Egg shell carving is a cracking good hobby
We all know you can’t put a broken egg back together again.
But someone who knows that better than most is egg shell carver Jim Xue.
While most people scramble, poach or boil their eggs, Jim is busy searching his for imperfections. And even a hairline crack is the last thing he wants.
‘‘If it is not damaged then I make a small hole using a syringe needle, then I blow the egg out and fill it with fresh water and rinse inside to clean it – it takes a while to do.’’
Mr Xue says what follows is the fun bit – choosing the design and putting a drill bit to brittle veneer.
He has a vast collection of shells which he has intricately etched with many designs.
In 1997, two years after moving to New Zealand from China, he was at the Pakuranga Library when inspiration struck him.
‘‘I saw on the back of a magazine these photos of this guy who had made 371 triangles on a goose egg – it shocked me.’’
The seed had been planted and Mr Xue had a taste for egg shell carving.
But he says with a fulltime job he didn’t have a lot of time to devote to the hobby and it fell by the wayside until 2011.
‘‘My wife was watching the TV and she saw that some guy in China is doing some really beautiful egg shell carving and she said, ‘are you sure you can do it?’
‘‘And after that I restarted it. The first one I did was for the Rugby World Cup using the logos of all the teams.’’
He says his interest in the eccentric hobby had hatched and his intrigue grew rapidly.
His collection of well over 100 now boasts everything from baroque patterns to faces of famous people.
‘‘Carving the faces is my latest interest. In the past month I have probably made nearly 20. I’ve done Chinese leaders, Jackie Chan, Chopin, Beethoven and Sir Edmund Hillary.’’
Not only does he carve the common hen’s egg but Mr Xue has also used emu, ostrich, quail, duck and budgie eggs to display his nimble handiwork.
He says carving a face on a hen’s egg takes around four hours, with some of his bigger projects taking up to six weeks.
‘‘To make them you really need to concentrate and pay attention to what you are doing. If you aren’t feeling well, if you are feeling tired you have to stop.’’
He says otherwise the consequences are crushing.
‘‘When you are doing the last part of the carving the egg is very weak and so you just have to make one little mistake and it is gone.
‘‘There are only two outcomes: Success or a broken egg shell, yes or no, it works or it doesn’t.’’
He says when he cracks an egg there is no sunnyside up, only hours and hours of intricate work wasted.
He was recently asked to donate one of his works to a charity auction. It sold for $500 and he was chuffed to say the least.
Unusual hobby: Bucklands Beach egg shell carver Jim Xue working on one of his latest pieces.
Winning design: The emu egg shell which sealed Jim Xue’s passion for egg shell carving.