When emptied of their contents and allowed to dry, chicken, duck, or goose eggshells form an “egg-cellent” base that can be covered with polymer clay to form sturdy ornaments and decorative objects for Easter or other holidays.
Saving up blown and dried eggs throughout the year is the easiest way to do a really large number. Holiday baking (click here for some favorite recipes) can be a good time to blow out lots of eggs, and there are ways to do it more effectively and with no ear-popping results.
There are egg blowing bulbs available and they are often used in creating Pysanky, the Ukrainian style eggs that are dyed using wax resists as are batik fabrics. Many layers are applied and stunning results are achieved. Polymer clay covered eggs can borrow from the designs and some of the tools as well.
Here’s a link to The Caning Shop, which carries supplies for gourd crafts, chair caning, and basketry as well as pysanky supplies.
I blow the eggs the old-fashioned way, but some people may not be comfortable getting that close to an eggshell with their mouth.
Get the egg blower tools to avoid having to do that.
I start by rinsing and drying the eggs with a soft towel.
Get a bowl out to catch the raw eggs.
Using a metal shish-kebob skewer that was in my drawer of kitchen stuff (you can also use a small sharp knife tip or a large needle) I locate the central point of the egg and tap it gently but with enough force to start chipping a little hole.
Keep it small in order to keep the eggshell intact as much as possible, but large enough to get the raw egg out. Do this on the other end of the egg too.
Then insert a large, clean sewing needle and stir the egg inside the shell to break up the yolk and make it all easier to remove.
Because I blow them out using my breath but my mouth does not touch the raw egg, just the eggshell.
I am careful to wash my mouth afterwards, but I have no fear of using the eggs to bake cookies or make a quiche or an omelet.
My son won’t eat the eggs if he sees me doing this though, so do remember to watch out for squeamish family members!
I put my mouth over the small end of the egg as though it were a blowpipe.
Filling my cheeks with air and forcing that into the egg rather than blowing hard from my lungs keeps me from popping my ears while doing several eggs.
This is similar to the difference in giving infant CPR and adult CPR for those of you that have had your Red Cross Emergency First Aid Training–and if you haven’t, you can learn it free through most Fire Stations and YMCA’s.
After blowing out all the contents of the egg, wipe the shell with a paper towel, and allow it to sit in the egg container.
Although some people rinse the insides of the egg with water, the coating of dried egg will strengthen the shell.
As it gets baked when the clay is applied there is no extra health risk. However, egg dust is a known irritant, so if you are going to use a saw or cut into the eggs with power tools later, wear a mask.
Allow the eggs to dry for several days.
Be sure to turn them over once in a while, and remove any egg material that drips out before it hardens. When completely dried, eggs are ready to cover with a strengthening layer of clay.
A thin base layer of clay is applied to the blown and dried eggs and baked, then a decorative outer layer of clay is applied. The base layer makes it easier to smooth the outer layer without cracking the egg. If you are used to pushing more firmly, you may prefer using a very thin layer of clay wrapped around the egg and baked, but this gives a much heavier finished product. This can be done with thin sheets of polymer clay rolled to a #5 or #6 setting on the pasta machine. However, I now often use the liquid clays for this purpose and find that one or two coats of the colored TLS (Translucent Liquid Sculpey) or liquid Kato Polyclay is sturdy enough for work done with a delicate touch.
Available in clear, gold, silver and black, the colored formulations of the liquid clays are much thicker than the clear formulation and one generous coat will suffice but two or even three coats works better with the standard clear TLS or Kato Liquid clays. Kato is now available in colors and other additives can also be used to tint them like Pearl-X Pigments.
It is important to bake the eggshells with the liquid clay and mica powder applications the same day that you do them, as there is a chemical interaction that happens otherwise–the thin layer will begin to bubble up and separate. The higher the local humidity, the faster it happens–what took 3 days of neglected egg-making in Denver Colorado to occur happened overnight in Jackson Mississippi. Bake your eggs that day for best results!
The eggs shown here are baked and awaiting more decoration—and the safest place to keep them is in the original carton! I apply the liquid clay with a dedicated brush; one used only for liquid clay. As it does not dry, I don’t clean the brush after use. Instead, I wipe off most of the excess from the brush and put it in a small zip lock bag to keep it clean of dryer lint and dust. It can be cleaned with alcohol when needed.
The eggs are easier to handle if I put them on a bamboo skewer prior to applying the liquid clay, and I bake the eggs in a pan while suspended on these by letting the ends of the skewers rest on the sides of the pans. This is also the best way to handle them for many kinds of decoration. Cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes can be used on sheets of clay that are either impressed with textures or with slices of millefiori cane work.
Place a blown egg on a bamboo skewer for ease in handling, and cover it completely with a thin coat of liquid polymer clay. Apply evenly and make sure there are no drips. It is better to build up thin layers of the clay. Allow the liquid to settle and wipe off any drips that occur. Suspend the egg on the skewer between the sides of your baking pan and bake at the manufacturers specified temperature for ten minutes.
Remove and allow to cool, and repeat for a second layer. If desired coat again for a third layer, but two layers is often sufficient with if you handle the eggs carefully. The egg shown above has had two coats of clear TLS baked onto it. Then cutouts of blue clay were applied leaving some spaces open. After an additional baking to harden the blue cutouts, liquid clay was applied as an adhesive, and small glass balls and a cabochon were added and baked into place.
The liquid gold and silver TLS can also be mixed together and thinned with an equal amount of the clear to give a delicate flesh tone for making dolls-head eggs. The ones shown here all started as white eggs, but now have a shimmery tanned look as well as greater strength.
The baked TLS gives a “tooth” or slightly roughened surface to the egg that allows the raw clay overlaid to stick very nicely.
It also makes a wonderful surface for drawing with pen and ink. Features have been colored in with acrylic paints or colored pencils on the egg ladies seen here; their hair is an additional layer of liquid polymer clay.
The one at right has a polymer clay millefiore “babushka” and a beaded tassel.
Click here for a how-to on decorating eggs with the cutaway filigree technique.