- Associated Press - Thursday, April 13, 2017

GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) - Shelbi Lamb has been preparing for Easter since January, carrying on a longtime Greenwood tradition that was started by her husband’s grandmother, the late Gladys Lamb.

Eggs by Gladys are sugar eggs featuring piped-on royal icing in pastel shades of pink, blue, green and yellow. The eggs come in three sizes, with detailed piping of royal icing roses and flowers on the outside of the shell. Nestled inside the medium eggs are bunnies, chicks, carrots and glittered Easter eggs.

“It’s just kind of a part of Easter here,” said Shelbi.

The art has been around since the Victorian era and is based on the jeweled eggs of Faberge. Rather than sparkling with rubies and diamonds like the Faberge eggs, the Easter confections are made of sugar and water. Gladys Lamb made the eggs for about 40 years, and she taught Shelbi to make them a few years ago.

Shelbi, a Greenwood native, received her first egg when she began dating Gladys‘ grandson, Andrew, while still in high school.

Shelbi and Gladys bonded quickly over a shared interest in arts and crafts.

“She painted. She baked and sold cakes,” Shelbi said. “She could do it all.”

In her late 80s, Gladys made the eggs sparingly. In 2013, however, Mississippi Magazine approached Gladys about publishing a story about her craft.

“She was excited about doing that, so I told her I would help her that year making the eggs,” said Shelbi.

Gladys taught her grandson’s wife all the ins and outs of making sugar eggs, from molding the shells made of sugar and water to making the royal icing with powdered sugar, water and meringue powder to the detailed pipework.

Shortly after the article about Eggs by Gladys was published, Gladys had pneumonia and was hospitalized.

“We started getting all these orders from all over Mississippi,” said Shelbi.

Since Shelbi was the only other person in the family who knew how to make the Easter decorations, her mother-in-law and father-in-law brought Gladys‘ sugar egg tools to her home. That year, more than 300 eggs were purchased.

“I think that was the most we have ever sold,” Shelbi said. “I?had never done piping work before, and I can remember the first year my hand would cramp, and I thought, ‘I don’t know how she did this.’ I told her, ‘I have a new-found appreciation for you.’”

Once Gladys got out of the hospital, she helped Shelbi by piping the flowers. “She would call me and say, ‘I’ve got some flowers ready,’ and I would run over and pick up a box of flowers,” Shelbi said.

Gladys passed away during the week of Easter two years ago. With encouragement from her husband’s family and from people who have been collecting the eggs, Shelbi felt it was important to continue making Gladys‘ sugar eggs.

“Every year, I?say I’m just going to make a few, and then it’s 200 later,” Shelbi said with a laugh.

This Easter, Shelbi is shipping about 200 sugar eggs throughout Mississippi and to several locations out of state, including Texas and New York. She gets help from her husband and their three children, Drew, Macy and Tribble. Shelbi said the most special eggs to her are ones made by Gladys.

“I have a friend who texted me a picture of eggs she had gotten, and she said, ‘My mom got these for my children when I?was pregnant.’ Her twins are now seniors in high school,” Shelbi said. “That’s so neat to see those eggs that had been around for years and how they were so special to her.”

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Information from: The Greenwood Commonwealth, https://www.gwcommonwealth.com

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