Friday, March 26, 2010

Great Eggspectations

In the April issue of Martha Stewart Living, holiday guru Eric Pike and his assistant Athena Preston put their creativity to the test and raise their egg-spectations to new levels of egg-cellence. (Okay, I'll stop.) Below I've showcased some of the egg crafts from the issue, which have a charming, retro feel to them, almost psychadelic in their technicolour designs.

SPRING MENAGERIE: Playful creatures (including Martha's French bulldog Francesca) and fresh vegetables adorn these eggs. Each design starts with circle stencils made using a craft punch and black adhesive vinyl. For the carrot and radish, the circle stencils are modified with a craft knife; the stem stencil is cut freehand. Butterflies call for half-circles: For the one in front, orange dye is dabbed into stencils on a pale pink egg; for the one at the back, half-circles are adhered to a pale-peach egg, which is then dipped into darker peach dye. The little baskets were inspired by wirework egg holders that were popular a century ago. To make your own wire stands, wrap 20-guage wire around a pen, flatten the resulting coil to create a series of loops, and then twist the ends together to form a ring.

EGGS IN BLOOM: Flowers and leaves give chicken and goose eggs a rich, complex look. The designers used red and green, but pastels would make pretty eggs as well. The design is achieved simply, using vinyl stickers and two dye baths. Vary the length of time of each dye bath to achieve lighter and darker gradations. Use a permanent-ink pen to draw on flower stems, if desired. You can also stencil on flower centers.

SCRAMBLED LINES AND LETTERS: These graphic eggs take a design cue from the printing press, where misaligned plates result in slightly skewed, or "off-register," type and images. In this interpretation, vinyl letters or narrow strips of electrical tape are applied to an egg; it's dyed, and then the letters are shifted before the egg is dipped into a different colour. Add a handwritten name with a permanent-ink pen to create an additional, personalized layer of scrpit.
WHICH CAME FIRST?: These 'cracked' eggshells get their jagged edges from electrical tape; use a craft knife to cut a random jagged pattern into a strip of tape, and then position it around an egg that has already been dyed a pale colour. Dip the egg again, partially, into the same dye bath again, up to the tape, holding it until the desired darker shade is achieved. A chirping chick is created by dapping food colouring into vinyl stencils.

SQUARE DEAL: Bright colours and geometric designs make modern-looking eggs. A graceful vintage wirework holder displays three of them. To create the pattern, pieces of electrical tape are shifted slightly between two dips in dye. For chiken eggs, 1/2 inch squares were used; for the larger goose eggs, slightly bigger squares were used, as well as rectangles. When layering hues start with the paler one and move on to the darker one.

COLOUR LESSONS: These overlapping circles stenciled onto eggs beget a batch of new hues. The design pays homage to CMYK printing, which combines cyan, magenta, yellow and "key" black to yield a spectrum. Here, food colouring is dabbed inside vinyl stencils that were cut with a craft punch. For the dark egg, red and blue dots are made first, and then circle stickers are smoothed onto the shell. After a dip in inky-black dye, the stickers are removed.

Photographs by Johnny Miller

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