CHEROKEE VILLAGE, AR (KAIT) – Ahead of the Easter holiday this weekend, many families will dye and decorate eggs, but one Cherokee Village man creates art out of them year-round.
An eggshell actually serves as a canvas for Royston Morris.
"Even though it's just a simple egg and it's a very thin shell," Morris said, "think about it as a piece of art."
That's exactly what he has done for almost 30 years now of creating what look like Fabergé eggs.
"It's very time-consuming," he said, "but nevertheless I think it's something which is helping me to stay young."
The now 85-year-old man first realized his artistic talents as a young boy in England.
"Ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper," he said, laughing, "I've been dabbling in drawing and sketching."
He moved to America in 1975 to marry his wife, whom he met on a work trip to the United States. They settled in New Jersey, then moved to Florida and finally retired in Cherokee Village.
That's where the idea hatched to use eggs as art. The inspiration came only after a trip overseas to visit his sister.
"As a gift, I took her one of my paintings," Morris said. "When she looked at it, she appreciated it, and she said, 'Oh by the way, you're not the only artist in the family. You can come and see what I do.'
"She took me to another room in her home," he added, "and there in a beautiful case was about 70 of these decorated eggs."
Morris came back home and took up the hobby shortly thereafter, but it has proven anything but easy or cheap.
Working on eggshells requires a steady hand and some unlikely tools, like spaghetti.
"A piece of raw spaghetti, if you just dap it on your tongue and then you can pick up the very tiny part and then you can place it in the position where you need it to go on the egg," he said.
Morris has to coat the eggs with a special sealer to make them less brittle, but they are still fragile.
"You've got to have patience and perseverance in order to complete one egg," he said.
He has worked to be able to take an eggshell and turn it into just about anything, including a lighthouse and a locket.
He is most proud of an egg that he intricately carved and covered in Swarovski crystals, a design that took about a year to complete for his wife.
"It was quite an interesting project," he said, "because it was an egg that my wife had seen at a show, and she says, 'I want it done like that.' I said, 'Okay, I'll do it.'"
Morris lost his wife to cancer shortly after moving to Cherokee Village. He has beat the disease three times, and has always relied on his art to get through it all.
"I will not sit and be miserable and get down-hearted," he said. "No, if the mood strikes, get up and do an egg or start on an egg or do something."
Morris decided to begin selling some of his eggs last year. He has been making shells into baby carriages for local expectant mothers. These designs usually fetch about $150 apiece.
What he truly wants, however, is his hobby to stay just that.
"It's not an occupation to the degree where you have to go and do it," he said. "You've got to have that need, I think, within you in order to create something beautiful."
He would also like to begin teaching because he says he is the only artist in the state that does this kind of artwork.
He hopes to be able to pass along all the skills he's learned so that others can enjoy this hobby too.