by Vicki Barr
At age 87, Houston Egg Artist Jake Bingham has dabbled in almost every form of egg art. A former president of the Houston Egg Art Guild (1986-1987), Jake has had the opportunity to learn from some of the best, develop his own techniques, and has honed his skills over the years. Thankfully, he is willing to pass his knowledge on to new eggers like myself. My husband and I met the Bingham’s few years ago at church and were invited to their house to see all their beautiful treasures. We had a wonderful time visiting. I was in awe at the beautiful eggs, crafts, collections, quilts, and treasures that they have collected or created. Jake has created 160 eggs to date and is still adding to his collection. He was kind enough to take me on as a pupil in April 2002 and is a wonderful teacher.
Jake tells me that in the 70/80's, he owned a stamp business. A sweet lady came into his shop in 1980 to buy some stamps for her collection and spoke to Jake about egg art. Intrigued, Jake became a member of the Houston Egg Art Guild, where he quickly gained a reputation for having the "touch" - give him an idea or a photo and he can create almost anything (such as the diorama ostrich egg to the left). He became active in the organization, taking classes, teaching, showcasing his art and even serving as president of the guild for two years. Although health and/or weather may not permit him to continue to travel to the meetings, he is still very active and is still creating beautiful eggs! He does not sell his eggs, but makes them as loving gifts to his wife and daughter, Pat. Pat has lovingly displayed about 1/2 of his collection in her home. And who could blame her... anyone would be proud to display an egg by Jake. (Editors note: Click on images to enlarge).
As every artist knows, creativity is inspired in many ways. Eggs by Jake may be musical, covered with beads, have drawers or be hinged. The theme may be taken from nature, as in the functional waterfall Ostrich egg (above left), or to glorify God as in this Angel Guardian Ostrich Egg (above center), or celebrate a fairy tale by creating a Cinderella carriage with working "lamplights" in the front.. One thing his creation won't be is boring. Each egg is unique and has a charm of it's own.
Many egg artists create clock eggs similar to the Emu Clock Egg to the left, but Jake is one of the first to add a barometer and a thermometer to the design, as in the Ostrich Weather Station Egg to the right.
The egg design may be as simple as cutting out an ostrich egg to make a basket to hold other eggs like the one to the left, or; it may involve cutting a more complicated lattice work or filigree to frame a diorama. The ostrich egg gazebo to the right has extensive latticework framing the three hummingbirds as they hover above the flower in the center of the egg.
The first egg that Jake created is shown above in the center. It is hinged and closes to complete the "shell" surrounding an adorable little girl holding a sea shells.
When asked which egg is his favorite, Jake admits to having two that he really likes. The Pagoda egg is actually two eggs - one inside the other. This unique egg within an egg design utilizes a goose egg inside an rhea egg. The inner egg, which rotates, is hand painted with a lovely oriental scene. The outer egg is an rhea egg, and features hinged doors within doors. Adding to the pagoda feel, Jake cut out the sides of the egg, turned the pieces around and reattached them. As you can see, the side inserts are also cut twice.
Jake's other favorite is a hinged ostrich egg diorama which features extensive gold mesh. Two little hand-made Victorian ladies sit amid cushions under a chandelier. Yes, the chandelier actually lights up! Note the mirror with sconces on the "wall" of the parlor. Jake adds such wonderful details to create the perfect scene with many items hand-made specific to each egg.
Marylou, his beautiful bride of 67 years, is also incredibly talented. She has created several eggs herself (see picture to left). She proudly displays their creations and loves to show them to friends. In addition to egg art, she also creates quilts, tole painting, bead art and anything that catches her eye... her talent seems limitless! When I asked which of Jake's eggs she likes the best, Marylou showed me the beautiful pastoral diorama ostrich egg to the right.
When I asked which of Jake's eggs she likes the best, Marylou showed me the beautiful diorama ostrich egg to the right. This beautiful musical country scene rotates to show the loving detail work. The scene is carried out onto the open doors. The beaded goose egg on the left displays another beaded delight inside, a small quail egg.
Jake has shared his love of egg art with me and I am
excited to have such a wonderful teacher to show me the "ropes."
I am always eager to go back to his house and hope to get more instruction as
Jake's time permits.
Editor's note: Jake has done an excellent job of teaching Vicki Barr. Click here to view her work.
A sad note from the Editor: Jake passed away on December 29, 2002. He was 87 years old. It is my understanding that he created 4 new eggs in October and November. Friends and family will miss him greatly.
"He was a great inspiration to me and many others, not only in his art work but his love for life, friends, family and God. I will miss him tremendously." Vicki Barr.