Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Egg #16- Wedding egg, etched goose egg with pearl mica powder

     This particular egg posed a challenge to me right off the bat. I wanted to try creating a goose
egg that was etched, and the majority of the shell would be left white with a hint of some pastel iridescent color dropped in. This is not my typical type of egg, being a little out of my element, and something that I would not normally set out to do. Etching an egg is usually a means to and end. I find that I am also often heavy-handed with color, on eggs and in my own art. Leaving something without color or texture goes against everything that I typically do. I also find that while I love creating what some would label as feminine, I tend to put an edge on these creations. Now, just a note, there were two eggs that I had started previously for this theme, and neither of them worked out. The first egg was not etched deep enough, and did not have enough "open work" left for the acid to get into the nooks and crannies and give a nice deep etch. The second egg etched well enough, but I had decided to paint with soft pastel colors in some of the open channels in the etching. Half way through the painting process, I decided that it was not going well. Both eggs had a butterfly theme, and a double set of rings with a bow. I abandoned both the first and second egg rather painfully. I was hoping that the third time was the charm. Now to come up with a new concept for the egg. All white. Etched deeply and simply. So, without further adieu, for the third and final time, here we go...
I first divide the egg into fourths using my egg lathe. I cut the egg in half with a line at the equator, giving me eight sections. I pick one line, and measure vertically on either side of it 3/4" all the way around and back again. I connect small marks I make as I am measuring. That will give me a 1 1/2" band that divides the egg in half. I measure out on either side a 1/8" band, then a 1/4" band, and one more 1/8" band. In all, I should have 7 bands, the largest being in the middle. I divide the large band (I measured, and in this case, the math worked out to be an equal number of 1/2" long rectangles. I cut those rectangles in half with a pencil mark on the side every 1/4" and then I started diagonally connecting lines that went through the middle of each 1/2" rectangle.
I did the same for the opposite sides, so that I had a criss-cross of lines. This will become my "lattice" for the egg. I always think of lattice and trellises when I think of outdoor weddings. Also it satisfied my creative need for some detail and texture, especially if I had to live without color on this egg. As I connected the lattice strips that went under the first set of diagonal strips, I used my blue mechanical pencil lead and started lightly coloring in where the open work of the lattice. This will help me separate what to wax and what sections to leave open for the acid that will etch the egg later. Trust me, with all this line work, it could be very confusing to keep it all straight!
As you can see, I have just about completed the lattice work and coloring in the open spaces.
I decided to keep part of the original design of the double rings that were intertwined with ribbon, as they were with themselves. This will be considered the back of the egg.

I start to wax the initial lattice lines that remain "unbroken" with a fine kitska. Also, I wax the outline of each border, and the 1/4" border gets a nice wavy stem line for vine work that will come later.
From this photo, I have waxed in the under layers of lattice and left a little space for etching purposes. It will give a slight shadow in the etching process, and help with the illusion that the lattice is woven. I also start waxing in the long fern like leaves on either side of the vine stem.
I wax the rings and the ribbon with a fine kitska and "beef" up the lines a little, knowing that any super fine lines might float right off the egg during the etching process. I switch to a medium kitska and fill in the 1/8" border with wax. I want a nice thick banded look in between the vine border and the lattice border. I do this for all the 1/8" bands.
I continue to fill in the lattice strips with my medium kitska. I don't wax anything in that had been previously shaded blue. It sure did help with keeping things straight.
Like the bow and rings, I draw a 1/4" grid on the medallion or oval part of the egg. I use the cross that is already there from dividing the egg into eighths. This helps me center my design. In the case of the rings and bow, it helped me keep the design as symmetrical as possible. I also finally decide at the last minute to change the design from the original butterfly motif to the doves. The grid is still helpful to keep the design somewhat centered and balanced. I outline the two doves with a fine kitska, but will be filling in most of the sections for a solid looking design (much like cutting a wood block for printmaking). I have the taller of the two doves (the male) raising his feathers over the female. It reminds me of the Medieval custom of placing a cloak over your betrothed to symbolize that she is now under your protection.
Here are the pair being filled in. This, of course, will be a raised part of the etching. Everything else that is waxed will be etched away with acid, leaving a step down in the design.
After checking all of the waxed line work, I am ready to etch. I am using Acid Magic (hydrochloric acid) to take down part of the shell. I am wearing protective gloves, eye wear, a mask and have opened a window to the studio. I also have the water running in my wash basin (plastic utility sink), just in case. It is a weak acid solution, never the less... better safe than sorry. I let the acid do it's work for about a minute. I take it out and gently rub the surface of the shell, and remove the debris. I dunk again for another minute, and repeat the process another 3 times.

After I am satisfied by running my finger over to see how raised my waxed design is compared to the step down of the etched shell, I rinse under water well, gently scrubbing one more time with the white magic eraser sponge, then I use a little Ivory dish washing liquid and rub over the surface of the egg to neutralize the acid and rinse well and pat dry.
Hard to see from this photo how well the egg etched. I let the egg rest at least 30 minutes and dry out. I also carefully insert a hot kitska into the drain hole plug and let the air get up and inside the egg too.
After the egg has rested, it is time to unwax. I use an old cookie sheet that has been deemed for just this use, a paper coffee carrier and I line it with paper towels to soak up the melting wax. I rub a little olive oil over the entire shell to aid the wax in slipping off the nooks and crannies of the etched egg.  I put the whole sheet into a cold oven, and turn it on to 175 degrees F. I walk away, and come back in about 15 minutes. I gently wipe off the excess wax with toilet paper (softer than abrasive paper towels). I return it to the oven one more time for another 5 minutes, take it out, and remove wax until no longer feels sticky.
You can see that the wax has melted almost completely off, but I have some pencil lines, and some blue lines to get rid of. After the egg has cooled down, I use the Ivory liquid dish soap and a tooth brush and scrub the wax residue, and pencil lines off. Now I have a pristine white etched egg.
Here is the front with the doves.
Here is the over/under weave of the lattice. It took some patience to draw and wax this, but I think it was well worth it, don't you?

Here is the other side of the egg with the set of double rings and ribbon. But...we are not quite finished with this egg. It was suggested by my daughter that I should have some sort of subtle finish on the egg that gave it a rich feel without taking away from the simplicity of the etched design itself. She had thought that a pearl luster would be just the thing. In the end, I had to agree with her, and we settled on the pearl...bear with me a few more frames...
Using a gloved hand and a bamboo skewer to help hold the egg, I use a soft angled stencil brush and a micro pearlescent metallic powder and swirl and burnish the fine powder onto the egg surface making sure I get it into all the nooks and crannies, but leaving nothing loose on the surface.
You can see a slight sheen or luster on the egg. It is a very subtle finish, but just gives the egg that little extra special sparkle. I put the egg on the bamboo skewer and lightly mist with Golden's MSA Hard solvent based varnish. I let it dry for about an hour, and give the egg a second coat of pearl luster, and varnish on top of that once more. After that dries, I give the egg a dip in the liquid MSA varnish for a nice thick protective coat. It really brings out the luster, don't you think?
Look at that tiny, pearly sparkle! Sublime. And here is the finished goose egg:

I hope you've enjoyed the trials, tribulations and the final process of this egg. I think it's finally time to celebrate, throw the garter and cut the cake!

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