My first question to mosaic artist Linda Biggers was, shamelessly: how did you step on eggshells as a suitable material for mosaics?
Ha. As I soon learned, it was the potential of eggshells as a medium that led Biggers to mosaics, and not the other way around. Before her very first eggshell mosaic, BIggers was an artist, a graphic designer, even a photographer, and certainly a ‘maker’ -- but never a mosaicist. Then, one day in 1998, she decided she wanted to make a mosaic table top.
Living in Upstate New York with her husband and two daughters, mosaics were not very well-known and supplies were not readily available.
But her mother owned chickens.
She experimented with broken eggshells, applying layers of ModgePodge, an all-around glue, sealant and finish widely used in decoupage and other crafts, and found that it gave fragile eggshells the required strength.
“Eggshells are surprisingly durable,” she says, although we all know that Mother Nature wouldn’t mess around with such an important thing as an egg. That first table top mosaic is still in fine form - though it is hanging on a wall -- long after the legs of the table were broken amidst her house full of kids.
Biggers went on to make many more eggshell mosaics, refining her technique by trial and error and discovering many other assets of this medium. Eggshells are durable. They are portable. They take up little space and are easy to clean up. She found that her eggshell mosaics sold really well. And the materials are cheap!
But mostly she fell in love with their flexibility as a material for her art. Always inspired by nature and seasonal changes, she also found ideas in Native American, Mexican, and African art; from what she envisioned when reading a book; even from her dreams. Dance and dancers are frequent subjects.
“The eggshell allowed me to create images with so much detail. I even found a way to cut the eggshell into specific and deliberate shapes,” she says.
Want to know how? Biggers will be conducting an eggshell mosaic workshop at the Institute of Mosaic Art the weekend of March 6-7. She is bringing with her a tool kit and pre-prepped supplies for each student -- although IMA staff are not averse to making soufflés while students practice on fresh eggs.
Students will learn how to prep, cut, color, and -- excuse me - lay the egg[shells].
I asked her the obvious question: Is this a medium for the impatient? Probably not, she allows. But you have to try it to find out if it’s for you. And once you learn the techniques that she has spent years perfecting, maybe, as with glass micro mosaics, it is not as tedious as you might imagine.
And the satisfaction! So worth it.
“With the use of eggshell tesserae - plus glass, natural stone and slate, if I choose to mix them -- I am able to create works with the color and intense drama that I enjoy. I love texture, brilliant colors and creating pieces that will evoke feelings and emotions to the viewer,” Biggers says.
“Art has always been a part of my life. Today, my greatest joy is in creating mosaics.”