Maureen had been at me for years about having a go at egg artistry but it had never appealed to me. I always considered Decorated eggs to be just "dust catchers what do you do with them?"
I live on the Gold Coast, Queensland, by my self in an "Over 50's Village". My husband passed away in 2004 and I have 5 children and a swag of grandchildren, all fairly close by except for one family in Melbourne.
My younger sister Maureen and I are very close and I was visiting her in Adelaide in 2007 and found Maureen was taking part in a project with a group of Eggshell Carvers in the US, over the Internet. She said I should just have a try because she thought I would like it, so I did.
For several years, I was a Ceramics teacher which I quite enjoyed but ceramics seemed to be going out of fashion and I felt that there were a few things from Ceramics that would lend themselves to Eggshell Carving, so I thought I would give it a go and see what happened.
My first carving was done on an ostrich egg, which was just one picked out of Maureen's box of eggs and I used a design that I had used on several occasions in ceramics and placed it on the egg with no real understanding of what had to be done. In Ceramics, I particularly liked doing water etching and I though this was a similar sort of thing so just carried on doing what I thought needed to be done, until I had finished this particular design, which was two open poppies with leaves around them.
Maureen suggested I should remove the membrane and with this done she said we should just check the shell over a light to make sure all the membrane was gone. Checking the egg, we found that yes, the membrane was gone but there were 5 cracks around the blowhole and a flaw in the shell next to the carving I had done! After a bit of thought and discussion, I marked the egg up with further elements of the poppies design and then the egg just "evolved from there. I added some poppy buds and made cut outs to remove the flaw in the shell. After all this extra work, I thought it looked pretty good!
There were no carving teachers in Australia, so we taught ourselves - doing things our way because we didn't know anything different! We did many experiments with different techniques and photographed and documented them and shared these with our Internet friends in the Eggshell Carvers group.
I started out using a spare Rotoflex tool which Maureen gave me and then a Dremel tool which I had got several years ago for a different purpose. Our tools were tagged as "Primitive" by our mentors in the US but we didn't have the same access to the type of things they used there and just adapted to what we could get here.
About six months after starting carving, we entered the TES competition run by Gary Le Master and my " first" egg was awarded a first in the Novice section which was a great thrill for me! Since then I have managed to pick up a few more prizes, including 3 Best of Show or Champion trophies.
In 2008, we held our first Aussie Eggshell Carvers carving camp at Goolwa in South Australia, where we had a group of 12 ladies over a long weekend retreat to learn carving eggshells. We rented three holiday houses for the "long" weekend. The camp was a great success and another camp was held at Beverley Cullen's home at Kurrajong, NSW in 2008 & the 2009 camp at Goolwa was extended to 2) 3 day sessions over a week with a free day in the middle and then in 2010, we moved to the Glenbarr Convention Centre and Camp at Strathalbyn, closer to Adelaide. The venue had more room and the added advantage of on site accommodation.
With more experience, both Maureen and I purchased Marathon N8 Dental Micromotors, we have made a couple of teaching DVD's for those without access to teachers here in Australia, the first one on Reverse Relief Carving and the second one on Relief Carving. In 2010 at our first camp at Glenbarr, we released a book we had written to assist carvers here in Australia because there was no information available to our Aussie carvers.
In June 2010, we made a teaching trip to Dallas in Texas, USA to teach eggshell carving at the Dallas Egg Show. and in September 2011, we taught at the first Las Vegas Egg Show followed a week later by another egg show at Cleveland in Ohio.
In recent months I have become more involved with the decorating side of things and I must say I am enjoying this as well.