Egg shell carv­ing is a crack­ing good hobby

Central Leader - - NEWS - By ROSE CAWLEY

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.

Pho­tos: GARY CHAN

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.