An Egger Practices Her Art In Crete

Russell's Publications; 
Editor Chris Russell

Text and photos by Regina Nuttall

Carol Wentz and three her little dogs live in a comfortable old fashion house in Crete. The big window, encrusted with decorated eggs looks like a stained glass.
Carol likes to look through it sitting in her moms heirloom armchair. But not often. She is too busy to do nothing.
Her huge garden with unique plants, her ailing patients and a lot egg-shells on the table every day are waiting for her touch.
Before marriage and having kids, who are now in their thirties, Carol graduated from the University of Wisconsin and became an occupational therapist.
For many years she has worked in a rehab unit: helping people with disabilities use their hands and take better care of themselves. She believes in treating the whole person and not just their illnesses.
After a stressful day of work Carol relaxes making her art wonder eggs. To start making an ornament from an ordinary chicken egg, she drills a little hole in one end and blows the white out of it. She then lets it dry and starts the real work, cutting the egg into intricate shapes, inlaying miniature dolls, flowers, and adornments inside. She sometimes even installs little music boxes.
Besides chicken, she uses eggs from blue ducks, turkeys, geese, emus, rheas, and ostriches. Ostrich eggs are very big, thick and hard to cut, but very good for making utilitarian or decorative boxes.
Chicken eggs on the other hand are much easier to work with. They don't take so much time and make beautiful hanging ornaments.
Carol maintains that almost anybody can be an egger, as people who work in this craft call themselves. It takes time and dedication, but it isn't difficult if you have a clear idea of what you want to do, sharp tools, and a little knowledge and skill.
For the latter, Carol went to egg shows in Indiana and California at first eight years ago to take classes and learn from people more experienced than she.
Carol still goes to several shows a year, sometimes as an exhibitor, sometimes as a student. She takes the knowledge she gains in these shows and puts it to work.
"I go to work shops to know what kind of materials are available, to learn how to do things. But really I like to create my own, to make my own patterns and cut them. To make something that nobody else has made," she says.
You can meet Carol and people like her in local craft shows at high schools and churches. She will be more than happy to get tell about her craft or even help you get started in a fascinating hobby.


Photos Were On Display

Russell's Publications; The Crete Record
Editor Chris Russell 708 258 3473

Text and photos by Regina Nuttall

Photos were on Display

Carol Thorner is well-known to local and Chicago gallery visitors.
Her photos were on display last month in Crete Public Library.
Looking at them, you were able to feel the spirit of the author- a unique and creative woman with interesting life history.
She has found that self- expression and art can help people who are unhappy and unfulfilled. And it is very simple to start: take a class in a local college. It is a very small investment that could have a very big reward.
Thorner signed up for a photography class at Prairie State College in late 1970 by accident. Her husband, who had a lot of photo equipment, wasn't interested in still photos.
He was interested only in taking movies. She wanted pictures of their kids when they were little.
"This was the first place where I felt comfortable in my life. Where I could be myself, could take art work. There was no criticism, there was no judgment, there was no having to be what I wasn't. I got to be relaxed and just be", she says.
Carol also took painting, sewing, pottery, ceramics.
She made a lot of things for her home. She has continued her studies for all these years- now she has a masters degree and teaches what she has learned.
"I became a professor by accident, when my professors asked me to share knowledge with other people". Her students are of all different ages: from 12 years old to 82.
She teaches not only at Prairie State College, but also twice weekly at Governors State University, Daley College in Chicago, and the Art Center in Munster.
"We have women that are raising children and deciding that washing floors, doing house work and making lunches is not enough. I found it to be true- you need something for yourself. You are not just focusing on your husband's white shirt and what the kids eat It's nice, but there is more.
My husband always had white shirts and I still did photography".
Thorner sees young creative and talented girls and women, and feels a special empathy for them. She hopes the men in their lives will not ask:"Choose me or your art".
Her husband didn't understand why she felt the need to be creative. He was a traditional husband who thought his wife should only be concerned with the house and the kids. He asked her to choose and, after 12 years of marriage, they divorced.
Carol knows many families where this terrible problem still exists. "Women who were taught in colleges and universities to think, to feel as a human being, after marriage were asked to sit at home and later to choose".
She knows women who are in unhappy marriages and take pills try to feel human again. She thinks many of them wouldn't need the medications if they would only let themselves express their native creativity.
Many of her photos were taken during her extensive travels. She has been to Africa eight times, twice to Antarctica, more than once to China, Europe, Siberia, Russia. Some of these photos you can see in the Park Forest Art center, in the Thompson Center in Chicago, the Art Center in Munster, and in various Chicago galleries.
With her business partner, Marlene Gallagher, she runs a stock and fine art photo business.
With her interest in feminism, she has many works about women. "Is it possible to make photographs as powerful as these people are? I never found a way to do it that satisfied me. These women were much more powerful than they looked".
If you want to learn to make good photos, to work in a dark room, to develop black and white film and make prints by yourself, you can sign up for classes. Carol says many people have good equipment, but don't know how to use it.
One semester in college costs only $200. It covers the chemistry and classes and the use of dark room, and $120 for film, paper, and printing supplies.
You will have fun and maybe discover the hidden artist in you.