BROOKFIELD - For centuries, the egg has been considered a symbol of new life.
But does the emu have any idea that its egg may become a purse?
Does the bobwhite quail know that it may be producing part of a perfume bottle, while the tiny finch egg becomes the "atomizer?"
ABOVE: Dianna Neil of Fowler tests the drawstring on her newest project, an egg that opens like a lily to reveal its contents, Thursday at Alcraft in Brookfield. Neil has been attending classes at Alcraft for three years. BELOW: Neil’s egg is shown completely closed. See these and more photos on CU at cu.tribtoday.com.
How about the ostrich, whose large egg may be a two-layer gown for a Cinderella doll, or perhaps even Cinderella's pre-midnight carriage?
Egg artistry - the ultimate in recycling - uses the infertile productions of many different birds. What's more, this detailed technique is happening right in Brookfield.
Ruth Jennings, owner of Alcraft Egg Artistry, Custer-Orangeville Road, has been honing the craft of Faberge-style decorating for more than 35 years.
n WHAT: Alcraft Egg Artistry, LLC
n CONTACT: Call 330-448-1573 or visit www.alcrafteggartistry.com
n CLASSES: Available for beginner, intermediate and advanced students
n SHOW: Eastern Ohio Egg Artistry Show and Sale, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 26 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 27, Metroplex Hotel and Conference Center, Girard
"There's not too much you can't do to an eggshell," she said Wednesday in the store.
Jennings has carried one of the purses to a wedding and to her high school reunion. She said she wasn't really worried about it dropping and breaking.
"I never tried it though," she said.
The 77-year-old continues to learn new techniques - her latest project is an antiqued egg with hinged doors that opens like a lily to reveal another tiny egg inside.
Although it is an expensive art, it is not exclusive. Jennings said anyone can learn. One of her recent classes was a Girl Scout troop full of 9-year-olds.
In the very first adult class, students learn how to mark and cut an egg, apply hinges to doors on the egg and make a decal out of paper, such as a greeting card. The goose egg also includes a light.
One of the more advanced students, Dianna Neil of Fowler, has been attending for about three years. She is retired from GE, where she was a mechanic, and her husband is a charter captain.
"I just work on eggs now," she said during Thursday morning's session.
Also attending was Diane Collins, a nurse anesthetician from Greenville, Pa. Her daughter, Kelsey, a student at Slippery Rock University who also worked at Alcraft in the summer, was helping mother to apply epoxy to her project.
Neil said another class member works at Youngstown State University, and yet another is a dentist.
"We just come all walks of life," she said.
The eggs come from hatcheries all over the world and include goose, duck, rhea, peacock, turkey, swan and cassowary, to name a few.
The emu's egg is special in that it has three layers, each one added as the egg develops - white, then turquoise, then dark green.
Jennings and her students take care to not breathe in the dust from cutting eggs, so they put their project behind glass for that part of the work.
"It can get in your lungs and stay there," Jennings said, adding that she knows an artist who now struggles with lung health because she never used such protection.
Jennings usually does her own designs. Her husband takes care of building corian bases and wiring electrical features, such as lights and music boxes in the eggs.
"Even if I do someone else's, I change it or modify it on my own," she said.
Although Alcraft's main business comes from selling supplies for the art, the shop offers a feast for the eyes.
There are the eggs that still look like, well, eggs, and they feature painting, etching, scratching, intricate cuttings, images and 3-D paper flowers, as well as beads or Swarovski jewels that have been applied one by one. Jennings also decorates with tiny bouquets of flowers that have been created from corn starch and baby oil, and those cost $25 for a 3-inch piece.
And there are the eggs that take on another look - the jewel box, a baby shoe, an acorn, a bell, red (and purple) hats and a parasol. They may be home to a tiny nativity, a village scene or Jack and the beanstalk.
A turtle with a shaking head uses the top and bottom of an egg, while its middle becomes a "gnome home." Other egg leftovers are used to make an igloo for a minuscule penguin family.
Jennings travels to several shows in the United States, where she meets others who share her passion. A unique gift came from a woman in her 90s, who gave Jennings a round barn whose doors open to reveal tiny animals in their stalls. When the little scene inside the red barn is exposed to light, the music box plays "Old MacDonald Had a Farm."
Then there is the one - the $2,000 egg, which Jennings constructed herself. The cut egg is decorated with beaded leaves, which come from yet another shell. The bottom is covered in tiny white jewels. Inside is yet another intricately cut and beaded egg that lies in a cushy bed of soft fabric.
Would Jennings ever sell that egg?
"No," she said. "That's why I put $2,000 on it."