Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Commissioned Goose egg from start to finish

I got a call from a friend of my Father-in-law who was interested in commissioning a Blue and White goose egg for her daughter's birthday. The above photo is the egg with concentric bands and staggered fish scales drawn in pencil to guide the wax process. I did not draw in everything, however, as it gets extremely complicated when you are waxing to see so many lines on your egg, not to mention smearing the graphite all over your pristine surface. Ready to wax.
As you can see, the initial waxing has taken place with melted beeswax in a writing tool called a "kitska". The beeswax is darkened so that when it comes out, it is easier to see. I used an extra fine tip on my electric kitska. Everything that has been waxed on this egg will remain white under the wax. The egg is now ready to be dipped into it's first color.
I decided to start with a light ice blue. I mix my acid-based dyes ahead of time in mason jars and buy plastic caps instead of the regular metal tops so the corrosive nature of the dye doesn't rust the metal and ruin the dye. I hold the egg down with an old spoon because it has been previously blown out, and it tends to float on top of the dye. I hold it under from 30 seconds to 2 minutes or more depending on the color and how vibrant I want it to be.
The dye has taken nicely, and I pat (not rub) the egg dry and let it rest a little before I work on it again. This allows the pores of the egg to close up again, and the wax to stick to a completely dried egg.
The color has lightened up a little, but still pleasing. I then wax in the small channels within the loops and the egg is ready for the next darkest dye.
I've decided the next color will be a light blue, a couple shades darker than the first. I repeat the dye bath process again. It doesn't take long at all for the dye to work.
Out of the dye bath, and patted dry-
and now waxing on the light blue egg. Everything that is waxed on this egg now will remain this shade of blue under the protection of the waxed lines.
And again, into the next dye bath. This time slightly darker still, a Royal Blue.
Coming out of the Royal Blue dye bath, and patted dry.
Waxing over every other of the fish scales and the flowers and the petals, and then into the last dye bath.
The last color is a Navy Blue. It is the darkest dye on the egg. The color will cover up anything on the egg that has not been previously waxed. I leave the egg in this dye a little longer than most so that there is a nice contrast between the lightest and the darkest color.
Wow. I can already see how nice this is going to be! Pat dry!
That is some intense blue at the top and in every other fish scale. I can't wait to unwax it!
After letting it dry out for a couple of hours, its off to the oven. I take an old cookie sheet, a paper coffee carrier (very useful and great way to recycle) and line it with a paper towel. The whole thing is placed into a cold oven, and turned on to a temperature of 175 degrees F. I walk away. Yes, people, walk away. Let the oven do most of the work for you. As you can see, the black wax is melting off the egg to reveal bright, clean colors. I open the oven door, put down an old towel (in case the slippery egg drops out of my hands) and polish the egg with a clean paper towel. I run my hand over the egg after putting it back in the oven and repeat the process. If the egg no longer feels sticky, you are done! Let the egg cool down, and the final step is to varnish the egg. I use a spray varnish with a UV protectant. This step is very important and you must varnish the egg! The dyes are water based, and should any moisture get onto an unvarnished egg, you could smear the design!
And here it is! The finished egg. I do like to document most of what I do. I have a small photo booth that I use to take pictures of the finished eggs. Sometimes I will send pictures along with the commissioned egg so that the patron or recipient can see the process from start to finish. That's a lot of work for an egg! This particular egg is headed to North Carolina. I hope she enjoys receiving it as much as I did creating it. I should mention that the above pattern was inspired by a china pattern called "Russian Imperial". This is my own version of it, and it can be done in many color variations.
For the rest of you eggers out there, have fun!