”I got started carving eggs when my husband and I bought a Paragrave for glass and wood engraving.” Nellie Whitener tells us that she has always done some form of art as either a hobby or job. At one time she even owned her own custom leather shop where she handmade belts, bags, wallets and other leather items. When she first heard about egging in 1989, she decided to try this new and very different form of art. “When I first started out doing eggs, it was ostrich eggs, then I found out about the colors of the emu eggs, (through the internet) and how wonderful they were to carve and work with.” Nellie went on to say that she is now also decorating duck and goose eggs and hopes to have a web site one day.
Since her foray into the wide world of egging, Nellie has sent two eggs to the White House. After winning 2nd place in the 1997 Paragraphics Corporation carving competition that, her picture appeared in the local paper showing off her winning ostrich egg. It was seen by Jan Dorsey, local representative for the American Egg Board, who contacted her and asked if she would be interested in designing the egg representing North Carolina for 1997. The eggs were to be on display during Easter at the White House. The picture of Nellie (above left) shows the chicken egg she designed for the event.
Every year since 1997 the American Egg Board, has sponsored a contest at the State Fair in Raleigh, NC. It is a 2-hour drive for Nellie to enter hereggs; but she has entered every year since 1997. In 1998 she won 2nd place, in 1999, won 3rd place, and for this year of 2000, she won 1st place, sending her second to the White House. All of the artists were invited to a special tour of the White House during the time the eggs are on display around Easter time.
Nellie tells us that she had originally planned on taking the egg with her to the April tour and that the Egg Board was going to present it to President Clinton. However, because of the protests and pickets concerning the World Bank Conference they were not allowed to take the tour. “I was contacted by the Egg Board and said that they felt really bad because we were turned away that day, even some of the White House staff was turned away because of the barricades that were up around the White House, and if I was still in town would have given me a special tour, but since I was already back home, they gave me the address to mail the Emu egg to President Clinton.” Nellie went on to say “I got back in touch with the Egg Board for confirmation of delivery and they confirmed that the package was received, it was taken into the Oval Office, the president liked it, and would be put on display in the residence.”Because she is working full time, Nellie does not have time to do as much egging as she would like. She has a shop beside her house out in the country and will take orders for custom eggs. Prices for her presidential eggs and the eagle are $50.00 plus S&H. For more information, email Nellie at email@example.com