When you first walked into Katherine Ott’s apartment it seemed like any other home. It had two overstuffed rocking chairs, a couch covered with a handmade afghan and shelves filled with greeting cards. But there is one thing that was different. In the corner the one farthest from the door, was a glass cabinet filled with eggs. Not just any eggs, but eggs decorated with beautiful patterns and carved into beautiful shapes. Egg-crafting was Katherine’s hobby.
The Steele County Historical Society’s latest pop-up exhibit, Egg-crafting: The Art of Katherine Ott, offers a sampling of eggs she created over a ten year period. Because she worked with egg-crafting for so long, she had built up quite a collection which include chicken eggs, goose eggs, turkey eggs, duck eggs, a quail egg, a pheasant egg, a sparrow egg and even an ostrich egg. And what she has done with the eggs is simply amazing. A sampling of Katherine’s eggs will be on exhibit through May 3, 2019.
“There were about seven of us (in Minnesota) that worked with eggs,” Katherine shared in an interview with an unknown newspaper. “We’d get together and exchange ideas. But we each did our own thing.”
The first step in crafting eggs, according to Katherine, is to remove the egg yolk. This is done by poking a tiny hole in either end of the shell and blowing out the yolk or by carving a hole into the shell and simply dumping out the yolk. Katherine would then draw a design on the empty shell and use a small electric saw with fine teeth to cut out the design. The rest was up to her imagination. She has covered the eggs with beads and braids and has put tiny figures into them. Some of the eggs are lined with velvet, and most are decorated with paper flowers.
It would be difficult to select the most beautiful egg in Katherine’s collection; there are just too many to choose from. Katherine did something different with each of the eggs in her collection. “I don’t think I have a favorite egg,” she said. To her, each one is special.
The Steele County Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1949. Its mission is to preserve and share Steele County history today for tomorrow. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Steele County’s past through museum exhibits, research, collections, tours, educational programs and book publishing.
The Steele County Historical Society, located at 1700 Austin Road, Owatonna, is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 am until 4 pm, Thursdays from 10 am until 8 pm, and Saturdays from 10 am until 3 pm. Admission is free for members, $5 for non-members. For more information, please call our office at 507-451-1420.