Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Tonight I'm departing from my usual postings about my own artwork.  I received a rather unusual present for my birthday this year from Brad Miller, my daughter Jenni's boyfriend.  It arrived in a carefully packaged box...Brad was pretty excited about it, saying it was a combination of "nature and art".  I had no idea what it would be.  Upon opening the smaller box-in-a box submerged in shredded newspaper, I ever-so-gently removed a wonderfully delicate surprise.  A carved eggshell!!! 
When I called and asked Brad where he found such an unusual item, he said, "I made it!"  I was amazed, since I didn't realize artisans even did that sort of thing.  I asked Brad if he would mind sharing the process of his new-found hobby, and he was kind enough to send me a write-up and some photos. I'll let him take it from here!

I'm using a rotary tool (just got the new one), but the real tool is the dental stuff.  Probably the most popular is the Turbocarver which seems to be the best value out there for $600 for the tool and the compressor to run it.  Good rotary tools spin at 30 to 35,000 rpms...the "dental" tools spin at 400,000 rpms.

Drill a hole in the bottom of egg, then use a straw to blow out the egg.  Rinse with water and blow it out again...repeat a few times.  Rinse with alcohol to kill any bacteria, leave overnight to dry. (You can stick it in the microwave for 30 sec or a minute if you need one right away, but that may affect the structural integrity. I have found that it works though and never had problems.)
Lightly draw the pattern in pencil if needed (you can trace or stencil it if you have the right stuff) or free hand if you don't use a guide (like the pattern in the pics).  Carve away!  Finish with a small file or light sanding bit if needed or desired.  When all carving is done, soak it in a bleach bath for approximately 10 minutes or until the egg stops bubbling. (This eats away the inner membrane leaving a clean shell.)  Then rinse with water and soak/rinse in a baking soda and water mix for a few minutes, which neutralizes any leftover bleach.  Rinse again, set aside to dry.
I ordered some duck and goose eggshells online. You can find them for as cheap as $1.69 depending on the size, but that cheap usually requires a $40 minimum order.  Singles will be a few bucks plus $5 to ship, so bulk is a way better deal.  Emu and ostrich eggs run around $12 to $22.

Thanks, Brad!!!  The photo below (and the pic at the top) is one of his latest carvings on a nice GOOSE EGG.  Gorgeous work...keep doing more!
One last have no idea how hard it was to resist the obvious play on words for this post (i.e. EGGstravaganza, EGGstraordinary, EGG-citing, EGGtreme, EGGs-actly, EGGsplode, EGGcetra...)!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Here's a little sculpture project that I just finished this week. It's a side trip from what I was planning to be working on (i.e. my post on "King Hog Vs. Bullzilla"). I'll get back to that one eventually. This amusing little activity started during lunch break at work a couple of weeks ago. I brought in some Sculpy and my tools, and was joined by my friends Mark, Charlie and Edgar to just "goof around" and see what we came up with. For some time I'd been wanting to do a "Cowboy" series...looks like I've got the first one done now.

I started with a little wood block with a nail in it...added some aluminum foil to get a basic shape going, then added the clay. I had no pre-planned sketch this time. That came back to bite me later, as things got too heavy on the back side, and the direction the cowboy faced was too "upward". But it was interesting to just be spontaneous, too.
After getting the mouth, and kerchief completed, I added the nose and eyes and a bit more to the moustache.
That's all I could finish during two lunch breaks, so the rest of the project was completed at home. Next came the eyebrows, ears and hair. I used a heat gun to "cook" him...note the singed brows.
I used a piece of card-stock paper to make a pattern for the hat. I traced around that pattern onto the bottom of an aluminum baking pan. I doubled the shape side-by-side, cut it out and folded it in half for more strength. I poked holes into the metal, so that the flat, rolled-out clay would have something to hold on to.
After covering the top and bottom of the hat brim, I decided it would be better to bake the whole sculpt in the oven (200 degrees for 10 minutes). I put a piece of foil down in a pie pan and put it in the oven. You see it below on the stove-top cooling. Finally, I sculpted the top part of the hat, and baked it again.
Here's the final hat with a little rope hat band.
Because I had not thought ahead about the weight distribution, I had to add another piece of wood to the bottom for stability. Then I gave the whole piece a base coat of brown acrylic. Once dried, I could finish the painting with multiple glazes and dry-brushing.
And here's the final. If I do another one of these, I'll keep the hat as a separate piece, until all the bits are painted...a bit of a tight squeeze painting those hard-to-get-at areas.
Til' next time..."Happy Trails!"