Eggshell Art: Mosaics

Eggshell Art: Mosaics

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Photos by Linda Biggers. Nature is an amazing architect, especially when it comes to the humble egg. Curved and seamless in design, the ovoid shape with a structurally sound outer covering was destined to protect the inner contents with strength and durability. Made almost entirely of calcium carbonate, the eggshell is both strong and flexible. For centuries, people around the world have embraced the idea of using the humble eggshell in the home, garden, and art studio.

Gardeners add broken and crushed eggshells to the compost bin as a soil amendment, a non-toxic pest control, and as biodegradable seed containers.
They also steep crushed eggshells in water to give indoor and outdoor plants a boost.

Inside the kitchen, ground eggshells can be added to soapy water as an abrasive cleanser for dirty pots and pans. Many people believe adding a crushed eggshell to coffee grounds helps reduce acidity. They can be dissolved and steeped in apple cider vinegar to treat skin irritations, and many individuals like to pulverize the dried shells, whisking them together with egg whites as skin-tightening facials. Others add the eggshell powder to smoothies or take as it daily supplements for added calcium and magnesium.

For centuries, many artists have painted and decorated blown-out eggs, while others have challenged their dexterity by carving out lacy and
intricate designs. Each one is a work of art, proving the egg is the perfect
canvas for creativity.

Annamay. Delicate portraits are made both with naturally colored and tinted eggshells.

Eggshells as Mosaic

“I first saw a mosaic over 25 years ago at an art show,” says upstate New York artist Linda Biggers. “It really caught my eye and my curiosity, hoping
to learn more, but that was before we had access to the internet, and I had no idea where to go to learn.”

Art has always been an important part of Linda’s life, beginning with drawing and painting as a child. She has also dabbled in photography and sculpture and worked as a graphic artist for 18 years. The idea of pursuing eggshell mosaics happened one morning when preparing breakfast for her husband and two daughters. “It was a light-bulb moment when an egg slipped out of my hand, splattering on the counter. I gathered up all those pieces, determined to learn more.”

After honing her skills as a mosaic artist, she now teaches workshops at Luna Mosaic Arts in Orlando, Florida; the Mosaic Guys in Phoenix, Arizona;
The Mosaic Society of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Maverick Mosaics in Oaken, Virginia; and Snow Farm in Williamsburg, Massachusetts.

While Linda also works with glass and tile, she particularly enjoys fitting together pieces of such a readily available material. The process may seem tedious to some, but for Linda, it’s both relaxing and meditative.

A Murder. Linda finds her art form meditative and often inspired by the world around her.

Like any artist, it takes a bit of imagination and practice in learning something new. Linda devised her own technique in working with eggshells, a completely different material than shards of glass, stone, or tile. There are many questions to ponder, including what tools and adhesives to use, adding color, and what about grout and protecting the finished piece with a sealant.

Linda tackled the process with great enthusiasm, studying and experimenting with different steps along the way. Her first project was a
small tabletop that she still has today. She then practiced and honed her skills by creating smaller mosaics for gifts that garnered rave reviews, encouraging her to enter another piece in a local art show. To Linda’s surprise, she won a blue ribbon. This was obviously something to pursue.

Creating Eggshell Art

Finding a source for eggshells is easy: A friend raises chickens, and others in the area drop off a steady supply on Linda’s doorstep. She begins by washing the eggshells and removing the two layers of the vitelline membrane that protect the egg from bacteria and moisture loss.

After drying, snipping the shell into smaller pieces is next. Linda discovered
the best tools are nail clippers and small scissors, providing a way to create
intricate flat shapes for each design. To prevent crumbling and shattering, she applies a bit of Mod-Podge to each tiny bit, allowing them to dry.

“Color is an important part of any mosaic design,” says Linda, “I love the natural look of eggs, everything from cream and brown to lovely shades of blue and green. To achieve other colors, I use dyes, acrylic paints, and
sometimes alcohol inks.”

Killer. Linda uses the tiny pieces of eggshell to create beauty, and humor.

With most mosaics, grout is used to connect each shard, pulling the final design together, but this isn’t possible with the thinness and fragile composition of eggshells. Instead, Linda creates the illusion of grout by applying a solid color of paint across a section of birch plywood substrate, her favorite base for each project.

It’s a tedious task adhering each tiny piece of eggshell with her trusty tweezers and a bit of Mod-Podge as an adhesive. Once completed, she seals the mosaic by brushing on a protective coat of Liquitex varnish.

One would think that an artist delving into mosaics would have a studio specifically set up for the work involved. It’s a messy process with thousands of broken shards strewn about, but for now, Linda uses her dining room table for her eggshell creations during the winter months, and the family carport during warmer weather when working with glass. This entails cleaning up and putting supplies away after the session, making it sometimes difficult to stay in the moment when creativity strikes. There’s always hope for a studio one day.

Since first picking up that broken egg at breakfast, Linda has embraced this eggshell experience. “It’s been great fun using a different source of material in creating mosaics, and most gratifying in discovering that the public appreciates and wants to buy my art locally and online through my website and Facebook page. Imagine my surprise in sending a piece all the way to Australia. One never knows what tomorrow will bring.”

Motivated by nature and the seasonal changes, Linda finds working with eggshells allows her to create images in great detail. It also pleases her to be working with a natural material, thanks to neighboring chickens providing an ongoing source of inspiration!
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CAPPY TOSETTI lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her three rescue dogs that help her with Happy with Cappy Pet Sitting. She’s putting things in motion to someday crisscross the country in a vintage travel trailer visiting draft horse and goat farms. 

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