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Around the South Bay

When it comes to Easter eggs and the White House, she's on a roll

April 02, 1987|GERALD FARIS

How did Pat Hinz hatch the idea of an Easter egg showing a contented bunny sniffing a daffodil?

"It all happened in my dreams one night," said the Rancho Palos Verdes artist. "The idea came from a sculpture I'd seen of a ceramic bunny looking up and I decided I'd make the egg that way."

And what a dream it has turned out to be. The egg she created--by sculpting a rabbit onto a wooden egg and nestling it in a bed of papier-mache that looks like grass--has made it all the way to the White House, where it will be displayed as part of the annual Easter egg roll on the Monday after Easter.

"It's such a thrill, such an honor," said Hinz, who has gained a reputation in South Bay art circles for her ceramics, notably whimsical renditions of historic buildings, with tilting roofs and leaning turrets. She said the honor is special because the idea of including eggs created by professional artists in Washington's traditional Easter event came from Nancy Reagan and may be discontinued after President Reagan leaves office.

"There are over 700 eggs packed away, and there'll be 1,000 after he leaves office," Hinz said, adding that there are plans to take the eggs around the country as a traveling show.

Hinz will share White House egg honors this year with more than 100 other artists. She is the only one from the South Bay, but there are seven other Californians--including Slater Barron of Long Beach, who makes art out of laundry lint--and comedian Jonathan Winters.

On past Easters, the famous names have included Charles Schultz, creator of "Peanuts," and the late pop artist Andy Warhol. "He painted an egg white last year and signed his name on it," said White House aide Muffin Williamson.

The artists' eggs will be put on special display during the egg roll, which has been a White House tradition for 109 years. Using wooden spoons, thousands of kids get prizes for rolling real colored Easter eggs down a 15-yard slope on the White House lawn.

Adults are admitted only if accompanied by a child 8 or younger, but Hinz said the artists are exceptions. "We go through a special gate," she explained.

Artistic eggs weren't the only things added to the event by Nancy Reagan in 1981. She also began having thousands of wooden eggs signed by sports figures and other famous people and given to the children. And she has had 200 people dress up as cartoon characters and roam the White House grounds.

Hinz said she named her bunny "Bliss" because his face expresses total satisfaction. "He's trying to get to the daffodil and he has this 'Oh, it smells so good, oh, isn't this nice' feeling, sniffing away at that daffodil," she said.

She used the wooden egg, sent by the White House, for Bliss' body and then sculpted his head, ears and tail out of white bread crumbs mixed with Elmer's Glue. "When you knead this substance, it's just like porcelain," she said.

At first, the rabbit was ensconced just in the papier-mache grass and little forget-me-nots, but Hinz said it didn't look complete. That's when she came up with the daffodil.

This is the third time Hinz's art has made an impression on the Reagan White House. One of her clay buildings--a replica of the schoolhouse in Ripon, Wis., where the Republican Party was born--was given to the President as a 70th birthday present. Two years ago at Easter, she was asked to submit an egg for the White House roll and she used the Ripon schoolhouse as a design.

"This year," she said, "I wanted to do something Eastery and I thought it would be fun to have a rabbit."

What hasn't been much fun lately is wearing a cast since she fell on the cement floor of her studio, fracturing her knee in three places. "It was on Friday the 13th," she said.

She said that she hopes to be well enough for a smaller cast by the time she and her husband, Superior Court Judge Edward A. Hinz Jr., leave for Washington.

When the eggs start rolling at the White House, she doesn't want to be hobbling.

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