Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ukrainian egg demonstrations for 2012

The dates for my ukrainian egg demonstrations are now set in stone. These demos are all free and open to the public courteousy of these fine establishments:

Art On Main Gallery, Bristol, Vt
Saturday, March 10th, 11:00am-2:00pm

The Drawing Board, Montpeilier, VT
Saturday, March 17th, 12:00pm-2:00pm

Frog Hollow Gallery, Burlington, VT
Saturday, March 24th, 12:00pm-3:00pm

I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

First waxing on goose eggs

Here it is, February, and I am busily getting ready for Easter and Ukrainian egg demos. As you can see, I've started a clutch of goose eggs that will eventually travel to Frog Hollow Craft Gallery in Burlington for Easter. The designs have been drawn on lightly with pencil and then waxed over. The initial dark waxed lines you see will be white on the final unwaxing of the egg (the wax masks the color underneath and saves it during several different color dye baths). It's really fun to try wrapping a design around something bigger than a chicken egg. Goose eggs are excellent to etch with as well because of their sturdy shells. I have been busy photographing my designs into a binder as I go. It's slow going, but will be helpful for people to come to my studio and be able to pick out designs and colors for custom eggs. Once photographed, I also have lovely egg images that I can make prints and cards out of.  I have also taken the steps to illustrate my designs and several variations in the same binder. These end up being pattern sheets for classes I will give. Once I figure a design out, I will work it several different ways, and can end up with a 2-dimensional pen and ink illustration that is very graphic and will lend itself to paintings, borders and possibly some designs to silk screen onto various surfaces (that's another story/adventure for later). Way to use an image until you've rung the life out of it!

Acid-etched emu, goose and brown eggs

Here's a cool process for those who don't want to work with dyes, but love the natural color of various egg shells. These eggs are acid-etched with vinegar. This process will get you as close to an etched egg with a dremel without the hazardous dust and mess,  using the acid to do the work for you. You start by drawing your design on the egg with pencil as you would normally start a ukrainian egg. The design should not be too elaborate, fine or fussy, otherwise the lines will look a bit blurry. You want a somewhat open design where the contrast between light and dark is great. The more open the design, the more striking the egg will be. I find that using a medium kitska tip makes the lines bolder and less likely to float off the egg (this is why you want less fine lines or you will have trouble with the wax filling up tiny spaces you were planning on leaving open). One tip I can give you is to wax around the emptying hole and incorporate it into you design. The egg will already be weak from the acid bath, especially near the blow hole. It lessens the chance of breakage in the unwaxing process. When you are finished waxing, sink the egg with a light weight (a filled small soda bottle) into the vinegar bath. I find that it takes less than 10 minutes for a brown egg, and up to 1/2 hour for a goose egg. An emu takes longer. I usually take a soft old toothbrush after the first vinegar bath for the emu and gently scrub off some of the shell color and assess if I want it lighter. It will then go back into the acid bath a couple more times with gentle scrubbing in between. Once I am satisfied, I thoroughly rinse the egg with cold water and spray with Simple Green cleaning spray to neutralize the acid, and rinse again. I will allow the egg to rest at least a day. I will then wax the entire egg so that when the wax melts, it melts all over the egg and is uniform in color. If you don't wax the entire thing, you may find that your egg looks blotchy in color, some dark areas mixed with some matt lighter areas. You are then free to spray with varnish. I like gloss varnish best, but you could use a matt vanish to retain a more natural look. Either way, you want to varnish to give the egg a little more stability (remember that it will be more fragile than usual) and to keep oils from your hands from discoloring the shell during handling. Just a note: seek out organic eggs, or eggs from your local farmer, since those shells will tend to be stronger than eggs with thin shells that are fed antibiotics. Good luck!