Eggsperimental.

Where have I been?

No, I don’t want to talk about that.


What happened to the cabinet?

Finished. Been finished since before Gothmas, but don’t have photos yet because there’e still Gothmas decorations sitting on it (I need another box.)

What else has happened?

My cats (specifically Rupert and Rerun, but mostly Rupert) destroyed my original, not reproduction, not reiussue from Herman Miller, ORIGINAL, with original glass, Noguchi coffee table.

What the hell do you mean, “destroyed”?

Does that help answer the question?

Can you fix it?

Sort of.  I can repair the base. I do have a degree in Restoration that might be worth something other than cheap paper. But the glass (which I’m still finding in my floor weeks later) is obviously gone (I saved one chunk for posterity.) I can get an authorized reissue piece of glass from Herman Miller but it ain’t cheap and you know, it will be precisely correct dimension wise( sorry but the knockoff pieces *aren’t.*  I’ve lived with an original for a long, long time- I can spot a knockoff Noguchi table every time), but it still won’t be the original glass. Yes, I know no one will know but me. But I’ll still know.  Not ready to tackle that one yet.

What are you working on now?

Apparently, carving eggs. I saw an article a few months ago about this. Figured I’d give it a shot.  It’s not easy and it does take practice.  You do have some spectacular failures before you get any success. Most people tend to use larger eggs. Goose, duck, Emu, and Ostrich, since all of them are a) larger than chicken eggs and b) more sturdy than chicken eggs. It ain’t easy to crack an ostrich egg, let me tell you.  My approach was the “New York, New York” method. I figured if I could manage to get a handle on how chicken eggs carved up, I could do any kind of egg I wanted.

Of course my *perfect for this application* box of micro drill bits, which is DEFINITELY in this house because I see it *every time I don’t need it* decided to disappear now that I *do* need it, my tools were limited.  More/different tools probably would have led to earlier successes. Fortunately, there’s no shortage on eggs. (and no, none of the eggs were wasted- they were all used)

So by now some people are wondering how in the hell one carves an eggshell.  Maybe. I mean, if I’m lucky. I suppose the answer is “carefully.” But as a step by step process? Not that complicated.

1. Choose an egg.

This sounds easy but after you’ve screwed this up a few times? You get a feel for which eggs will work better.  The thicker the shell the easier it will be to work with without destroying after you’ve sunk four hours into it.  With more practice of course, you can go for more delicate and fragile shells.  How can you tell? Easiest way I’ve found is to simply hold them up to the light and see which ones you can see through the least.   I found that brown eggs were easier to screw up than white eggs, though realistically this could just be a matter of practice. Also, I don’t like brown, so take that as you will.   But you start to notice that though eggs are in general, egg shaped (or we’d call them something else) that there’s a great variety within that and you’re right away having to make aesthetic decisions about “what shape will work best.”  I suggest that your criteria start with “not broken.”

2. Great, so I have an egg. Now what?

Well now, we have to get the inside of the egg outside without crushing the shell.  My first attempts were seriously low-fi.  I used a safety pin.  While it’s possible to actually do this? Far more often? This is the result:

Again, you *CAN* get the egg out, but seriously, it’s a pain in the ass and unless you’re secretly Dizzy Gillespie, your cheeks get tired too.  So, screw the low fi method.  I broke out the machinery. In particular, my trusty flexible shaft machine (which as you will recall from many previous posts, is not a sex toy.)  As mentioned previously, my wonderful and fantastic array of micro drill bits has gone missing. However all was not lost, as I do have some tools to play with. In this case, a box of #52 carbide micro drill bits. ( For those who like engineering porn, the bits are .0635s)In short, they are wee. How wee?

Punch a hole in the top and bottom of the egg. FINDING the precise top and bottom is not unlike finding the north and south pole. I suggest “wing it, it’s close enough.”   I then went back in and made the hole on the bottom slightly larger using a micro cone diamond point file(if you follow this link it’s the one on the far left.). Then you go back and blow the inside of the egg out into a bowl.  It helps if you shake the egg every so often to break the yolk.    I then rinse the inside of the egg, but don’t make yourself nuts- it’s hard to get in there yet.    Let it dry.

3.  Then mostly it’s about going to town with micro sized tools, a flex shaft (or dremel) and lots of practice. I just sketched on the egg in pencil and went to town.  There were lots of failures. (eight, to be exact, at various stages.)

yet another failure.

Accidentally profound.

that was short lived.

4. But what about that icky membrane on the inside?

As you can see in the last photo, there isn’t one, but you can see it on all the others. Where did it go? How did I remove it? HOW SMALL WERE THE TWEEZERS?

Nope. No tweezers(I tried that. Doesn’t work well, btw.).  ORGANIC CHEMISTRY! SCIENCE!  CUE THOMAS DOLBY!

*boo doo doododo boo do doodoodo doo doo. boodoo. doo.* (this makes perfect sense if you’ve cued the Thomas Dolby properly.)

No, what you need is the exact opposite of what you need to color Easter eggs.  Easter eggs take color because the dye is combined with acid- generally vinegar. This makes eggshells softer and increases their porosity.  Color goes in, color stays in.   But egg *SHELLS* are not the same thing as the membrane on the inside of the egg. That’s just pure protein.  And what eats protein? Not acids, but bases.

Screw the science lesson- get a glass jar with a tight fitting lid(I used one of Stacy’s former jam jars) pour some bleach into it and carefully place the egg in.  Put the cap back on and watch science go to work.  20 minutes, half hour later? Carefully remove the eggshell and rinse in a water bath til it stops smelling like your white wash.

Succeggs.

5. But how did you get those circles so ROUND?

They aren’t. But if you’re asking how I did the touch up work to make them MORE round, I sketched out where they needed to be fixed, and used my cone file on a low speed.  If I were using a thicker egg, like emu or ostrich, high speeds are better because they produce more power and more torque.  But chicken eggs disintegrate under that kind of pressure, so low speed, very slowly, being careful and patient.  I’d mark off each hole that I’d “fixed” with a pencil.  After that, I just used plain soap and water (dish soap) and cleaned the pencil marks off.   Finally,  I let the whole thing dry.  Once it sits overnight you can clearly see the proteins the bleach didn’t get the first time because they will have oxidized and turned golden brown against the otherwise white shell.  Back into the bleach for you!  Just let it sit there for a couple hours to remove any remaining residue, and then rinse carefully.

6. So why did you do all of this?

Honestly? Cause spring is coming and some people collect eggs. If anyone wants to buy one, let me know. I’ve already been asked about black ones(doable).  I can also do gilded ones (silver and gold) as well.  I was thinking of trying squares, too.  But I  can only make like… Three, before I run out of places to put them(and Rupert destroys them) here so it’s mostly going to be a “by commission” thing.  However if you want one, let me know! I can certainly do larger ones as well.

Got it? Eggcellent.

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7 Comments

  1. Wow! No comments? That’s crazy. This is fascinating…AND funny! Maybe you should catagorize this under “humor” as well. Or maybe “crazy hobbies?” I mean, money-maker or not, if you enjoy it, it still constitutes hobby, doesn’t it?

    I came here out of curiosity because of your comment on Lynn Abbey’s site, and am I glad I did. I love “crazy hobbies” and how things are done, especially when explained with such delightful humor. I look forward to reading more of your archives and posts.

    (going on a hunt for the perfect egg…)

  2. Yipes! I forgot about the late, much lamented and beautiful table! What a shame. I’m so sorry. I know about that replacement thing. Might not seem as important, in the sense that it wasn’t the demise of a collector’s piece, but I had on of the original John Perry dolphin sculptures that my mother got for me for my twenty-first birthday (we’re talking an ancient piece, here.) It was, in its own way, very special to me.

    One day, our Darling Furry Children were chasing about the house and it went tumbling. Shattered one of the large dolphins. I contacted the company and they very kindly sent me a replacement, but they no longer make the dolphins in the same stylized form, and it was…white. The originals had long-since taken on a lovely golden tone. But…what the heck. We’re not SF authors for nothing. We just declared it an alien visitor. Or better yet, the white one was the Earth visitor on an alien planet. ;-]

    I hope, eventually, your new table top can take on the same good karma.

  3. Hi Jane!

    Nothing like a comment from a beloved author to wake you up significantly faster than you had planned… Welcome! 🙂

    This egg got more play over at MBUK , but I still need to write about what happened to this one. Don’t get too excited, if you look at the next photo you’ll see the success was short-lived.

    I’m just waiting until my kitchen is thoroughly clean (next day or so) before continuing, since I refuse to waste the eggs and I have four that need to be used.

    As to the table… I don’t even have words for that, though I suppose it goes to show I’m really an animal lover cause I didn’t throttle Rerun and Rupert (especially Rupert.)

    I can repair the base, though it will need reinforcing, but the glass is the huge loss here. I can get replacement glass (officially authorized reissue glass) from Herman Miller, but it’s $1060 for the replacement slab. Screw it, I’ll wait til the kittens are old enough so that chasing each other around like complete lunatics doesn’t sound like that much fun. But since you’re here I suppose I should post…um, more content.

    See, you’re a positive influence already. 🙂

    Oh and Lynn has a couple of my Xmas ornaments. I’m sure she’ll show you. 🙂

  4. You have more patience than God. I commend you for attempting (not to mention being successful) those eggs. They’re really cute. You should definitely make some for Christmas. If you start now you can have a bunch ready and sell them here or open an Etsy shop.

  5. I am working on making some backstock, but they are super time consuming and they tend to sell as soon as I make them. This past week I got an email for a potential egg exhibition overseas, but I need to nail down the details and ask a lot of questions before I make any firm decisions either way.

    I really do need to make another egg post showing the most recent ones. Probably after the one I’m just about done with now.

    And THEN I can finally get back to my design portfolio update.

  6. Nice art! Actually iv´e been working on photography- art, with structured surfaces don´e with eggs. Nice to see that i´m not the only one with a fascination for small things in life;)

    You can add me on msn, youv´e got my mail. I would like to have some advice in structuring up a wall. If you like to give me some advice.

  7. Hi Dani,

    Thanks very much for the compliment. As I’ve gotten more accustomed to working with the eggs, my success rate has improved quite a bit. I do still break them fairly often but way more get finished nowadays.

    I’ll be happy to shoot you an email about your egg wall.


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