'Egg'cellent work: Local artist decorated egg for the White House display

BEACH -- Pysanky or Ukrainian folk art is a tradition in Betty Klym's family which has now gotten her national recognition. Klym recently returned from a visit at the White House in Washington D.C. where she submitted a Ukrainian decorated egg to...

BEACH -- Pysanky or Ukrainian folk art is a tradition in Betty Klym's family which has now gotten her national recognition. Klym recently returned from a visit at the White House in Washington D.C. where she submitted a Ukrainian decorated egg to represent North Dakota in the annual recognition of the White House Easter Egg Roll.

Not to worry, Klym's decorated egg did not get rolled. Klym's egg along with other states' artists' eggs went on display at the White House Visitor Center and will be on display until April 24. After that, Klym's artistic tribute to North Dakota will be part of the private White House collection.

The American Egg Board selects artists from each state to decorate eggs for the exhibition in recognition of the White House Easter Roll. President Rutherford. B Hayes officially opened the White House grounds to local children for egg-rolling on Easter Monday in 1878. Successive presidents continued to host the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn. The State Egg Display tradition began in 1994, stated a recent press release.

Ukrainian egg decorating is a hobby for Klym which began in 2000 when her aunt Josie Namyniuk of Belfield taught her the art.

"My aunt and another friend have been making them for 50 years or more," Klym said. "It was always an interest of mine. I enjoy the entire process of egg decorating, it becomes addictive. My aunt said you make one you can't stop and she was right."


Klym's mother, Nellie Klym, also decorated eggs, she added.

Klym has gotten good enough to teach classes on how to decorate eggs with others. Klym works mostly on chicken eggs she gets from a reliable source which has chickens on a farm in Golden Valley County. She also decorates goose and quail eggs which can be more difficult depending on the design, Klym said.

"It's all a challenge because you never know what it will look like after the wax comes off. You never know if the dye caught well until then," Klym said. "Sometimes it can be breathtaking when you see the colors come out well."

Klym works as a residential specialist at the Home on the Range in Sentinel Butte. Previously she was a hairdresser with her own shop, but sold it. She also had co-owned Hot Stuff Pizza in Beach with her brother Roy until about 10 years ago. Her father Buster Klym once owned Club Highway 85 in Belfield.

Klym is known by friends, family and customers for her eagle and American flag pattern she started doing on eggs. Mostly, Klym does her own patterns and when she follows a set design, she adds her own flare to it.

"I did some of the eagle ones to support our troops putting their rank on it and all that or I used to also put the Pledge of Allegiance on it," Klym said. "For my state egg in the White House I used North Dakota symbols and put an oil rig, buffalo, wheat and Theodore Roosevelt on it."

A painting that hangs in her living room done by a friend of an oil rig is what she modeled the oil rig design after, but mastering a decent portrait of Roosevelt was a bit tougher. Klym's first version didn't suit her so she did one more before she had to get the egg to White House officials. She found out about the contest in mid-November last year and had to turn the egg in by December 1.

"I didn't even know about this contest and when I found out I was going to enter an egg I was honored and shocked," Klym said. "I was excited to learn I could go there for it and see other peoples' eggs."


Klym didn't get too much time to visit with other artists and not many were giving out the secrets to their success, but she found the exhibit of all the different ones interesting. She heard that some artists used dental tools to carve out their egg designs.

Klym makes her designs in pencil first before applying the colors then uses an electric writing tool containing a small funnel of beeswax. When the color has been applied about four coats of clear varnish are put on the egg for durability. It takes around 6 to 8 hours for Klym to finish her intricate designs and the egg gets a number of dips in different dyes. All raw egg material inside are blown out leaving the empty shell.

The event with Mrs. Bush was quick for the group of egg decorators and Klym. They lined up in groups with the eggs on tiny podiums and when her state was called, Klym pointed out her egg to Mrs. Bush while getting a picture with her.

Klym uses acrylic paint on her eggs, but is interested in branching out into canvas or other art.

"You can view all the eggs on the White House Web site," Klym said. "It was such a great opportunity to do this and anyone should do it if they can. It's a once in a lifetime thing."

Betty has her own Web site where people can view the types of egg designs she does at www.

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