Eggshells are more than packaging once transformed into beautiful works of art! This guide will outline the major methods of egg art or eggery, which are dyeing/painting, batik-dyeing (such as Ukrainian eggs or pysanky), Faberge-style, carving, scratch work, and decals.
Dyed eggs or painted eggs can be as simple as what we make with children at Easter or as complex as a fine tip marker will allow. The pigments are placed on the egg in succession to form the design, as is done in most painting, drawing, and paper crafts.
Batik-dyed eggs, also known as Ukrainian eggs or pysanky, are dyed in progressively darker colors with each level of lighter color within the design preserved with wax. At the end, the wax is melted away to reveal the full design. For example, any areas that will be white must be covered with hot wax before the egg is dyed yellow. Then any areas to remain yellow must be covered before the egg is dyed green, and so on until the final dye color is reached. Then the wax is melted off and the egg is ready for a protective finish. This design method originated in the Ukraine where the decorated eggs are called pysanky and made to celebrate Easter. Batik-dyed eggs are different from painted eggs in that they are smooth, and the design is often geometric and involves the entire egg. Sometimes eggs are touched up with markers or paint, especially to add any gold or silver accents.
Faberge-style eggs are so named after the famous Faberge egg boxes made as surprise gifts for the royal family in Russia hundreds of years ago. Faberge-style eggs can be extremely ornate and have hinged doors or openings, but some are quite simple with only a window cut out to reveal a scene inside. These eggs are often painted and have many trims and jewels glued on the outside as adornments. An example of a very elaborate Faberge-style egg would be an ostrich egg turned into a carousel and fitted with mechanisms to move and play music.
Carving is used to create delicate openings in some Faberge-style eggs, but it becomes an entirely different art form when used on emu eggs. These eggs are dark green on the outermost layer and become lighter as the carving goes deeper. This allows for shading, giving shadows and highlights, to produce striking images. Artists must carve with a special drill and use extreme caution.
Scratch work has traditionally been used on eggs dyed brown with onion skins. The layer of dye is then carefully scraped through with a razor blade. This art form was popular in the Pennsylvania Dutch region and is still performed there by some women today. The technique is similar to scratchboard and similarly uses lots of cross-hatch techniques for shading.
Finally, decals can be applied to eggs to easily reproduce intricate, professional works of art. Unfortunately, many people buy decal eggs assuming they have been hand painted or drawn. Pay attention to how fine the detail work is and the uniformity of any repeats. You can identify a real hand painted egg by the raised texture of the lines, but this may be impossible if it was well varnished.
What can you make from an egg?
Standing ornaments, hanging ornaments, jewelry, jewelry boxes, doll teacups, working lamps... anything you can imagine!
Any kind of egg can be used, so these methods, which are often combined, appear in all sizes!