As you might have seen in yesterday’s article, I am currently working a lot with egg shells. Mostly I put cut-out panels in front of printed images and like to think they are related to tunnel books.

Working with these, I ended up with a lot of broken eggshells, too. Just to get rid of them, I thought: Why not make an eggshell panel? I remembered vaguely having read a tutorial before, and it was pretty straight forwar: 1) break egg, 2) glue to paper, 3) cover in black, 4) sand the hell out of it.

And since this was just a by-product anyway, and being the person I am, I just set out to make my first panel without looking at any other instructions.

First Panel I ever made; halfway through the sanding process

This first attempt, made a few days after my open studio in beginning of May just totally blew me away, and I have been making loads of them since then. – And I am going to make more, since: How could you better display eggshell-tunnel-books than in a eggshell-panel covered box?!

For the first panel, I really struggled with the sanding. It took me several hours, spread out over two days to sand it to a state where I could reasonably let it be without thinking I had given up. But that was mostly, because I was on my last sheet of sandpaper, and it was a, I don’t remember, maybe an 800. By the time I had finished the first, a new delivery of paper reached me, and along with it, a delicious amoutn of No. 120 paper which really cut sanding significantly shorter. I learned to give the sanded piece a last polish with really fine paper; in the new pack was a No. 8000! I next experimented with colour. For my first gold piece, I also polished the coated panel, and then gave it another gloss coat. And look how it shines and reflects the sunshine:

two eggshell panels in the sunshine

I also did a first box-covering trial and covered a matchbox with the golden eggshell panel:

eggshell covered matchbox

In the meantime of course I read up on the subject. Online the best resource for me was this blogpost by Jana Pullman. It turns out, I am doing a few things a little differently, but all in all the process is pretty straight forward.

So how do I do it? It’s really simple:

  1. Remove inner skin of the egg from the shell. This fine skin (there are at least 2 I believe) keeps even cracked eggshell together, and so we can’t have this.
  2. Glue the eggshell to the paper. I prefer washi for this (some left-overs from my scroll printing). But I tried different papers: When using black paper for the white on black panel, then little left-out spots don’t show. I leave it to you to decide whether that’s an advatage or disadvantage. Press down the pieces firmly. I pulled larger pieces away from each other, but left pieces with hairline cracks lying next to each other. For glue I used my usual bookbinder’s glue.
  3. Cover the whole thing in gesso.
  4. Sand it all off again.
  5. Coat with a gloss varnish.
  6. Use on your next book.

I am going to make a Coptic book from these pages and covers.

I experimented enough with these panels, that I felt confident enough to record a skillshare class about the whole process. So if you want to learn in more detail about the process, head over here:

The link will carry you to skillshare where you can see the first introductory video of the class. You’ll need to sign up to the plattform to see the whole tutorial, and you’ll have to pay for your membership. But once you paid, you have access to a cornucopia of tutorials, including all my classes, but also everything else on skillshare on a whole range of topics.

If you sign up through the link above, I’ll receive a referal-bonus, and you’ll get the first two months for free (this was the deal when I last checked, offers vary through the year, but it will always be beneficial for you to sign up through a referal link rather than from where you directly access the website), so win-win for both of us. – I hope I’ll see you there!

Oh, before I forget:

If you do mount your eggshell panel onto a book cover, you’ll need to do something more than just glue it down. Even if you sanded your piece a lot, it will still have a substantial thickness, and if you just simply glue it to your cover, it will peel up over time. If you are attaching a rectangular or otherwise very regular piece, then setting it into the cover might be the easiest choice: remove part of the cardboard, and/or part of your leather cover, and inset your eggshell panel.

I had such an irregular shape for my cover above, that I decided to pare down the leather after glueing it on instead:

That was a lot of work, but worked perfectly.

So have fun with this technique!

3 replies on “Eggshell Panels”

  1. I also meant to say – did you use wet or dry sandpaper? If all parts are water proof you may be able to use it. With wet or dry sandpaper a little running water and maybe a bit of soap as a lubricant might make the sanding a little easier. I hate sanding. So tedious.

    1. Hello Judith, thanks for you comment! I am glad that you found my explanations useful.
      As to the sanding paper: I used dry sandpaper, but I suppose you could try something wet. The sanding makes the panel loose it’s brilliance, and I know some people wash their panels afterwards. I didn’t really trust water on it, and rather just dusted it.
      The shells of course are waterproof, and then everything sits in a coat of acrylics, so that should be save, too. Just remember that you have the shells mounted on paper, and I would think this gets wet, either from the backside, or through tiny holes in the front that your sanding might even help produce. So you would have to be careful that it’s really all dry before you apply it somewhere – because once it’s attached to something else, it will be hard for the moisture to escape.
      And yes, I also found the sanding the hardest bit! Peter Verheyen recommended a small sander…

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