Eggs may be fragile, but the folks who decorate them are anything but.



Back in 1998, eggshell artists were rocked by the news that Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens had canceled its annual show of decorated eggs, a tradition at the historical estate for more than a quarter-century. They learned of the cancellation just weeks before the show was to take place, leaving them to, um, scramble to find a new home.



Undeterred, those resilient artists managed to find a new roost at Quaker Square just in time. They banded together as the Ohio Egg Artists Guild to keep the event going, and this weekend the group will present its 20th egg show. It’s open Saturday and Sunday at Our Lady of the Elms, the show’s home since 2014.





(Karen Schiely/Akron Beacon Journal)

These Pysanky eggs were created by egg artist Denise DiGeronimo, an officer with the Ohio Egg Artists Guild. They will be part of the guild's annual Elegant Egg Show held at Our Lady of the Elms.


Getting to the 20th year is a testament to the group’s perseverance. It’s had to struggle periodically to find suitable locations for the show, now called the Elegant Egg & More.



In the early years the show bounced from Quaker Square to Chapel Hill Mall, but neither place drew the kinds of crowds the guild wanted. Then volunteer Suzanne Gibson — now the guild’s president — suggested the former First Presbyterian Church on East Market Street, which proved a happy partnership for 10 years.



“They were truly an angel to our guild,” charter member Denise Di Geronimo said.



Unfortunately, the arrangement didn’t last. When the congregation moved to Copley to become the Vine Fellowship, the show was left homeless again.



This time it was welcomed by First United Methodist Church on Mill Street, but the relationship “just didn’t work out,” Gibson said. So after one year, the guild moved the show to the Elms, and it’s been happy about that decision ever since.





(Karen Schiely / Akron Beacon Journal)

Gail Mercer of Akron of the Ohio Egg Artists Guild created this scene depicting a lady bug home and garden using a button quail egg. The guild will be holding its annual Elegant Egg Show held at Our Lady of the Elms.


Such tenacity probably isn’t surprising for people who will spend untold hours on the meticulous work of turning eggshells into art.



The ways they do that are mind-boggling. Artists at the show represent a range of methods — techniques such as carving and decoupage and Zentangle, beading and hand-painting and sgraffito, which involves scratching a design into a dyed shell.



Gail Mercer, the group’s vice president, didn’t even let a broken thumb deter her from taking a class to learn how to carve an egg with an air tool. “I did it all left-handed,” she said.





(Karen Schiely/Akron Beacon Journal)

Gail Mercer of Akron of the Ohio Egg Artists Guild created this Ohio themed design on a goose egg. The guild will be holding its annual Elegant Egg Show held at Our Lady of the Elms.


Mercer’s delicate creations include an egg carved with wildflowers and outlines of the state of Ohio, as well as a teeny ladybug house made from a button quail egg with an acorn cap for a roof. Two of her eggs won regional competitions and are part of the permanent collection at the Ohio Governor’s Mansion.



Di Geronimo’s specialty is pysanky, a traditional Ukrainian art form that uses symbolic folk designs and a wax-resist method. Ironically, she learned the technique from an Irish friend, and for 43 years she’s been turning out jewel-toned eggs with intricate designs as well as teaching others the craft.



“My sister says it keeps me off the streets,” she joked.



Gibson doesn’t just decorate eggs; she collects them. She’s in awe of the work that egg artists produce, including jewelry, miniature dioramas, bejeweled Faberge-style eggs and even a tiny fish created by covering a quail egg in beads about the size of nonpareils, painstakingly applied one by one.





(Karen Schiely / Akron Beacon Journal

This carved decoupage egg was created by late egg artist Jackie Davis who was also a founding member of the Ohio Egg Artist Guild and is shown as an example of the artistry of members of the guild. The guild will be holding its annual Elegant Egg Show held at Our Lady of the Elms.


The variety of styles represented at the show keeps some people coming back year after year and surprises others who are encountering it for the first time, the organizers said.



“You can always tell someone who’s come into an egg show for the very first time,” Mercer said. New folks are so overwhelmed by what they see, she said, that they often stop dead in their tracks.



Gibson said the artistry is almost unimaginable.



“You have to come and see it,” she said. “That’s the only way you can get an idea of the beauty.”



Mary Beth Breckenridge can be reached at 330-996-3756 or mbrecken@thebeaconjournal.com. You can follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MBBreckABJ or on Twitter @MBBreckABJ .