by April Helms

Special Products Editor;

When most people think of art, they think canvas, or pottery, or paper, or perhaps glass and crafting.

But eggshells?

Absolutely. There are entire guilds created dedicated to members interested in studying and practicing the many forms of egg art.

Cassandra Steiger is a Hudson egg artist, who likes to take egg shells and create jewelry boxes, dioramas and egg carvings.

"I haven't been doing this for too long," Steiger said. "I started when I was 17, but I didn't do this long because I didn't have the money. This is an expensive hobby. I started again a couple years ago, when I wanted to make something for my daughters and for some friends."

The amount of time a piece takes depends on the scope of the item, along with her previous experience in making something like it before. For example, an impressive-looking coach, made of an ostrich egg and complete with wheels, rhinestone trim, hinged doors and traces for the model horses, took about 70 hours.

"That was one of my first pieces," Steiger said. "There was a woman I knew from online who provided CDs and a Web cam on how to do it."

Another piece, where half an eggshell makes up the skirt for a doll figurine, took about two hours, she added.

"Some don't take long at all," she said. "I just get an idea and go with it. It depends on if you know how to do it, it's faster. If you've never done it, it takes longer."

Steiger said a big help to her and other egg artists is the ability to communicate and swap ideas online. She belongs "to a couple egg groups online."

"They are not secretive as to how they do this or that," she said of the other eggers she has met online. "They are very nice, they help so much."

The Internet also can be a tool for purchasing materials online, although she did caution that any items bought should be checked. The closest store that sells materials for egg art is in Girard, which also is the location for a large, annual egg show, she added. Other area egg shows, including an annual egg show generally scheduled the weekend before Easter in Akron, also are good places to buy egg supplies.

When she is not working on her craft, she works for Giant Eagle, Steiger said.

"I don't do this every day," she said of her egg art. "But when I get an idea, I work and work on it. I can work for days."

Many of her eggs involve carving some part of the shell, decorating and hinging, she said.

"The hardest step for me is the hinging," she said. "I like to do the beading, although that takes a long time."

Those interested in egg art should try painting or decorating the outside of a shell first before going to the more advanced step of carving, Steiger said. And while the chicken shells one can obtain from the local grocery story can work nicely for beginners who are starting to decorate, chicken eggs are not good for carving.

"They are too fragile," she said. "They crumble in your hands."

Cutting the egg in half for a jewelry box or carving a hole to make a diorama are the easier things to do in carving and a good place for budding egg carvers to start, she said. With experience and the right tools, they can then go on creating more intricate designs into the egg shell.

Most of her family doesn't quite understand her obsession with egg art, Steiger said with a laugh.

"They laugh at me, they call me 'scrambled,'" she said.

E-mail: ahelms@recordpub.com

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