An Egg-cellent Pastime
Patrick Fedde was bored. For this 90-year-old with a very active lifestyle, COVID put a damper on his plans. He was supposed to be vacationing in Portugal, but instead, he watched online tutorials and taught himself how to carve eggs. That was three months ago, and now, he’s an egg artist!
“Nope, I’m not an artist,” Patrick said.
“He’s very talented,” corrected his wife, Beverly.
Patrick’s interest in arts and crafts came from his career as the president of a craft distributorship. He often had the opportunity to learn new crafts, and became quite accomplished as a calligrapher—but it was over fifty years ago that he attended a session on egg carving. Being “stuck at home” this year rekindled his interest.
A quick learner, Patrick can now complete some of his egg creations in as little as 15-20 minutes, more advanced projects taking several days. He enjoys the challenge of seeing how much eggshell he can get away with carving out, but the slightest pressure in the wrong place can crack the shell and ruin the project. When Patrick first started, he broke four eggs for every one egg he finished.
He uses all sizes of eggs, from quail to emu eggs, but he’s looking forward to tackling ostrich eggs. “They are so thick that you can do three-dimensional work in the egg layers.”
Decorating and carving delicate eggs takes extreme precision. His workstation, which he calls “The Egg Box,” resembles a medical lab. It’s a lighted, wood-framed glass box with armholes. A large vacuum is hooked to the back to suck out the egg dust. There’s a compressor for the dentist’s drill, and most of his hand tools are dental instruments. “I stick my arms into the box to carve,” Patrick said, “Because it’s dangerous to breathe egg dust, which can release remaining bacteria and microbes.”
Fedde is no stranger to danger, egg or otherwise, having served as a machine gun squad leader during the Korean War. He is the recipient of three Purple Hearts. According to Beverly, Patrick isn’t one to slow down. Not then, not now. “He gets up early to walk and work in the flower beds at church. I can’t keep up with him!”
“I’m very healthy,” Patrick said. “If it weren’t for the virus, we’d be traveling right now. I’ve been to 80 countries, but when Beverly and I got married, she hadn’t traveled outside of the U.S. We’ve now been married seven years, and I’ve already taken her to 40 countries!”
Now, he’s confined to traveling to the Christmas market at the Oklahoma City fairgrounds to show his eggs, but he’s pleased by the interest in his creations. Most are religiously themed, but he’s tried to create everything from an interesting tortoise he saw in a nature magazine to Disney’s 101 Dalmatians.
“Each one he makes shows more expertise and detail,” bragged Beverly. “I enjoy watching him at work.”
“After weeks of being locked away with nothing to do and no place to go, carving and decorating eggs is fun. I can’t wait to get started on the next one,” Patrick said.