Shadow Egg

Introduction: Shadow Egg

In the frenzy of decorating Easter Eggs, we decided to play around with a severely underused part of the egg - the inside.  No, not the yolk or the...other part of it, but the inside of the empty shell.  After a few experiments, we determined that we could put silhouettes inside an egg, light it from the inside, and create an illusion of people attempting to escape their calcium prison, or other such fun.  It was just a short leap to utilizing color for added effects, so we went to work on a fully developed Shadow Egg.  And here's how you can do the same!

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Step 1: Hollow the Egg

You'll want to do this first, as it takes a really long time for the inside of the egg to dry completely.  And, as we'll be glueing things to the inside egg wall, that's going to be important.  You will need an egg!  You will also need a thumbtack, a nail, a container of some sort (for the egg drippings), and a napkin (in case you make a mess).

Start by poking a small hole into the bottom of the egg with the thumbtack.  Then, using the nail, gradually increase the size of the hole by gently tapping away at the sides of the hole you've created.  Once the hole is big enough for the tip of a finger to get through it, it's time to flip the egg over and let it drain into the bowl.  You may need to use the nail to break up the contents so it drains easier.

Once the egg is empty, fill it with water and dump it out a few times until the water runs clear, so you know it's clean.  Set it on the napkin (hole side down), and let it dry while you move on to the next step.

Step 2: Optional: Build a Light Bulb

When we first started developing this project, we attempted using an electronic tealight you can pick up at any craft store.  However, we quickly discovered that while the light is bright enough to cast creepy shadows, it just wasn't powerful enough to give us the effect we were going for.  And after two days of searching, we couldn't find a suitable alternative, so we jerry-rigged a super-bright LED to a resistor and a battery.

If you just want to cast shadows, go ahead and use a tealight.

If you want to project colors, like we did, here's a brief electronics lesson:

First of all, if you have no experience with electronics, don't fear!  Go to a store like Radio Shack or Fry's or J and K Electronics where people know how to build circuits and ask them questions.  They will recommend LEDs, resistors, etc, and you'll be good to go.

You will need an LED (as bright as you can find it, and white so the colors stay the color they're supposed to be), a battery connection, and a resistor, so that you don't overload the LED and burn it out.  The resistor will change based on the LED and the battery.  Personally, I used a 9V battery and a 300ohm resister.  Together, all of this'll cost around $6.50, depending on where you go.


Attach the longer of the two wires coming out of the LED light to the resistor.  Attach the other end of the LED to the BLACK wire.  We wanted to be able to turn the LED on and off, and were too cheap to buy a switch, so we left the red wire loose.  We could turn the light on by simply touching the exposed part of the wire to the other end of the resistor.  Also, as a happy side effect, it gave us a neat flicker effect that looked like lightning or surging electricity; perfect for a laboratory environment.

Now, a word about what I mean by "Attach".  In a perfect world, I mean solder.  We had no soldering gun.  In a near-perfect world, I mean use a breadboard or a project box from the electronics store.  Again, not so much.  We used electrical tape to get the wires to stay together.  If you use this method, know that it takes time and focus, so be patient.

After this, you can simply slip the cover over the LED, and you have a neat little stand for your egg!

Step 3: Planning!

Now, before you can get started at all, you have to know what you're making.  Get out a sheet of paper, an image-editing program, whatever helps you think.  Look at your egg and let it speak to you.  The effect we're making is that you're looking at an egg with a basic image on it, then you flip a switch or touch some wires together, and another image magically appears.  Are you making ghosts?  Adding fire behind a dragon?  The sky's the limit, here!  So take a few minutes to draw up your plans and figure out what goes inside the egg and what goes outside.

For me, I knew the teleporter pods would always be there.  Turning on the light would make the teleportation happen, with people and chickens appearing in fields of warped colors.

Step 4: Image Gathering

You can do this one of two ways: on a computer or by hand, depending on what you're more comfortable with.  Either way, your goal is to fill a paper with little images that'll go inside your egg.  Black images will appear as shadows, while colors will be projected onto your egg wall.  Keep in mind that we're not building a real projector, so you probably don't want anything too detailed.  Fields of color, fire, things like that should work nicely.  I say you want to fill a page because you'll be getting a special print of these images, and you want to get your money's worth.  Come up with two or five eggs, maybe they all work together, maybe they don't, just have fun!

Keep in mind also that these pictures will be stuffed up into an egg.  So if they're wider than the hole you made in the bottom of the egg, you'll have some trouble.

Step 5: Make It See-Through!

Take your computer-made image or your hand-drawn sheet of paper to your local Office Max, Office Depot, Staples, etc.  Tell them you want them to print out your image, or make a copy of it, onto acetate, which is basically an overhead projector sheet.  This'll cost just about $1.00, but it's still a dollar for a whole page.  And what are you going to do with pieces of blank acetate, right?  So if you haven't filled your page yet, fill it now!  Even if you just want to make a few extra copies of things in case you make a mistake.

Step 6: Slice and Dice

Go get an exacto knife.  Or a pair of scissors.  Or anything sharp, really.  Cut your images apart so you can place them individually into the egg.

Step 7: Glue Stuff in the Egg

Krazy glue is going to be your friend here.  Unless it gets on your clothes, skin, eyes, mouth or anything other than your acetate.  In other words, be careful.  Also, be aware that this stuff might smear your ink.  So if you put two pieces of acetate together or when you glue stuff to the inside of the eggshell, either be really precise, or be aware of which side of the sheet has the ink on it.  If you tilt it back and forth in the light, the side that looks shinier, and doesn't change when it hits part of your image, that's the better side to apply the glue.

So if you're like me, you may have to layer two images together, take some time to do that.  Once that's done (or if you don't have to), it's time glue things into the egg.  Before you begin, make sure the inside of your egg is dry.  If it isn't, wait until it is, otherwise you'll suffer a lot of heartbreak.

The basic process is this: apply glue to the image.  Balance the image on your finger, stick your finger into the egg, and press the glued side into the side of the egg and hold it there for a minute or two.  You'll need to apply just enough pressure to keep the image in place, but not so much that you crack it.  If you do crack it, however, krazy glue actually creates a nice little liquid-eggshell-bandage, as we found out.

Now, since you've already gotten a super-bright light that fits inside your egg (you did, right?) you can put it inside your egg now and see how your effect is shaping up.  If anything that you'll be drawing on the outside of your egg is based on the stuff inside (the teleporters are based on how big the color fields are), pencil in some reference points for you to...well, refer to when you're drawing on your egg in the next step.

Step 8: Draw on the Outside of the Egg

I leave this step for last, because it is very very hard to aim when you're gluing things inside your egg.  If you need to make adjustments, it's much easier to adjust where you're drawing than to adjust where you're gluing.  I prefer Sharpies for this step, because it gives a nice comic strip feel, and by looking at a black-and-white egg, people will be surprised to see colors appear!  Also, people expect colors and designs on Easter eggs.  Defy their expectations with black and white.

Also, a black Sharpie will block the light coming from inside the egg.  Markers will let a little light bleed through, which can give you some interesting effects.  Using a blue for a night sky, for example.  Bonus points for reusing that thumbtack to poke a few stars in the sky.

Step 9: Show It Off!

At this point, you've glued some stuff to the inside, you've drawn some context on the outside, and you have an egg that tells a story.  Place the egg on the light stand and show people what you've done!  Or, just keep it to yourself and enjoy the Zen-like beauty you've created!

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