EMU EGG SCRATCH ART
EMUzing is the term adopted by the artist to describe the character of the bird and the fun she has scratching pictures on emu eggs.
What's an Emu Egg?
An emu is the Ostrich's Australian cousin. Emu eggs are normally dark green and weigh an average of 550 grams. During its three day trip down the oviduct, an egg receives six or seven shell coatings of varying shades of green, grey, blue and white.
For centuries, the aborigines of Australia have engraved designs on emu egg shells. A past-time much like wood whittling. Sometimes the engravings tell a story; often they are a token of love, always a fond form of relaxation and expression.
d'Shae has been an emu farmer and distributor of the many emu oil health and beauty products for six years. She began dabbling with egg art in August, 1997. By October her Aegg play@ turned serious with a commission for eight pieces. She has since completed over fifty commissioned works. Her art is exhibited in a number of art galleries, and is a favorite fund raiser for local charities. She avails herself to speak to schools and local groups and instructs in her home, but must decline travel requests for instructing workshops. In response to the many requests, she has recently completed a follow-along A How To@ video as a tool for sharing her technique. d'Shae encourages admirers of her work to try their hand at emu egg scratch art, stressing that she has had no prior art or craft instruction. She believes the beautiful emu egg is a perfect canvas for creating lovely works of art even for a novice. The texture, contrast, and natural colors of the shell turn the simplest of designs into a dramatic piece of work.
How it's Done
d'Shae makes no secret to her scratch art technique, and has agreed to share with our readers the steps she uses in creating her popular Panda & Cub. She welcomes questions, and comments regarding her technique and instruction. She can be reached at 361-364-3146 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now get out your equipment and follow along with d'Shae.
This is a picture taken from an art instruction book. You may apply this technique with any picture of your choice. Enlarge or shrink the picture to fit the emu egg. This picture would require a large egg - preferably one that is somewhat round or fat because of the roundness of the panda's body.
If you are not an artist as I am not, you will need a method of transferring the outline of your picture onto the egg. On a flat surface lay sheets of paper as follows beginning with the bottom layer: contrasting colored paper, white transfer paper, carbon paper, and finally the pattern or picture to be transferred.
WARNING: Be sure your tracing paper is facing the correct way. This is why I use a contrasting color on the bottom - to test out the transference.
Trace over the main features of the picture to be transferred. Do not trace over every single hair or your transfer paper will be too busy and you'll find yourself lost. Pay attention to any area that will require extra attention, such as the eyes, nose, ears, jaw line or shadows. These areas will require good definition when it is time to transfer to the egg.
Now using small strips of masking tape, position the white transfer onto your egg. Position the transfer paper slightly above the center point of the egg to allow for the stand. You will find the need to make little pleats or darts in the transfer paper to make it contour the egg. Using a fine point pen retrace your picture. Use ample pressure for a good transfer. If there are some vague areas after removing the transfer paper come back over it with a white crayon, artist pencil or plumbers chalk.
Notice the scribbling of white around the face to mark areas that need to be shaved off. Here you will notice I had to re-define the nose and mouth after the transference. The eyes, nose and mouth are critical areas that require caution in tracing and cutting. Also notice that just the basics have been transferred. Not a lot of busy little details.
Use the SA-42 double cut burr to lightly trace the main features of the subject. Maintain a light touch - you can always come back later and make your lines stronger. Just place a few scratches to define the changes in fur direction and separations of jaw line, mouth, and neck collar.
Now that the main areas have been defined with the cutting burr, wipe off the chalk with a damp cloth so you can see where lines may require re-defining. If you have a lot of chalk to remove, you may use gentle soap and water. Rinse well. Don't go into heart failure - as I did the first time - when all your work seems to disappear. The fine cut lines will re-appear within seconds.
Notice that I only cut a few tiny lines in the face, neck and chest area to indicate the changes of fur direction and where some shading is needed. You may not be able to see the tiny eyes. That is because I barely scraped the surface of the shell for the eyes - almost just little dots. In most subjects this is an area that you don't want to have deep cuts if you want a realistic look.
You are now ready to begin defining the fur and highlighting the eyes and white areas. I use the #198 cutter. The wheel resembles saw teeth - only fatter.
Beginning with the outer outline of the eyes as a starting point, set the wheel down with teeth flat on egg surface and pull away from it . Use a light to medium touch lightly scraping off the top layer of shell to reveal the powdery blue shell.
Once the eyes and the ear of the cub have been outlined, hold drill so bit is on edge and begin making varied lengths of strokes following the direction of the fur. Using the edge will give slender lines whereas lying the burr flat makes a thick line thus removing more shell. Notice the dark areas left to define the jaw and neck line and separation from the shoulder. Just lightly mark a few fur lines in all of the dark areas including the neck collar, lower body and paw.
This is where the fun begins. Scratch and scrape away the shell to lighten the face. Always keep in mind you want to follow and maintain the lines of the fur. Vary the pressure of your drill bit to alter the depth of your scrapes, and thus leaving a color variation and the illusion of layered fur. This takes practice. Don't get in a hurry. It is better to scrape a thin layer of shell at a time than to rush through several layers at once and risk punching a hole in the egg. A little helpful tip here is to occasionally spray the egg with UV resistant spray - alternating with scratching in the fur lines. In other words, scrape a little, brush off shell dust, spray, and repeat process until you have the desired effect. This seems to add dimension and some shade variation to the fur.
A good tool for creating fur lines is the 9931. It is very sharp and makes very fine lines. Using just the very tip will cut one line at a time. Setting it sideways as illustrated below will make four or five lines at once. It is also useful for creating eye lashes and whiskers.
This tool works well for creating the illusion of fur in the dark areas of these pandas because you don't want strong cuts - just some scratches.
With perseverance your panda and cub are almost complete. The tall grasses which were haphazardly sketched in here add interest and contrast to the overall picture. A bonus to the artist is that it reduces the amount of detail that would be required to sketch in the entire body which in turn helps to keep the customer's cost down.
We could stop at this point or go on to buff up the shell to add some luster. Eliminating the buffing leaves the blues a soft, powdery cast - almost like snow. This is the result of the fine shell dust settling and remaining on the egg. Buffing removes the powder, shines, and deepens the blue. Whichever you choose I do recommend buffing the dark areas, especially the black area of the nose to give it a wet-like sheen. The #443 shank wire brush illustrated below does a great job of buffing.
Now all that's left for you to do is clean off any unwanted pencil marks, add your signature, date, final sealer coats, and your masterpiece is ready to be seated on its stand.
I recommend Krylon UV Resistant Clear Acrylic Sealer. It not only gives a nice luster; it also helps to protect the colors from fading and freckling. A high glossy finish can be obtained with the use of several light coats of glaze. I prefer the spray on kind to avoid brush marks.
Select a stand that is appropriate for the subject and use a commercial strength glue to seat it. I use Eastman 6000 because it is easy to apply, doesn't discolor plastics, is sticky within a few minutes but allows time to make adjustments before it is completely dry (about 8 hours).
I do hope you enjoyed this scratch art session, and as my good friend, Lauren, says: AHAPPY EGGING@
to order d'Shae's instructional video, email her at email@example.com. More of her work can be seen at