Imagine what it is like to decorate an eggshell with patterns and figures, to see how they appear under your fingers, the form is strange, an unusual beauty. We were able to look behind the curtain of carving craft in the studio of Volodymyr Motorny.
His works impress even those who have been into this craft for a long time.
It started about three years ago when the man saw such carved eggs on the Internet. He got into it and came down with that, he says it is incurable. Volodymyr is one of those who is said to be “jack-of-all-trades”. There must be nothing he couldn’t master.
He is used to taking on new crafts, he is a furniture maker, a decorator and a special effects master. He can make a cake, which will open on a big stage and dancers will come out of it or a flower which will bloom during a dance. He does it in the local Aesthetic Education Centre for Children and Youth.
So, Volodymyr Motorny decided to master carving by himself as well by watching tutorials.
The man creates a carved beauty on goose, chicken, ostrich and even quail eggs. He mostly uses goose eggs, as they are the most solid and available material. To understand the material and in order, to carved embroidery been born, the man had beaten many eggs.
He has only recently started to work with ostrich eggs. He buys them near Poltava, where the ostrich farm is.
“An eggshell is solid, it’s not very easy to open it. When friends buy them, I’m kidding that they’d better bring them to me or I can come and open an egg properly so they won’t spoil the material for work,” the master says.
Motorny says that an ostrich egg is as 16 chicken eggs in size. The family uses egg whites and yolks for food, while eggshells are used for the work.
Volodymyr made first tools by himself – a table which works with exhaust hood. It allows Volodymyr not to breathe in dust. As he is a furniture maker, he had already got some tools except for a dental drill, which was given him by his friend-dentist. It has begun since that. The master is carving a white material for hours. One pattern takes about 12 hours to make.
Before carving, he puts a pattern with a pencil. It is important to erase it carefully at the end of the work not to mess up a finished piece. He has several magnifiers not to worsen his sight. This delicate work requires a huge concentration. It also can be hard to sit in a certain way for hours. Actually, carving is not a simple craft. It is very important to remove the membrane from the eggshell. He made up some life hacks. For example, how to remove a membrane which is always in an egg.
“Before carving, I need to remove that membrane and it is not that simple,” the master says. “Carvers don’t tell how to do it as it is their secret. I’ve read about two methods, but I didn’t like them and they weren’t very clear. The masters must have concealed some peculiarities. Moreover, those methods required about two weeks to remove a membrane. That’s why I have invented my own method. Some people offered me money for it, but it remained my” know-how”, I didn’t sell the secret. The founder of the World egg art cyber museum advised me not to sell the secret. We are friends on the Internet. She said that I could lose my value as a professional because I won’t have my feature, my peculiarity.”
Some Motorny’s works are not just beautiful, they are functional. They can be used as bowl shades for lamps (all carved ostrich eggs can be used this way). Now, the carver is working on a jewel-box.
Carvers have their own union
Carvers from all over the world have their own World Carvers Union (there are 54 members there). Carvers have their online museum (World egg art cyber museum) and a community in a social network where they share their experience, achievements, new works, and discoveries. They have their own competitions where best works are estimated. Motorny’s works are highly appreciated in the community.
They didn’t believe him at first that he had been only 1 year into the craft. Some people needed several years to learn to work with eggshells delicately and precisely (from a pattern design to its carving), the material is very fragile.
“Some people on the Internet didn’t believe those were my works. They asked whether I could repeat that, whether it was really my work. I was sending photos of all the stages: from a supermarket where I bought an egg, how I was removing a membrane – I sent photos of each stage. The point is that it is impossible to make one pattern twice – there are no two identical eggs as well as carved eggs. An eggshell can be a bit thinner or thicker and a pattern will lie differently. The material is fragile, if there is a small crack, everything will be messed up. It won’t break at once, but it will do eventually. Once, I tried to repeat my work but anyway I needed to remove some patterns and it wasn’t the same. I made a better work then and showed that I was the author,” the carver says.
Masters decorate their carvings differently: some use jewels, gilding, paints etc. Volodymyr Motorny mostly works with the original colour, he only makes interesting stands of copper or other metals. However, some of his works are also decorated with jewels, silver or gold paint.
He doesn’t let touch his works: friends happened to break his works accidently. He trusts only himself in this craft – he knows for sure how to treat carvings properly.
Volodymyr says that such exclusive things are appreciated in the whole world.
Volodymyr is not well-known in Poltava and the region. He has been invited several times to participate in exhibitions. They are arranged by the Poltava Art Museum in the “Town of Masters” – for example as the “Easter Pysanka” (pysanka is a colored and decorated egg). He saw there some women-masters, however, their works were made in a shkriabanka (pol. Scrobac – to scrab) style and using a wax technique. So, he didn’t see masters who worked in the same technique in real life.
Volodymyr has created more than one hundred carvings, he doesn’t know the exact amount. He mostly gifts them to friends and relatives. Some of his carvings have been sent overseas.
Text and photo by Nina Korol