This collection of wacky egg portraits has a fascinating history.

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Looking for some out-of-the-box Easter egg decorating inspo? Check out The Clown Egg Register by Luke Stephenson and Helen Champion. This book showcases a 70-year-old collection of oddball eggs with colorful painted faces for Clowns International, the oldest established organization for clowns, based in England.

clown egg
This egg is based off of a clown named Will E. Droppit, a modern-day clown, still performing today.
| Credit: Courtesy of Chronicle Books

Each egg portrait is based on a real clown and his or her signature look. Clowns often send in pieces of their actual wigs and costumes for authenticity. The portraits, which take about three days to complete, evolved from just faces to include details such hats, bow ties, and facial hair. The end result is a splendid (and sometimes creepy reproduction) of your best childhood memories (or worst nightmares). 

So how did this come about? What eventually started in 1946 as just a hobby for Stan Bult, founder of Clowns International, evolved into the formal documentation of the members' costumes and makeup. So this fun practice started serving a practical purpose as a reference and copyright—apparently there's an unwritten rule that a clown should never copy another clown's makeup.

Bult used blown chicken eggs for his original paintings, but over the years, that fragile canvas resulted in many suffering damage. By the 1980s, this art form was revived using durable ceramic eggs to recreate some of the lost mini-clowns and start documenting the new ones in the organization. You can read more about the fascinating history in the book—we particularly loved the bit about a celebration of Joseph Grimaldi, the "Father of Clowning" who rose to fame in the early 1800s. Each year, an East London church hosts a service in his honor attended by a plethora of clowns – all in full costume. Do they all arrive in a tiny clown car?!  

The Clown Egg Registry showcases 150 of these 300 heads, most of which live at the Wookey Hole Clowns Museum in Somerset, England. Click through the gallery below to see some of our favorites from the book.

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Pancake

Pancake is a modern day clown who drives a street-legal clown car

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Garibaldi

Garibaldi is Clowns International's oldest living clown. 

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Lulu Adams

Born in 1899, Lulu was a sixth-generation circus performer.

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Whiskas

Whiskas performed with a pet puppet monkey named Ooobee.

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Emmett Kelly

Popular in the 1940s and 1950's, Emmett Kelly is a classic example of a "hobo" clown. 

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Credit: Chronicle Books

Grimaldi

Born in 1778, Joseph Grimaldi is known as the 'Father of Clowning.' Clowns are often referred to as "Joeys" in honor of him.

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Credit: Chronicle Books

Will E. Droppit

Will. E. Droppit's style is classic "Auguste" clown, a term most likely derived from a German word for "fool."

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Credit: Chronicle Books

Fizzie Lizzie

Fizzie Lizzie once served at the Clowns International gallery coordinator, overseeing memorabilia including the eggs.  She was also the first to receive the UK BA (Hons) Clown degree in England.  

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Credit: Chronicle Books

Mr. Mudge

Mr. Mudge's look represents the typical "Whiteface" style of clown. 

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Credit: Chronicle Books

Nicko

Nicko's career started in the 1950s and spanned forty-two years. He also performed as a musician, comedian, magician, juggler, puppeteer, ventriloquist, and fire-eater.