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[BKARTS] coquille d'oeuf

The method I use for eggshell inlaid in lacquer, as practiced by say, Jean
Dunand, is an adaptation of a method published by Isabel O'Neill in her book THE
ART OF THE PAINTED FINISH (available from $4.92 at amazon.com), with a few
Briefly, The chicken eggshells are soaked in Clorox to remove the inner
membrane, whiten the shell, and thin it somewhat. After rinsing and drying, the
eggshell is broken into smaller pieces and adhered with Elmer's glue to a
surface. For inlays in books covers I use a lightweight bristol board as the surface.
When gluing the eggshell down it is best to paint a thin film of Elmer's on
the surface, place a piece of eggshell, cover with a piece of polyethylene and
press down. The eggshell will crack as it is pressed flat. The pieces of
eggshell can be large or small and arranged randomly or in patterns. For definite
shapes you can adhere the eggshell to a thin Japanese handmade and then trim
the shape with a scalpel or very sharp curved surgical scissors. In addition the
eggshell can have its edges trimmed up with a scalpel once it is adhered to
the surface. Lastly, by painting the underside of the shell with a thinned
Elmer's and allowing this to dry you can shape moderately small pieces of shell
with a nailfile or fine sandpaper.
Once the eggshell is all in place and dry then wipe the surface lightly with
warm vinegar to remove any Elmer's on the surface. Allow to dry. Apply a thin
coat of Krylon.
To fill the cracks make a grout of 1/3 part casein paint (Shiva brand is
great!) 1/3 part powdered pigment and 1/3 part Elmer's glue. You want the grout
the consistency of soft butter. Apply the grout to the eggshell as if grouting a
tile floor. I use a piece of one of the many credit cards I get in the mail
as a squeegee. I apply the grout in two stages. In the first I attempt to fill
all cracks but not obscure the eggshell. Let this dry overnight. The first
coat of grout will dry and shrink below the level of the shell. Apply a second
coat and let dry. It is OK if this second coat obscures the shell completely.
Let dry.
Next begin sanding the surface. I start with 220 grit and as soon as all the
shell surface is basically clear switch to 320 grit. As you sand the crackle
pattern in the eggshell will be revealed. Sand until you are happy with the
surface. Then with a barely damp cloth wipe the entire surface clean. Let dry.
At this point I apply several coats of spray acrylic lacquer, let these dry
completely, and then sand one last time with 600 grit or finer sandpaper.
Finally I apply a coat of microcrystalline wax overall. The panel can then be
shaped and inlaid into your bookcover.
Once you begin working with the eggshell a gazillion possibilities will occur
to you.
And you can do much worse than to steal ideas from the work of Jean Dunand,
and not only his deco book covers.

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