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This Artist Makes Impossible Eggshell Carving Look Easy

Shirley Hambrick turns a knack for glass carving into eggshell art.

Andrew Salomone

A Dragon carved into an Ostrich egg. All images courtesy the artist

A lot of art projects never get past the embryonic stage of a quick sketch, but one imaginative artist is making arduous artworks from actual embryo vessels. Depicting subjects ranging from dragons to paisley patterns, Shirley Hambrick's incredibly ornate sculptures illustrate the aesthetic potential of an unexpected material. "A lot of people mistake the eggs for porcelain and are surprised to hear that they are, in fact, carved eggshells," Hambrick tells Creators.

Although she works primarily as a glass artist, Hambrick says the air-powered engraver she uses on glass can carve into any surface, as long as it's hard enough. "I heard that it could also be used for egg carving and I was intrigued, so I ordered some eggs online to experiment with. I began to love the effect that carving the shells produced and enjoyed pushing the limits to see how much of the eggshell I could remove without destroying its integrity," explains Hambrick.

After experimenting with duck and goose eggs, Hambrick says ostrich eggs have become her preferred canvas, due to their size and durability. "The shells are about 3/10 of an inch thick, so I can carve into the surface of the eggshell or cut right through the egg. This gives me the ability to add detail, depth, and definition to the designs I choose to carve. The smaller eggs are more fun to paint as—unlike the ostrich shells—their surface is very smooth, but I find myself returning the the creamy white of the ostrich egg more often than not. The shell becomes more white as the surface is carved away, and I find the subtle contrast very pleasing," says Hambrick.

Shirley Hambrick is currently helping to deliver art retreats in the South of France, where she is loading up on inspiration for her Celtic designs. See more of Hambrick's work on her website.

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