Do You Know? The “Egg-cellent” Marilyn

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dyk-marilynPhotos by Libby Rogers

Meet Marilyn Brannan of Panorama Village. Ms. Brannan has a unique collection of greatly treasured, handcrafted decorative eggs, and at the age of 81, she is an avid collector, volunteer, party planner, mother of two, grandmother of three, and great-grandmother of two.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Santa Anna and raised my family in Fort Worth. We moved around a lot after that. Eventually, we moved to Panorama Village, and for some reason I settled in and stayed! I like to help people, run errands for friends, or bring someone to an appointment. I’m very involved with my church, Trinity Baptist in Willis. I really love to plan parties and decorate for the holidays. My favorite holidays are Halloween and Christmas, and I go all out. Once I get my Halloween decorations up, I like when the neighbors come over to see everything. And I always do a big Christmas party.

eggs-12What is the first thing guests notice about your home when they come to visit?

Over the years, I’ve collected quite a few things. I have one cabinet here to display my Santas, and I have many more that come out at Christmas time. You can see I have a lot of dishes, too. It’s kind of a joke that we never use paper plates or plastic cups at my house. If you are coming to Ms. Marilyn’s, you’ll be using proper dishes, even if there are 100 people over. My son got me these cups as a gift that look like red Solo cups with a glass stem attached, and that’s the closest you’ll get to plasticware in my house!

I also collect angels, and, of course, my eggs.

eggs-1What is egg decorating, and how did you get into it? Are they actual eggs?

My friend Alice and I did it together. There was a woman who gave lessons, and we learned how to decorate them and cut them. We would drive to our instructor’s house for the weekend, and ‘egg’ all day long Friday. We’d stop to sleep, then wake up and ‘egg’ again all day Saturday. At the time, I was cleaning houses and working retail at the mall, so I was busy, but all my free time was spent egging.

Yes, they are real eggs. The large ones come from emus and ostriches. The smaller ones are duck and chicken eggs, and those very small ones are quail eggs.

eggs-6How do you decorate them?

All kinds of ways. We would use a small saw to etch designs into them or cut the egg into whatever shape. I never used the saw. My instructor would do that, and also my son learned to do it, so they could use the saw and then I would decorate the eggs. Some are painted. Some have glass beads and ceramic flowers. Some were very intricate, like the jewelry box, or the waterfall scene. Most little girls really like the Cinderella’s carriage eggs. It requires a lot of dexterity, and the beads are so small we used dry spaghetti to glue them onto the eggs. We would spit a little on the end of dry spaghetti, then use that to pick up the beads and stick them to the glue.

eggs-10Do you have any favorite eggs?

I have one that is entirely covered in hundreds of tiny glass beads, and it took me 28 hours to complete it. That’s one of my favorites, just because it took so long! I also love the one I made as a wedding cake topper, with a bride and groom in it. I remember everyone who looked at the wedding cake commenting on how special it was.

My children and grandchildren try to claim all of them. They are kind of a family treasure. They joke over who will get them when I’m gone, though I have given some away as gifts over the years.

eggs-2They are so fragile! How have you kept them in such great condition?

We moved a lot, and they were one thing I always made sure I packed myself. They would ride right in the car with me. One time when my granddaughter was a toddler, she got an egg out of the cabinet without anyone noticing. Just as we realized she had it, she dropped it and it shattered. Everyone just froze, waiting to see how I would react. She’s grown now, and we laugh about it, but we’ll never let her forget!

eggs-4Do you still “egg?”

No, I stopped “egging” in 2004. Like I said, it was something my friend Alice and I got into together, starting in 1996, and something we always did together. In 2004, she was diagnosed with cancer, and it took her very suddenly. I tried to get into it a few times after that, but it wasn’t the same without her. So I “egged” for eight years, and now I’m retired,

You have a lot of angels, too! How many do you have?

Oh I have no idea! At least a thousand. I have one whole room dedicated to my angel collection. They are on the shelves, on a couple of year round Christmas trees, even on the wallpaper!

eggs-8How did that collection start?

I didn’t mean to collect them. I’ve always thought they were pretty, and I’d pick them up here and there when I traveled, or if I came across a special one. There are a few I specifically went looking for. Then I would get them as gifts, and the collection grew and grew! I used to buy them all the time, and spent a lot of money on them. Now I pick them up occasionally. I am a Christian, so angels mean something to me.

eggs-3Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?

You know, you should never stop doing the things you love. Keeping up with things, helping people, throwing parties—it’s a lot of work, and it keeps me busy, but I love it and wouldn’t want it any other way. And I think it’s important to get to know your neighbors and be involved in your community. I worked to get a playground installed in my neighborhood for my grandchildren and all the other kids. I like doing the decorating in part to make the children smile. That’s what being a neighbor is.

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