Iíve been lurking in supermarket aisles this week, in the egg sections, and when no one is looking Iíve been furtively opening the cartons in search of white eggs. Itís no use looking at organic eggs or free-range eggs Ė theyíre all brown. Itís funny how brown eggshells are associated with healthy eggs. When you crack them, there is no difference in appearance or taste. Sadly, because of this perception, the white egg has disappeared.
Why am I searching for white eggs? Iím going to make an angel for Christmas. Angels are fragile, ethereal creatures with faces as pale as the finest porcelain Ė a brown egg face would look too robust. The eggshell angel is a clever idea; I wish Iíd invented it myself but I didnít. Iím copying an angel my mother made in 1953, when people had to be creative because the shops were not laden with designer Christmas decorations. Motherís angel is lying in a box at the back of our shipping container and, as I cannot imagine Christmas without an angel at my table, Iím going to recreate her.
Recipe for an angel
Ingredients: one white egg, white cardboard, one paper doily, butterfly netting, pipe-cleaners, glitter, paints and glue.
Method: first, blow your egg. Make a small hole at each end of the egg, blow until the egg is empty, then put it aside to dry. Make a cone from the cardboard and cover with a doily robe. Cut cardboard wings, cover with net, edge with pipe-cleaners and sprinkle with glitter. Fashion pipe-cleaner arms. Stick wings and arms to the cone; make a songbook for the arms to hold. Take the empty egg and paint an angelic face on it. If you can source golden locks, stick them on top of the egg; if you canít, find a merino farmer. Iím going to use fine merino wool for my angelís hair. Glue the eggshell head to the cone body and you will have a beautiful Christmas angel. May she become a family heirloom like Motherís angel, who has graced family Christmases for the last 58 years.
I canít make beautiful things with scraps of paper or fabric. I have a sister-in-law and a niece who are excellent makers of things Ė wedding dresses, stuffed toy tui with sequinned iridescence, yearly Wearable Arts entries. Another two sisters-in-law stitch quilts. And what do I do? About the only transforming of fabric I do is turning a cardigan into a duster if a button falls off. Iím a deconstructer rather than a craftsperson. I just do not make Christmas angels. I buy them from Kirks. That is what Kirks is for.
However, the younger generation of the family all seem precociously talented when it comes to essential items such as Christmas angels. At the end of the school year I wish for a wider hall as I open the front door to small children staggering under massive loads of Weet-Bix boxes and toilet roll middles. Iím just about to thank them for the unexpected supermarket shopping Ė ďand would you please not scrape it along the newly plastered hall wallĒ Ė when they gasp:
ďI made you a robot at schoolĒ. I carefully place the gluey cereal boxes and toilet roll middles on the coffee table, where they have to stay for weeks, or at least until the children go on holiday and forget their masterpieces.
Other family members like to display their art on my fridge. My son removed the new small fridge I had bought for my new small house and a huge new one was delivered, just so he has plenty of room to display his sonís art. Tane is only six months old, so you do see what I mean by precocious.
But you left me no option. I had to rise to the challenge.
I invited some junior nephews around and we made Christmas angels out of toilet roll middles and the paper circles that are found between packaged tortillas. The wings were made out of Taneís wet wipes. An older nephew put lights inside the tubby little angels so they glow.
I received a handmade card from a young niece yesterday that said, ďEach year you get awesomerĒ. I thought the drawing on the front was a golden Labrador but she tells me it is a parrot. I hope both you and I are surrounded by handmade gifts and decorations this Christmas as we both try to build seasonal traditions in the still-unfamiliar surroundings of our new homes.