Beth Ann Magnuson is the sixth in my Sunday series featuring American Artisans. There are so many exceptionally talented craftspeople across the country who share a love of all things handmade, and this is my chance to introduce them to you. These artisans are creating beautiful and useful products that elevate the experience of everyday cooking and eating, and they’re using skills and techniques that might otherwise be lost in our era of throwaway mass production. Their work makes me happy, and I hope it does the same for you. Each feature will be paired with a giveaway to give you the chance to experience their work for yourselves. I’ll be doing these features every other Sunday for the foreseeable future, so be sure to check back, and enjoy!
I know you’ll forgive me horning in on your holiday celebrations…but how could I not bring you these awesome eggs today? Sculptor Beth Ann Magnuson, our latest American Artisan, carves exquisite lace eggs from her home in Bishop Hill, Illinois, where she gathers raw materials from her neighbors’ farms, and creates these masterpieces with a sharp eye, a steady hand, and a high speed drill. Her design inspiration? Victorian lace. You can’t make this stuff up…her work is almost unfathomable. Large and extra-large goose eggs as well as rhea, guinea, chicken, partridge, peafowl, pheasant, duck, dove and tiny bobwhite quail eggs…let’s explore it all together… (and yes, you will get a chance to win one of these works of art, check the end of the post for details!)
What happens when a high speed power tool meets nature’s most delicate creation? Magic. And I’m here to introduce you to the woman who makes it happen. Beth Ann is the artist and naturalist behind The Nest at Windy Corner, and these mind boggling Victorian Lace Eggs. I’m beyond proud to have her here today.
Beth Ann is a Long Island New York native with a degree in Art and a background as a commercial artist. She says “The rural Long Island with its vegetable stands and duck farms that I knew and loved as a child is long gone, eaten by civilization. So, as an adult, married and raising two children, I sought a setting quite similar to my childhood in which to bring up my brood. I relocated to rural Illinois where I bought a farm, grew specialty crops, and operated a roadside attraction known as Windy Corner Farm. When my children left the nest, my husband and I moved our home and business to the tiny historic community of Bishop Hill, Illinois. The entire village (of 100 people), is a national historic landmark. It is timeless and true – the perfect place to bask in serenity.” It is there, surrounded by nature on her morning walks, that she gathers the inspiration for her work. “The sights, the smells, and even the mud on my shoes, are as important to my process as the sack of material I drag home from these forays.”
Beth Ann sketches her designs right onto clean, blown out eggshells, and then etches them out with the precision of a dentist. “I am a doodler by nature and have developed a kind of vine and flower pattern that flows from my pencil onto a shell. I organize the design a bit, modifying it as carve it with a high-speed drill. Even at 400,000 rpms, the air-driven drill still chips and fractures the shell as I go. The drawing then becomes merely a suggestion. As I cut, I must finesse any chance chipping into a graceful motif. The end result is reminiscent of handmade lace and so, I have dubbed these works Victorian Lace Eggs.”
I asked Ann the question I know is on all of your minds…how is this possible? Don’t the eggs break? She says that while she has broken many eggs over the years, as she has mastered the technique, they now seldom break unless there is an unseen flaw in the egg itself. “Eggs are the perfect package, designed to take pressure from both outside and inside. This miraculous form allows it to withstand hundreds of piercings by my drill while keeping its strength intact!”
If you still can’t quite believe that all this is possible, watch the video below and you’ll see it happen before your eyes.
Beth Ann will even sell you a hand woven nest to display your special egg!
The word awesome is overused these days, but it sure fits these eggs. Beth Ann has carved thousands of eggs and shipped them all over the world. She says “Egg symbolism exists in every culture, and eggs most often represent life, birth, and potential. That my work is associated with such positive sentiments brings me joy and satisfaction.”
You know the drill (pardon the pun) Beth Ann Magnuson is generously giving away one of her intricately carved eggs (from this listing) to one lucky reader! Your egg will come with a complementary lucite stand, and be beautifully, and safely, packaged.
To enter, please visit The Nest at Windy Corner, HERE, and leave a comment below…
(Giveaway ends Friday April 10th)
*The winner of the giveaway is Linda Schiffer — congratulations Linda!!*
*I have not been compensated in any way by the artisans in this series.