Rapaport Magazine

Balboa Park Carousel Egg

By Amber Michelle

   Twenty years in the making, the Balboa Park Carousel Egg music box is an objet d’art that encompasses the skills of some 20 artisans who worked together to create an object that showcases American craftsmanship at its finest. “The egg had to stand up in the worlds of art, jewelry and mechanical music,” explains Jim Grahl of J. Grahl Design Studio, in Orange County, California. 
   In 1991, Dr. Barry Marfleet approached Grahl to create an heirloom piece. Grahl decided to do an egg and in the tradition of Fabergé, the egg had to have a surprise. The egg contains an exact replica of the Balboa Park Carousel that was built in 1895. “Marfleet wanted to leave a hallmark object that was unique,” says Grahl.
“I came up with the carousel theme because I had prior knowledge of carousels and they are something that people can relate to — carousels bring up memories, thoughts
and feelings.”
   Standing 27 inches tall and weighing 80 pounds, the egg is comprised of gold, silver, platinum and diamonds weighing 11 carats, as well as optical lead crystal, enamel and complex mechanical movements. The enameling uses a sixteenth-century technique that maintains the color over time. Inside the egg, the carousel rotates and the horses move up and down, while music plays. It took approximately 5,000 handmade elements to create just the carousel, movement and music. “This project is bigger than any one person could do on their own,” concludes Grahl.
   The egg is valued at $15 million to $20 million and is currently on display at the
San Diego Natural History Museum in its exhibition “The Horse,” which runs through January 20.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - December 2012. To subscribe click here.