“Children, be careful not to let the onion skins blow away,” warned babushka. ”It’s taken me months to collect all those. And don’t mix the brown ones with the red, Karl Gustavovich. Remember, it’s the brown skins for the red eggs and red for the blue ones. On Easter day you can choose your colour for a breakfast treat, you lot, but for now it’s just the gift eggs we’re dyeing.”

My grandmother would spend hours decorating them, just as she had when she was a child in Livonia. We loved to sit and watch as she prepared the pure white eggs, wrapping in leaves and flowers to make patterns of nature or using wax resist for exquisite lacy patterns, cross hatched lines or tear drop shapes in layers of colour.

Babushka always reckoned she must have passed down an eye for detail since Gustav my father went into the jewellery trade. I suppose I can thank her then that his shop did well enough to be able to send me on a Grand Tour. While his training ground was a simple apprenticeship in St Petersburg, mine was the whole of Europe and the splendours that Paris, Florence and Frankfurt had to offer. I wish she could have seen some of the magnificent settings of jewels and precious metals I saw and learned from there, though she would probably have preferred the bold colours and intricate enamelled designs of my recent work on objets d’art.

“That restoration work we did at the Hermitage has obviously gained a good reputation for the firm.” said Agathon. My brother is a talented designer and loves to work on detailed commissions. “The Emperor has asked to see you tomorrow, wants you to come up with an Easter gift for Tsarina Marie. Get some ideas together and take them up to the Palace.”

As I travelled to the meeting with the Tsar, I recalled the joy of seeing my grandmother’s Pace-eggs sitting in their presentation baskets. ‘Babushka,’ I shouted to the wind, ‘This could be the House of Fabergé’s big break!’

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Voice-Team (@voice-team)
6 months ago

An entertaining way to gain an insight into history. Full of historic details written in an accessible manner. A lovely portrayal of a family of true artists.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
7 months ago

Another super story Susan, and steeped in history. Well done.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
6 months ago

I was wondering what is Babushka and it makes me do some research about it. And I was surprised for it means “old woman or grandmother”. How lovely it is. It is very nice in the ear, from now on I will call my grandmother, “Babushka”. Nice story, Susan.

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
5 months ago

Ha, ha, Lotchie, what was your Grandmothers response?

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
5 months ago
Reply to  Eric Radcliffe

She always answered me “What?”. But when I explained to her what it is, then she says “Okay, I like it though”.

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
5 months ago

Just think you could have made something up, just to have made her laugh.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
5 months ago
Reply to  Eric Radcliffe

ha, ha. Exactly.

Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti (@dipayan-chakrabarti)
6 months ago

The story strikes a passionate chord with nostalgic memories.

Katy Bizi
Katy Bizi (@katy-bizi)
6 months ago

This is a very tender and loving story expressed beautifully, Susan. Before reading it, I had only heard of the Babushka dolls but not of this use of the word that means grandmother. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to learn new things.

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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
5 months ago

A touch of history in a nutshell Susan!

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
5 months ago
Reply to  Susan Dawson

No Susan! Compact and precise, as in a nutshell!

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