Unique sculptured eggshell art form requires precision touch

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Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer

Most sculptors work with clay or stone, but Rebekah Brown’s artistic medium of choice is a real egg. With duck, goose, ostrich, and emu eggs, Brown uses fine instruments to achieve cut-out or layered designs. Some are original, while others are requests and commissions. 

With two associates’ degrees in the arts and fine art, and a bachelor’s in art at Western Carolina University in the works, Brown’s interest in art is life-long. 

Recently, local gems have been added to some designs; natural coloring is revealed in an emu egg as layers are carefully sculpted away.

“The family has been carpenters from way back,” said Brown, who is 30 years old. “That’s how I got started first in woodworking. And then my parents saw the egg tools at a show in Atlanta when I was 15 and thought I would like to do that. I was skeptical, but I tried it and I’m still doing it.” 

Brown purchases the real eggs already blown out. About one in every eight may get broken or cracked, but the eggs chosen are thicker than chicken eggs, and practice means fewer mistakes. 

“The main tool is an adaptation of a dental drill, with few vibrations,” said Brown. “It’s trial and error. I was definitely out of my comfort zone at first.” 

Brown is willing to teach the unique artistic technique but has found no one in the Macon County area who wants to give it a try. “It’s not hard, but it’s tedious. It requires patience. The hardest part is just being willing to do it in the first place.”

Completed eggs take from a few hours to weeks. The globe on an ostrich egg took six weeks. The unique coloring in an emu egg is natural. Brown simply sculpts away layers to achieve the three color variations. However, the emu eggs appear painted. And, recently, Brown has been adding local gems to some of the eggs. 

“My goal with some of the eggs is to achieve the Baroque style,” said Brown. “I also sell the stands for them so they can be displayed. I inserted a light into the bottom of one of them. It’s crazy cool. I’m always experimenting and coming up with new designs. I’ve researched Faberge eggs and I would love to offer a modern-day take on them.”

Brown writes down ideas and inspirations in a journal. 

“I decompress in nature, so some of my ideas come from being outside. I’m happiest when designs come out of my brain. But people are always asking me if I can put some sort of design on an egg, so I also do custom work,” said Brown.

Some eggs become Christmas tree ornaments featuring nativity scenes and other holiday-themed art. Brown has etched and sculpted on eggs everything from sea creatures to butterflies. Brown’s sculptured eggshells are sold at festivals and markets. An Etsy store is in the works. 

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