Eggs aren’t just for painting at Easter; they can also become artistic creations that last long past the Easter holiday.
Eunice resident Anna Belle Bertrand has spent almost 50 years making collectible egg dolls from egg shells and pieces of scrap fabric.
In April 1960, her late husband Aswell showed her an article carried in an insert in the New Orleans Times-Picayune that described making dolls from egg shells, and said, “Try doing this.”
From that inspiration, Bertrand was off and running. In the past 49 years, Bertrand has made literally hundreds of egg dolls, many of which were given away as keepsakes to friends and family, who now include six children, 10 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.
She has also made them for teachers, nursing home residents and young children battling cancer.
Every year she makes one special egg doll to give away; this year she made one for Addie Elizabeth Thibodeaux, a young woman she’s watched grow up through her church.
To make the egg dolls, Bertrand takes uncooked eggs; any kind will do, and pokes a small hole in the top and bottom.
Blowing through the holes, she breaks up the yoke and drains the eggs, making breakfast in the process.
After carefully washing out the inside of the eggs, she coats them in shellac; “It’s not an easy job,” Bertrand said, adding that it’s easy to accidentally break the eggshell.
Bertrand uses watercolor paints and chalk to paint the faces.
To make clothing for the egg dolls, Bertrand said, I dress up the egg shell with scraps I pick up all year long or things people would give me; I don’t buy anything.
“They all wear hats. I used objects I already had like material scraps, angel hair, yarn, beads, buttons, lace, leaves from silk flowers, milk jug caps, to bleach caps for the hats.”
To form the base, Bertrand uses the rounded bottom part of the egg carton, sometimes stacking two or more together to make the doll taller.
Everything is attached using a hot glue gun.
Drawing inspiration from her own imagination, Bertrand dresses the dolls up in a variety of different costumes and nationalities.
“I would design some of the eggs to look like brides and grooms, kings and queens, clowns, western, country girl, and different nationalities; Asian, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican,” Bertrand said.
Egg doll making is inexpensive but time-consuming; Bertrand said she spends many, many hours making a single egg doll.
Now 90 and battling cancer, Bertrand said she keeps her egg doll craft kit under her bed, and works on egg dolls when she’s feeling well.
“When I’m bored or lonesome, I pull out my box and work for a little while. It’s crafts for the whole year round,” Bertrand said.