egg.”

Smith doesn’t just make Christmas ornaments out of eggs. She also makes eggs that are on display in her house every year. Her favorite is a lotus flower that was created out of an ostrich egg.

“Ostrich eggs are some of the hardest eggs to cut,” she says. “I had to cut this one three times just to break through the shell, but I am pleased with how it turned out.”

But on her Christmas tree, her favorite ornament isn’t one that she designed. It was instead made by one of her grandsons.

“When he was 2, he got up real early one morning, and he asked me if I could help him make an egg,” she said. “I like it, and it means a lot to me.”