Craftsman of the Month
The December Craftsperson of the Month is Jan Wilson of Vernon, British Columbia, for her dreamcatcher-decorated shell of a blown ostrich egg. Jan gets her eggs from a friend who raises ostriches. Ostrich ranchers may have them for sale, or a local craft store may know where you can get ostrich eggshells.
Here is how she made this work of art: "Ostrich eggs usually allow for a 4-inch hole. Draw a circle on paper and measure its circumference. Cut a length of wire 1/2 inch longer than the hole's circumference. Make a hoop by bending the wire around a right-sized can or other round object. File the ends slightly so they will overlap smoothly for 1/2 inch. Flux the ends and solder them together. File off any rough spots. Center the hoop on top of the egg. Draw around the inside of the wire with a pencil.
"With the small circular cutting blade of a Dremel tool, slowly cut around the outside of the pencil mark, while holding the egg gently but firmly. (I place it on a towel inside a small, shallow box on a table, and hold it in my hand. An ostrich eggshell is actually quite tough.)
"Next, lay the hoop on top of the hole to make sure your work is even. No shell should show inside the hoop, but you do want just enough lip onto which to glue the hoop. Mark any uneven spots with a pencil. (If you slip, an eraser removes the marks just fine.) Holding the egg gently but firmly, use the Dremel's grinding tool to carefully grind around the inside of the hole to smooth out these spots and make the hole fit the hoop. (The hoop can be bent somewhat, but try to keep it circular or slightly oval.)
"Remove any stains by soaking the shell in bleach and water for about 30 minutes, then peel off the inner membrane with your fingers. Let the shell dry while you construct its dreamcatcher.
"Attach a 60-foot length of Tigertail to the hoop with a couple of knots. (These will be hidden later under the trim.) Divide the hoop into eight sections with small dabs from an indelible felt pen. Make half-hitch knots with the Tigertail at each of these marks, keeping it fairly snug. On your second pass, start adding semiprecious beads, while continuing the half-hitches around the circle, spiraling to the center. Use the largest first and save the smaller beads for the center. When the remaining hole is about 1 inch, tie off the wire and run the end under a nearby bead.
"Now place the dreamcatcher on top of the hole in the egg, making sure no shell shows inside the hoop. Run a bead of 527 glue around the edge of the hole and place the dreamcatcher on it. Leave the egg resting with the dreamcatcher facing up. Place a small round object on top of the dreamcatcher for weight (a small bowl or rubber ball--just enough to make the hoop contact the shell). Let this dry for 24 hours. Next, run a bead of 527 glue around the top of the hoop. Starting at the center top, place your trim on the glue, making sure the wire is well hidden. Pat the trim down onto the glue, and let that dry for 24 hours.
"To hide the join in the trim I cut a section out of a plastic gold or silver pony bead with the cutter on my Dremel and glue that over the join. But a bow or other ornament would also work. Let that dry for 24 hours as well.
"Put some 527 glue on your egg stand (available at craft stores, but I use a brass candle holder), and center the egg on it carefully. Let dry another 24 hours. Then sit back and enjoy your creation!
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