Sleigh Ride

So as I type this, I have a fever.  I have no idea how I managed to finish this one up as fast as I did, but it’s done.

 

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This is a basic pattern egg (single swirl) that I used to get a jumpstart on winter (which I never do, Im always behind.)  It’s a jumbo egg, with a midnight blue interior, and composite silver toned leaf on the swirl. The negative space has a simple pattern in a semi transparent pewter over midnight blue, with a glossy finish.  It’s the kind of thing that would look nice on a tree or a Hanukkah bush or hanging wherever you hang all your winter stuff and things.

Also, I can make this one into an ornament, if anyone wants it that way. Otherwise, it comes with a stand (but not THIS stand- that’s my work stand.)

I have it up on the etsy store, if anyone wants a jumpstart on their winter festivities.

There’s another egg coming very soon- it’s about 3/4 done, but Im running behind due to being sick.  Hopefully, by Friday,

 

Here’s the egg at other angles:

 

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Inspiration whilst contemplating my slippers.

Before I get into this post, I just wanted to thank everyone for their wishes on my oral surgery.  The truth is this was easily the best dental experience of my life.  Why? Because they knocked me out.   I had an appointment at 10am, they took me at 11am, and I was home, with my drugs from my pharmacy cross town, by 2.

My recovery pain can be described as a 1 on a scale from 1-10.  I took one percoset after the novocaine wore off, right after I got home and had to eat.  I took 2 ibuprofen in the first  24 hours, and since then no pain killers whatsoever. Nothing. I haven’t needed them at all.   I had three teeth pulled- two wisdom teeth and a secondary molar. All on the same side of my mouth.  I have no swelling, no trauma, no horrible memories, no nothing.  They put me out, which got me out of their way, so they could just do their job without having to worry about how anxious I was, and as a result I have no horrible after effects. In fact I ate normal (not crunchy, but normal) food this morning.  No pain, though I did eat slowly and kept the food away from that side as much as I could.

So, if you need oral surgery? Tell them to knock you out.  Trust me.  It’s an *entirely* different experience.

So, about my slippers.  For weeks now, I’ve been struggling with a display solution for the eggs to be used at a show in December. I had a specific vision for how I want the end result to look but it was going to require a custom solution – one I was struggling to obtain.  Either the custom foam places *couldn’t* do it, or they couldn’t do it in a small enough quantity to make the idea viable. I had pretty much decided I was going to have to abandon the idea and go with my second choice. I wasn’t really thrilled about it, because the second idea had issues that the first one didn’t, but there’s only so much I can do. After all I am all about trashing ideas that just won’t work.

The thing I was originally looking for was this:

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You’d think this was simple, but it’s not.  Sure, I can get hollow cylindrical bits of foam, but what was problematic was the sizing.  I needed a 1.5″ hole in the middle, and I needed the foam pillar to be no less than 5″ in diameter, and preferably 6″.  People were suggesting things like pool noodles and foam grips, but it quickly began to become frustrating, as the dimensions are specific and both of them actually matter- the center hole has to be enough to hold an egg without allowing it to fall through, and the overall diameter has to be wide enough to create a pillar that will hold up not only under the weight of the egg itself, but be wide enough to be stable on a table without being easily toppled over.  In the end, I was thinking I was going to need to abandon the idea, because I couldn’t find what I needed in the quantity I needed. (One place would do it if I ordered 72′, but I only need about 12′, cut into varying lengths.  I was really not happy about any of this, as displaying the eggs is not only important, but keeping the eggs safe in a place not entirely under my control is one of the very reasons I don’t do shows in the first place.

I also have the chance to vend at the Bronx House Holiday Market.  Im considering it, but I may hold off this year just to see how this other show does.  I am really not comfortable doing shows at all – even doing one is a big thing for me, so i don’t know how I feel committing to doing two.

But I’ll think about it (and if you think I really should do it, especially if you’ll go and buy things, let me know.)

But about my slippers.

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Now truth be told I don’t like this style of slipper as they tend to fall right off my feet. I like the ones that go all the way around.  But what I do like about these is that they’re made of memory foam. It doesn’t solve the fact that I walk out of them, but it does make it happen a little less often.  I was wearing these downstairs as I was doing the laundry, and I was contemplating the wonder that is memory foam.  And as I’m shuffling along, I realize…I don’t actually NEED a hole in the center of the pillar.  What I need is memory foam.  All I have to do is prep the foam so that a weighted object of the right diameter leaves an impression in the foam that will hold the egg in place.

That just made my search a lot easier. Because getting a 6″ foam cylinder cut into varying lengths is WAY simpler than getting one with a hole in the middle.  The only question now is if I can get it in a  color I can live with.  Painting memory foam is problematic because it’s so dense. You can’t  really paint it.  However I might be able to find it in grey, or barring  that, dye it in whatever color I like. Sadly, I don’t sew, so making 25 custom covers for varying lengths is not in the cards, though I may be able to cover just the sides and leave the top, as long as it was dyed a coordinating color.  But I think I’ve found my solution there.  All because of the wonders of memory foam.

 

 

 

Fortunata.

So I have oral surgery tomorrow. I have no idea how I’ll be feeling afterward, so I wanted to do my level best to get this egg finished before I got drugged to the gills.  I didn’t think it would actually happen, but the stand came together more quickly than I imagined.  Though my original intent was to add beads and sequins, once I got all the leafing done, it just seemed like overkill and that the leafing by itself would be plenty. So it’s finally done. Honestly it went pretty quickly. I think it was a little less than 3 weeks, including a lot of drying time.

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Fortunata – Not for sale.

This is the most elaborate egg I’ve made to date.  It has carving, sculpture, beads, bells, sequins, paint, dye leafing.   It’s a rather large jumbo egg (I chose it for the shape) with a charcoal/black interior with a bit of gold lustre dust (not really all that intentional, but it looks cool.) The leaf is composite, so it has a lot of colors in it, but obviously mostly gold. The exposed egg surface is finished in a dead matte varnish.  All the bells are 4mm anklet bells.   I have photos from all angles as usual, but if you have any questions on how it was made, please just ask!

 

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This egg already has a home and will be headed down south, but if you want one like it, or even like something else, just fill out an order form, or for something already done, head over to the etsy shop.  I’d love to come back from my surgery to some new orders, so have a look.

Next up, how I solved my foam problem because, slippers. I swear, that makes sense eventually. See everyone Friday. 🙂

 

Sometimes, you really do have it right the first time.

The egg itself is done now.  I’m going to be working on the stand for a few days, though.  But before I put the egg aside for the moment, I want to talk once again (it’s a running theme.) of how important it is for designers and artists to be able to look at something and say “nope. ” and toss it if it isn’t right.

After I beaded the mask and trim on the egg, the only thing left was the nose.  I had wanted to bead that too, as a kind of nose piece attached to the mask.  At first, I did the beadwrk in the same gold beads as the mask, but it just didn’t look right- there was not enough differentiation between the mask portion and the nose.  So I tried a second time, and used a darker, more bronze colored set of beads. The beading on the nose was tricky due to the shape and took about 8 hours to do.  And so help me, I finished it, took a single photo and ripped every last bead off, because I hated it.  In the end, I left the nose without beads, and used a gold/black paint wash to create some shading and a gold/pearl wash to create a highlight and left it at that.  Part of the issue is the egg design itself is not perfectly symmetrical. the nose is slightly off too, in a way that’s “natural” in the sense that no one’s face is completely symmetrical, but a pain in the ass when you’re working on artwork. It’s also not asymmetrical in a way that I can easily fix, as this portion of the egg is unsupported by a larger framework.  I cant mess with it too much or Im going to shatter the whole thing.  So I’m just going to have to live with it.

I also decided to coat the “blank” parts in a dead matte varnish.  I considered a gloss, but the beads are already so sparkly and shiny I thought it needed some contrast.

Anyway, here’s the one shot I took with the bronze beads vs. where we are now.  These are process shots so they’re just quick and dirty, but you get the idea.

 

 

The beads on the nose were a) a distracting, thogh similar color, b) made the nose look disproportionally large, and c) accentuated the fact that it’s wildly asymmetrical.

 

I still have a lot of work to do on the stand.  fortunately, it doesn’t matter how rough the ruffle sculpts are. First of all most of their volume won’t be seen (there will be three stacked on top of one another so you’ll lose most of the volume visually toward the interior, so IDGAF how rough they are) and b) because they’re  meant to mimic crinkled fabric anyway.  and c) they’ll be covered in so much stuff it just doesn’t matter. The larger problem is the fact that though they do have a wire on the interior circumference (against the  stand) they don’t have one at the outer edge, so I have to babysit it until it will hold its shape without collapsing in on itself.  That takes about 90 minutes per ruffle, and I have to do them separately so they don’t stick together. It’s a time sink, but not really difficult.

However the stand itself will likely take the bulk of the week.  Fortunately, it’s t a stage where I can move on to other projects, so if you were waiting to place an order or buy something from the shop, now is a good time.

Also, if you don’t follow me on any of my twitter accounts, you probably don’t know that on Friday I announced a new way to get free eggs. (that wasn’t a typo.) Head over here to read what that’s about.

Finally, I was asked a couple days ago if i take payments.  yes, of course I do, don’t be silly. I totally understand the desire to buy a thing that you can’t shell out for all at once. Just contact me at eggrotechNYC@gmail.com and I’ll sort out whatever we need to do.

Though normally I’d try to update again on Wednesday (Im really trying to update three times a week now) I have surgery Wednesday (oral, no one panic.) and I really doubt I’ll be able to do that until I’ve rested, as Im being put under general anesthesia to have it done. (before anyone asks, two wisdom teeth and a secondary molar.) So I’ll see  everyone after I get back from that. However, I can start any orders placed before then right away. No problem.

 

 

 

Hat Trick.

I finally finished the hat on the carnival clown.  I’m working on the mask/face now, but I want to talk for just a minute on how to best attack the problem of ornamenting curving shapes (and give a news update too.)

So, the issue with the hat on this egg is that the shapes are not only affixed to a curved surface, but they curve themselves in their own ways, and interact with one another to form odd angles and tight curves.  Here’s the hat just after it was sculpted:

 

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.  Now, I took this shot before I had even put the egg in the bleach, so that explains the ragged look around the eye holes.  First of all you should know those little hat fronds have a wire armature to help keep them up while they cured.  If I hadn’t done that, they’d have collapsed under their own weight before they would dry and hold their shape on their own.  So each of those little fronds has a triangular wire armature that’s allowing them to hold their shape during the curing process.   They’re not entirely uniform, and that’s largely because they don’t have to be.  In the end, the differences between them are minor, and won’t matter once the whole thing is covered anyway.  But most importantly, you’ll see that the interior shapes of each one are a little different, and the one in the middle presents its own problems, because it’s behind the other two and therefore has a tight space between where it ends at the base, and the back side of the other two. This created a design problem if I wanted to completely cover the hat in beads.

What I decided in the end was to use composite leaf on the interior curves of the fronds, and just use gold beads on the edges of the interior side.  This is an active design decision, but it’s done with common sense physics in mind – the interior curves aren’t uniform. It would be impossible to create an interior beaded surface in which the beads all aligned in a way that wasn’t a complete mess on that middle piece- there’s just so little room to maneuver in there and the angles are complicated by the presence of the other two pieces.

I sort of approached it like I would an upholstery project.  Just like one of those, it’s the edging that pulls it all together. and in fact, the beads when applied with that in mind, really do make it look sort of “padded”.

You can see- it’s the edge beads that make it work.

 

When I prototyped how the bells would sit I used just a bit of twisted wire, but for the end product I used crimper beads that I then threw some composite leaf on (I only had silver ones here and this was a faster solution than buying a whole gold pack.)  They give a more finished appearance to the final version of the hat.

The beads themselves are applied with a long beading needle and thread. I put a whole row on a strand, and then lay them down.  I allow the glue to tack up for about 5 minutes, then carefully, while holding the first and last bead in the row down, pull the thread out slowly, leaving the beads behind. This allows the beads to remain in alignment in any shape I give them, but unfortunately isn’t useful in cases where a bead pattern is interrupted by another one (like in that Miami Dolphins egg with the number on the back.)  In a case like that, I mostly have to lay the beads one at a time.

Bottom line, is when one material won’t work due to space or angle limitations, you can always find another that will.  However, if you choose to use leaf (of any kind) it’s good to have good leafing technique.  I was trained on how to do real leafing (both oil and water gilding) but the kind of leaf I use here is stuff anyone can use, if they don’t rush and always follow two simple rules: don’t rush the size (glue) and wear cotton gloves. Yeah I know the cotton gloves make you look like Mickey Mouse but they really are important.  The oil on your fingertips will absolutely cause the leaf to stick to YOU rather than the surface you’re trying to lay it on, so it’s key not to touch it directly.  Further, depending on what kind of material is in your leaf, you’ll get oxidized fingerprints in your leaf as it ages if you’re not careful. So it goes like this:  paint your surface.  For warm based leaf colors I recommend a red (so generally speaking, throw red paint under gold leaf) and for cool based leaf colors I recommend a blue.  For copper leaf I actually tend to use a green because that creates patina effects.  Let it dry completely.  (this is important.)  Then paint a thin layer of size (glue) .  THIN.  You don’t want puddles.  You want it to be a uniform, thin layer.  Then walk away and don’t touch anything until the size is clear.  (It will go on a milky white.)  once it’s clear, it’s tacky to the touch.  If you have to test it, use a knuckle.  Don’t use a fingertip.  You can then wear your cotton gloves, and apply your leaf with either a gilding brush (for a whole sheet) or with a fluffy paintbrush if you’re just using flash pieces like I did here.  Tap it down gently, but firmly and then if you need to burnish (polish) it later you can do it once it’s down and dry with a burnishing tool.

In the end, this is the final version of the hat:

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The hardest part was the one row of gold beads at the very base of the interior of the middle frond. That was, to be fair, a giant pain in the ass, since those beads had to be laid by hand and there’s just no room in there to maneuver them in to place very well.

As I said earlier, I have to do the mask and face next.The mask will be done with three kinds of gold/bronze beads and the white parts on the mask will be done with pearlescent white tube beads. As you can see, the stand is already being prepped to create a custom base, but I won’t get to it until I don’t need the stand  while I work anymore.  It will eventually be turned into a neck ruffle.


Again, Im strongly considering doing that show in December, so I may make a couple of similar, but different ones to this one to bring along.  If you want to help support that idea, please buy one of the eggs I have in stock , or order a custom egg or egglace here.   I’d really appreciate it.  It’s very hard to decide to do this show, but everyone’s support makes it easier.

Im hoping to update with some brand new ideas on Friday.  See you then!

 

Seeking the next level.

No matter what you do, you’re always looking for ways to get better at it. A lot of that just comes with simple, repetitive practice, but sometimes it’s an active choice– a series of decisions to do something difficult for the sake of forcing yourself to get better at whatever you’re doing.

That seems to be a theme for me recently. Those quail eggs carve quickly, but because they’re so small, sculpting them takes a while, since you can’t find a way to easily hold them while you’re doing it.  I made jewelry for the first time, and then radically improved upon how I do it.  I got lightning fast at making basic patterns.  And most recently, I’ve been working on a really, *really* elaborate egg.

The egg isn’t finished yet.  I think it still has a week left in it. A lot of this is glue setup time.  I can only lay down so many beads without letting the glue really take hold before moving on. Not waiting long enough causes the beads to float out of position on the wet surface. So it’s two rows, wait… two rows, wait…. The actual beading itself is challenging because the surface curves in multiple directions at once.  The sculpted shapes are more elaborate than usual, and I’ve used a bunch of metal leaf (I own 24k leaf but this is composite.) and hand laid hundreds of sequins(there’s gotta be a better way than how I did that, but I’ll figure out what it is eventually.) Ultimately, this is an exercise in expanding the limits of the top end of my product line.  But this is what I have so far:

 

 

As I said, it still needs work.  I am still working on the center portion of the hat, which is a complex  issue due to the bead pattern and the shapes involved.  However, the inner side of the hat is leafed with composite, which gives it a nice swirling color effect against the gold. The bells are 4mm tiny anklet bells, and they do jingle.  Once the hat is finished I have to move on to the mask, trim and “brows” and start sculpting the stand out further.    The bag of popcorn (rice or beans or any other dried thing like that would be fine too) is there to hold the egg in whatever position I put it down in, so it doesn’t roll.  The stand really only holds the egg effectively in one position, so the popcorn bag will hold it in place at odd angles that I need to apply beads so they don’t slide off the egg’s surface.

So in addition to all of this, Im being encouraged to put my eggs in what would be my first craft show in December.  I normally avoid this sort of thing pretty hard.  First of all, transporting the eggs is a pain in the ass.  I mean just, full stop, it’s just a hassle.  Second, because I am exactly the opposite of the person who wants to be in that position.  Im really introverted, I am uncomfortable in situations like that, I present as *really* awkward, and I have to constantly watch out for the eggs in a situation I don’t fully control.  It’s exhausting. But the biggest problem isn’t any of that. It’s that display solutions are *really* hard to do in this situation.  Putting them all on egg stands on a table is so terrible an idea that it’s not worth considering.  However, the idea I DO have and would work effectively, has proven to be REALLY hard to make happen.  I would need some custom pieces of high density foam cut to order.  Yes, I know there’s oodles of places online that claim to do this.  So far though, none of them have been able to do what I *actually need done*, which is to take a 6-8 foot length of cylindrical foam (think like a bolster, something 4- 6″ in diameter and cut a 1 1/2″ hole in the center, and then cut the whole thing crosswise at various lengths, between 3 and 1o inches in height.  Basically you wind up with something like this:

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(the color doesn’t matter as long as I can paint them.)   No, styrofoam won’t work.  No, foam grips won’t work.  The walls need to be thick or it becomes a toppling risk.  They need to basically look like pillar candles with a hole in them.  I’ve contacted several “custom cut foam” places and no one can do this (except for the one really nice guy who CAN, but only if I get 72 feet of it. Which, seriously, I don’t have anyplace to put, and wouldn’t have a use for anyway.  I just need between 12-25 individual cut pieces, not  250.)

Other display ideas have been thrown around that might be able to be easier to get, but all of them share a common problem- they would  block my vision while sitting down, and I plan to work on paint/bead stuff while Im there as a kind of demo. But until I can sort out a display solution, there’s no point in paying a booth fee. 😦

If you know anyone who can do this at a reasonable price, btw, please send them my way.  And of course, please buy stuff.  I’d like to do this show, but can’t, obviously, without the booth fees and stuff.

 

 

 

Halloween is coming.

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I’ve been working on so much stuff that I haven’t really posted here. I know I’m entirely terrible at media and promotion. That’s not news. However, I am good at makin stuff.  I just finished these two skull egglaces (these two are sold, but I make them to order.)   If you want one before Halloween though I really suggest ordering no later than October 7 as they take some time to sculpt up.

For those worried about fragility, these eggs have been coated in epoxy putty during the sculpting process on all sides.  The only parts left untouched are the ones that are carved away later.  So they’re much less fragile than you’d imagine. The eggs themselves have a very pale mottle to the finish (it’s not visible unless you’re looking very closely) but they are a natural product mimicking another one so that’s to be expected.  I realize there’s no scale here, but these skulls are quite small- about the size of a grape tomato.  They are smaller than a walnut, and the beads are the size of poppy seeds.

Im also working on some *serious* next level stuff that I’ll be showing everyone in a few days.  In addition, Im looking into doing a show in December, if I can figure out a good display solution (custom cut foam solutions are not as easy to obtain as you imagine.)

In the meantime, get yourself an egglace!