Linda Biggers turns eggshells into stunning works of art.
History of Cappy Tosetti. Photos by Linda Biggers.
The useful shell
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 exterior covering was intended to protect interior contents with strength and durability. Composed almost entirely of calcium carbonate, the eggshell is both strong and flexible. For centuries, people around the world have embraced the idea of using eggshells in the home, garden, and art studio.
Gardeners add broken and ground eggshells to the compost bin as a soil amendment, a non-toxic pest control, and as containers for biodegradable seeds.
They also infuse 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 cleaner for dirty pots and pans. Many people believe that adding a crushed eggshell to coffee grounds helps reduce acidity. They can be dissolved and soaked in apple cider vinegar to treat skin irritations, and many people like to pulverize the dried shells, whipping them with egg whites as firming facials. Others add eggshell powder to smoothies or take daily supplements to add calcium and magnesium.
For centuries, many artists have painted and decorated blown eggs, while others have tested their dexterity by carving lace and
complex designs. Each is a work of art, proving the egg is the perfect
canvas for creativity.
“I first saw a mosaic over 25 years ago at an art show,” says upstate New York artist Linda Biggers. “It really caught my attention and curiosity, hoping
to learn more, but that was before we had internet access, and I didn’t know where to go to learn.
Art has always been an important part of Linda’s life, starting with drawing and painting as a child. She also dabbled in photography and sculpture and worked as a graphic designer for 18 years. The idea to pursue eggshell mosaics came one morning when she was cooking breakfast for her husband and two daughters. “It was a blistering moment when an egg slipped from my hand, splashing onto the counter. I collected all these pieces, determined to find out 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.
Although Linda also works with glass and tile, she particularly enjoys putting together pieces of such readily available material. The process may seem tedious to some, but for Linda it is both relaxing and meditative.
Like any artist, it takes a bit of imagination and practice to learn something new. Linda has devised her own technique by working with eggshells, a completely different material from shards of glass, stone or tile. There are many questions to ask, including what tools and adhesives to use, adding color, and what about grouting and protecting the finished piece with sealant.
Linda approached the process with great enthusiasm, studying and experimenting with different steps along the way. His first project was a
small tray that she still owns today. She then practiced and honed her skills creating smaller mosaics for gifts which garnered rave reviews, encouraging her to present another piece at a local art show. To Linda’s surprise, she won a blue ribbon. It was obviously something to pursue.
Finding a source of eggshells is easy: a friend raises chickens and others in the area leave a steady supply outside Linda’s door. She begins by washing the eggshells and removing the two layers of vitelline membrane that protect the egg from bacteria and moisture loss.
After drying, cut the shell into small pieces. Linda discovered
the best tools are nail clippers and small scissors, providing a way to create
intricate flat shapes for every design. To prevent them from crumbling and splintering, she applies a little Mod-Podge to each small piece, letting them dry.
“Color is an important part of any mosaic design,” says Linda, “I like the natural look of eggs, cream and brown to pretty shades of blue and green. uses dyes, acrylic paints and
sometimes alcohol inks.
With most mosaics, grout is used to connect each shard, bringing the final design together, but this is not possible with the thinness and fragile composition of eggshells. Instead, Linda creates the illusion of grout by applying a solid color of paint to a section of birch plywood substrate, her favorite base for every project.
It’s a tedious task to stick every little piece of eggshell together with his trusty tweezers and a bit of Mod-Podge as an adhesive. Once finished, she seals the mosaic by brushing on a protective layer of Liquitex varnish.
You would think that an artist digging into mosaics would have a studio specially set up for the work in question. 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 in the winter months, and the family carport in the colder weather. hot when working with glass. This involves cleaning up and putting away supplies after the session, which sometimes makes it difficult to stay in when creativity strikes. There is always hope for a studio one day.
Since picking up that broken egg for breakfast, Linda has embraced this eggshell experience. “It has been great fun to use a different source of material to create mosaics, and very rewarding to find that audiences appreciate and want to buy my art locally and online through my website and Facebook page. Imagine my surprise when I sent a part all the way to Australia. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
Motivated by nature and seasonal changes, Linda finds that working with eggshells allows her to create very detailed images. She also enjoys working with a natural material, thanks to the neighboring hens who are a constant source of inspiration!
For more information: www.eggshellmosaicart.com
CAPPY TOSETTI lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her three rescue dogs who help her Happy with Cappy Pet Sitting. She sets things in motion to one day criss-cross the country in a vintage caravan visiting draft horse and goat farms. email@example.com