Instructables

Carving a lattice and acanthus pattern on an emu egg shell

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Picture of Carving a lattice and acanthus pattern on an emu egg shell
I created this project with the amazing Faberge eggs in mind. My approach was to combine the precision and beauty of the famous Faberge eggs with modern tools and possibilities. I used an emu egg because of the natural layers and colors that it contains. Nothing on this egg shell is painted or dyed. This piece is meant to be contemplated up close.

The columns are stylized acanthus leaves carved in relief using the mainly the turquoise layer. The lattice is formed by removing multiple layers from around the outermost layer. The white negative space was made this way intentionally. I thought it would provide the best background for the darker colors of the foreground. In addition, when displayed where light is allowed to enter the pierced areas, that very light will show through the thin white portions of the design. I meant for this to give the effect of looking through a window where light penetrates a thin plant canopy and casts small light forms on the floor, walls and windows.
 
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Step 1: Safety first

I give the egg a quick wipe down with alcohol to reduce the chances of Salmonella existing on the eggshell. Then wash the shell in water and dry thoroughly. Be sure to wear a surgical mask to help prevent breathing the dust created. It is not healthy at all to inhale this stuff.

Step 2: A good design starts with basics

Picture of A good design starts with basics
2 egg markers.JPG
Begin by marking a grid pattern on the egg. This can be done by stacking various household items like books or blocks of wood. A better method is to use an egg marker. There are a few available which I will not mention by name as I do not want to show favoritism. However, egg markers are easily found through the International Egg Art Guild.

Step 3: Begin drawing the design

Picture of Begin drawing the design
Step 3 is to draw the lattice pattern on the egg using the grid as a guide to keep the lines of the lattice evenly spaced
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Hello ! I really want to try this egg pattern. I have a Dremel tool, and I am not sure if the bits used to create this are that of Dremel. Is there a conversion chart or a way to figure out what i need? Thanks! Great work!
Brian Baity (author)  debbienthedesert1 year ago
Hello Debbie,

I do not know of a conversion chart. you could easily get the burrs I used from Profitable Hobbies (800) 624-7415. I am told there is a collet that can be purchased as well which will allow the 1/16th inch burrs to go directly into the Dremel tool. I have not confirmed this because I do not own a Dremel tool and I personally would not try to carve eggs with a Dremel tool. I have a different slow speed tool and I have done a little work on eggs with it and I do not like how it performs. Good luck Debbie, I would love to see how your project turns out. and thank you for your kind supportive words.
smichaud3 years ago
Phenomenal work and instructions! THANK YOU for sharing with the world! It was no small commitment of time to share your talents and skills with everyone. I for one, and very grateful!
csup3 years ago
Hi, just had to drop my "I'm in total awe" comment here as well :)
I get all warm inside whenever I encounter a situation where talented people are also able to produce a polished realization of their beautiful vision, and here I just melted. You have marvelous skills, thanks for sharing :)
Wonderful !!!
:O :O :O :O WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
blinkypoet5 years ago
All I can say is "Wow!" repeatedly! I first ran across your egg carving work on flickr and needless to say, am happy to have found this eggcellent tutorial! Now I've got something else to do with all those eggs!! ~Blinky the beading emu herder
Brian Baity (author)  blinkypoet5 years ago
I am pleased that you found the instructions worthwhile. Do you have many eggshells just lying around? I am always lookng for good sources of quality eggshells. There are many available that are not what I would prefer to work with. Thanks for checking out the stuff on Flickr and for your complimets.
lots! unfortunately many of them go to waste since we don't have the time/manpower to drill & empty all of them. We also have rhea eggs. What is meant by quality? smoothness of shell, shell thickness, hole size, etc? And would you be interested in putting carved eggs up for sale on the web at all?
Brian Baity (author)  blinkypoet5 years ago
I will address quality first. Maybe I am expecting too much but I would like to see a hole 1/4 inch or less to drain them. Also, when the hole is placed in the end for draining it seems that more eggs are cracked than I would have thought. The crack is often undetectable until one starts working with the shell. If I can handle the eggshells before I buy them I inspect them very carefully by sight and sound in an effort to detect cracks. Again addressing the drain hole, most eggs have an obvious top and bottom. I would like to see the hole in the bottom (the wider end of the eggshell). in a perfect world I would like to find thick shells as well. Since I like to carve them in relief, a thick shell would be the greatest find. Smoothness could be addressed as well. Not so much for me as I like the natural look the bird and nature think an egg should have. Since I don't apply paint or images the smoothness does not matter to me as much. I am sure other egg artists would feel differently on the smoothness issue. I am told some egg folks sand the outer layer before beginning their projects. Second, I am saddened that there are eggs going to waste. If I lived close enough I would be willing to drill and drain them so I could get a good product for a good price. I am in the Salt Lake City area and I have not yet found a good local source. I have to mail order them and pray that I get shells I like. Rhea shells are also nice to carve. I hope to do more in the future. Take care and thanks for the continued interest. I am enjoying chatting with you and a few of the others that are now communicating with me. Brian And for selling my eggs, yes I do intend to sell them. I have sold quite a few simple designs locally. My greatest fear for some of the more intricate pieces is delivery method. For this egg to be delivered to New York City, I flew there and delivered in person and again a flight there to bring it home. I could not find any shipper that would take on the task and allow me to insure it. I guess I could build stronger designs but that would bore me. I am already working on a new design that will push far beyond what I have already done in complexity and fragility. I am willing to take commissions too.
Hello there
I, too, am an egg shell carver. Ostrich, Emu and rhea. May I make a suggestion for your mailing of eggshells?

I wrap mine in bubblewrap, place in box and put peanuts around bottom, sides and top.

The I take a box a little larger. Place the first box inside, bubblewrap around the first box, top, sides and bottom.

Your eggs should arrive safely.

I have mailed mine as far as Japan - from Texas - and did not have any broken.

Let me know when next you mail an egg and how it arrives - if you use my method.

TexasMasterEggCarver
I have several emu's and eggs that I can afford to get rid of. I do have a source that comes to the salt lake city area at least once a month. They would transport them for me to you. Let me know what you think. I am not great on extended web sites, so using my regular email will be best. rk80930@netscape.com
Ghost Wolf3 years ago
Amazing detail I would get impatient the second I started
Redlulu4 years ago
This is one of the nicest examples of egg art I've seen in a very long time. You should be very proud and pleased with this, excellent.... standing applause...
Brian Baity (author)  Redlulu4 years ago
Thank you for taking the time to comment and for your kind words
Potbellymom4 years ago
I have checked out some of your other carving and I have to say, your patience and skill are nothing short of breathtaking!! I can't imagine the delicacy of the work you do. You are a truly gifted artist who may well be able to give up your meticulous other career in favor of being a well-sold professional artist. Kudos to you for winning against such tough competition! And only your 4th emu egg, too!!
Butterfly085 years ago
Hi Brian I visited your web site, and was inspired for sure. I was wondering, did you receive my questions at your web site? I had asked a few questions, but didn't receive a response. I am starting something in a lattice design, and wondered if you could give some advice. Myrna
Brian Baity (author)  Butterfly085 years ago
I was out of town on vacation. I am now home and have responded throught email to your questions. Thank you for your kind compliments about the website. Brian
Butterfly085 years ago
Hi again, I hope I'm not too much of a bother. I went to your web site and seen some beautiful work there; you are very talented for sure. The last year I have become interested in Pysanky, and most enjoy the colours and shine of the finished egg. There by, my question: When I finish a Ukrainian egg, I spray it with protective coating, and it's very shiny. Do you spray anything on your emu eggs? And if so, what do you use. I shall try and send a picture of my first emu egg, and perhaps you could critique it. I am unable to get the protective domes anywhere around this area, and find them too expensive on the net. You got any suggestions? Having fun, Myrna
Brian Baity (author)  Butterfly085 years ago
Dear Myrna, You are no bother at all, I promise. If we don't share what we know, what is the point of knowing it? I must admit I like Pysanky a lot as well. I have not made one but I would like to try it in the future. For the eggs I have coated I spray them with a high quality polyurathane. I think that for the pysanky a high gloss would be best. I, like you, think they look really good with a high gloss. For the emu eggs, I use a semi-gloss because I like a more natural look for the pieces I have done. I would use a high gloss if I thought the piece would look better with a high shine. I would love to see your egg. As for the protective domes I might be able to give you recommedations if I knew where you live. If you do not want to put that information on this website you can send it direct to my email: brianbaity.studio@gmail.com You can send your photos here as well. I look forward to hearing from you again, Brian Baity
Butterfly085 years ago
I just came across this site while looking for, you got it, instructions on emu eggs. I have never seen anything so beautiful as yours, it is phenomenal. Silly question I guess, but even though you put a protective coating on the egg, do you have to protect it from light? You wouldn't want it to fade. I am just beginning, and finished my very first egg yesterday. It is quite simplistic compared to yours, but wonder if you have a web site for me to get further instruction on carving emu eggs. I love working on them. Thanks so much, and again .......... great work Myrna
Brian Baity (author)  Butterfly085 years ago
Hello Myrna, Thank you for your compliments. I use a high quality polyurathane which is supposed to shield against UV damage. I am still fairly new to carving emu eggs this being the fourth one I have carved. Also I keep the eggs I carve out of sunlight. More information might also be found from the folks belonging to the international egg art guild. I had not thought about keeping the colors protected. I have always worried more about fragility. I still have not found a good answer to strengthening the eggs I carve. I will now start researching the color-fastness of eggs and how to protect them. If I get anything useful I will let you know. I do have a website: www.brianbaitystudio.com all of my contact info is there as well. If you have a photo of your egg send it along if you email me. I would like to see it. Emu eggs are fun to carve. I just ordered a bunch more so I can work on some more projects. I really like how they have multiple layers of different colors. Thanks for writing Myrna and again for your kind words. Brian Baity
Apparently you blow out the egg first. Can you tell me how exactly this is done with an emu egg? Could the egg insides not be removed when one pierces the shell? Also, what would be best to practice these techniques on before the first attempt at an actual egg? The price for a fresh emu egg here is very expensive, even though we have many emu farms locally.
Brian Baity (author)  CarolinadeWitte5 years ago
Hello Carolina (hope I got that right), As for the blowing out, I buy them already empty. There is a hole in the bottom between 1/4" and 1/2". I have never blown one out. I asked someone once when I bought an egg how they did it. I was told they drill a hole in the bottom. Then they insert a hollow tube into the hole which is hooked to an air compressor. Kind of like what you see at the gas station to fill your car tires. They then turn on the air and all the egg comes out around the tube. They also said the egg can be eaten but it does not taste very good. I was also told that an emu egg is equal to about 12 chicken eggs. I practice on goose egg shells but they are not as thick so they break easier. As far as using the different layers, I do not know of another egg shell that has distinctive layers like the emu. As for emu carving techniques, I am still learning myself. This is only the fourth emu shell I have carved. For the same reason you quote, price, I have avoided carving them until a co0uple of months ago. I am hooked now though and will carve many more. If you ask the folks at the international egg art guild they can give you some inexpensive sources. I recently bought some from the eggery place. You can google them. they are easy to deal with and have lots of different shells to play with. I hope this helps. I will answer any other questions you might have if I know the answers. Brian
Brian Baity (author) 5 years ago
I wish to put forth a thought about this site. The contest was fun with many quality entries. I did not know about this site until a friend told me about this contest. I have since been coming here often and have found many new ideas which are both interesting and useful. Thank you, instructables for running the contest. Also, I want to thank the Forbes organization for their sponsorship of this project. I have been a fan of Faberge eggs for years and it is a fantastic honor being able to present this carving to people with such a great appreciation of Peter's work. Contestants, one and all, you all are also owed a thankful mention. For without you and your talents this contest would not have succeeded. Your time and efforts are to be applauded. Finally, I want to offer a few words of appreciation to those who have supported me throughout the last couple of years as I developed my artistic hand. T and Becci of Q4U Tony and Maria from Olympian Grill Lew, Carole, Tamaree, Gloria, Lisa, Russ all from Profitable Hobbies My family and far too many friends to list by name And in closing, my wife Nelly, who's unending faith in me carries me through all my struggles. THANK YOU ONE AND ALL!!
I do know the skill level and have distinct appreciation for a very gifted designing artist (which is a zillion miles for a reporducing artist) and you Bi - are a very gifted designing artist - and now history will prove what I have believed in you for some time now - and rightly so. Your work is amazing. Your skill and your passion both show (and even at this late hour - exactly 2:26 am) when everyone thinks I just play - or I am just in it for the money - I still must stop and congratulate my long time friend. Your work is truly extraordinary. Dr. Lew
Brian Baity (author)  Dr. Lew Jensen5 years ago
Thank you Lew for taking time out of your very busy schedule to comment and to offer your support. You and the folks at Profitable Hobbies are certainly leading contributors to my being in this contest at all. Keep up the good work and many more will follow. Brian Baity
oldhamedia5 years ago
Congratulations on being a winner!!! This is fabulous!
Brian Baity (author)  oldhamedia5 years ago
Thank you. I see your project was popular as well. I am really fond of amber so when I saw your entry I was intrigued. I have collected many pieces with insects in them. I never thought of making my own in any shape or size. Your idea shows great creativity. Keep up the good work. Brian
Brian Baity (author)  oldhamedia5 years ago
thank you for commenting and your thoughts.
mmh5 years ago
Very creative with nice technical, crafstmanship and design. Your patience and talents show well in your work. I admire the challenges you put yourself through, as I can see you're always trying to learn from your projects. Very well done! Congratulations!
Brian Baity (author)  mmh5 years ago
Thanks again for commenting. Congratulations to you as well. I think shipping your winning project will be easier than an egg shell full of holes. Your project is certainly creative. Imagination is a great attribute and obviously you fit in the group who think outside the norm. Keep up the good work. Brian
mmh5 years ago
Congratulations! You display very impressive technique and design in your work. Your patience and skill show through your work. You must be an engineer or someone who loves intricate detail!
Brian Baity (author)  mmh5 years ago
Thank you for giving of your time to write. Your comment about intricate detail is correct. I am a metrologist which is a big word for a person who calibrates electronic test equipment and also physical standards like scales and weights. often we work in parts per million or smaller. Attention to detail is a must to be successful in this industry. Thanks again, Brian
Faro5 years ago
Congratulations! Lovely entry.
Brian Baity (author)  Faro5 years ago
Thank you Faro, the selection for the judges to choose from was great. I am glad I didn't have to be one of the judges.
Carole B.5 years ago
Congratulations Brian. I think your work is truly fabulous. My Best Wishes to you. Carole B.
Brian Baity (author)  Carole B.5 years ago
Thank you Carole for writing. I hope they do this again in the future. I think the level of involvement is worthy of another go. Best wishes to you as well. Brian Baity
egger15 years ago
Congrats on your win! A wonderful reward for all your precise and meticulous work! You are an inspiration to other eggers! Thank you!
Brian Baity (author)  egger15 years ago
Dear Glenis, Thank you for all the nice things you wrote. To offer my opinion I thought your Imperial Red should have been in the final 5. I voted for it and I know some of my family did as well. You did a great job and I also think you have great skill and a good artistic eye. Thanks again for your comment, Brian
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