The Drawing Board

As in any artwork, planning and forethought are most important. An egg design that is "practiced"extensively on paper beforehand, becomes so much easier to draw on an egg. Usually guidelines play a good part in better design construction and execution. Much of the time involved in making an egg is in this "sketching stage". In the case of many Ukrainian Egg designs, there are often far more pencil guidelines that ultimately disappear than people realize. During the later stages, eggs are often re-dyed time and time again for various color choices during the creation process. I draw without templates but will often use a measuring tape for spacing lines or a "grid-style" of mental translation to redraw my designs onto various eggs.

Below are some sketches and "in-progress" photos. I like to photograph all my work at various stages along the way. This becomes the greatest advantage for a buyer wishing to view "custom work" as it develops. Usually these photos are located in a private gallery designed for a particular customer. (Custom designs or finished custom eggs are available upon request. Please email for details.)

partial preliminary sketch
(and traditional tool example)
dyed and waxed egg
(prior to wax removal)
finished customer egg
(chicken egg)

This is an egg that I etched and dyed with a green wash. There are fainter vertical leaves between the rows of doves.

Directions for Making Your Own Glass Display Box

If you want to make yourself your own glass display box it is not hard. It just takes two people and a couple of days to get it done. Have your glass shop cut you the four sides of a box (see note** and one slightly larger to exactly go on the top). Ask them for recycled regular window glass (for your first try)...not the UV protective "conservation" glass which is expensive and very thin and hard to work with. (Use conservation glass after you are an expert box maker since this protects the eggs from fading.) Make sure they take the sharp edge off the glass. If it needs more sanding to keep you from cutting yourself, then draw your knife sharpener or stone across all the sharp edges.

Lay the four sides down in the proper order and push them as close together as you can and run masking tape along the joint between them both. Then lift the glass upright so it will stand like the four walls of a house with the taped sides on the inside. At the last corner, you will have to reach inside and tape. It is easiest to do this by applying tape to one side of the last edge before you lift the box upright. Then all you are doing is pressing the last tape in place.

When all sides are taped, square up your box using a carpenter's square. In the channel that makes each corner, you will apply a big bead of "adhesive" clear silicone. (The key word here is ADHESIVE!! Look for this on the label when you buy it... Ask if you don't see it and tell the clerk you are making an aquarium. It is not just the usual clear acrylic or silicone caulking.) Immediately smooth each bead to a 45 degree slant across the corner so it touches the edges of the glass on both sides before you advance to the next side. It sets up somewhat very quickly but you will have time to do this. Don't worry too much about appearance as you can clean things up after it is dry by using alcohol and a single-edged razor. Just make sure you don't push the box out of square as you are doing each side. After all sides are done, the box must sit in place without being moved or re-adjusted for a full 24 hours.

The last piece of glass is applied by putting adhesive on the top edge of the glass and sandwiching the glass down and cleaning up anything that squirts out. If your top glass is ever so slightly smaller, just square it up on top and run your finger along the edges to bevel the adhesive as you did on the sides. This must again dry for a full 24 hours before moving it. When it is dry, it is extremely strong.

Remove all the masking tape and clean away any excess adhesive with a razor blade. Smudges of adhesive can be removed off the glass surfaces with alcohol. Keep the alcohol off the main bead as it softens it. (This is basically how you make an aquarium except you are going to use it as a lid for a display box rather than the other direction.)

I made my box with an oak base that has a velvet platform for display but you can just place the box over something for protection like a fair exhibit. Believe me... most people won't want to touch it, let alone try to get the eggs out from under it. You can pick it up easy enough wearing a pair of cotton gloves (to hold down the fingerprints).

(Note: the glass shop requested to cut the last piece after I finished the four sides. It was firm enough to do this after 24 hours since the tape was still in place.) The reason was that it is very easy to push the box out of square during the applying of the adhesive. They wanted to make sure the last piece fit on top. They also took off each corner of the last piece at a 45 degree angle so that there was no point to stick out on the top piece.)

The following goose egg collection "Eight Easter Pysanky" was created specifically for Artquest, Inc. of St. Louis. They are now located in a private art collection in Indiana.

8 goose eggs sketched
and waxed on white shell
waxing and dyeing
in progress
finished goose
egg collection

This abbreviated set of thumbnail photos shows the special order process (on a goose egg) from start to finish. I start with an idea from the customer and develop a sketch for it on paper. I then post the picture on a private site for the customer to look at it. After approval from via the internet or by phone, I begin the process of sketching on the egg, waxing and dyeing. (Many of the color/waxing steps are not shown here.) The customer can view large photos of the work at any point along the way and approve the final egg before shipment.

Copyright 1999, 2000 GBarkman "All Rights Reserved".