2nd April 2021
With Easter now upon us, we wanted to write about something which would combine our love of embroidery with the Easter holiday. It didn’t take a lot of searching before we were well and truly wowed.
Embroidery on Eggshells (source)
Unbelievably, there are stitchers out there who looked at the humble egg, and immediately wondered whether it would be possible to embroider on it. Challenge aside, it seems there are plenty of artists who have succeeded in this most delicate of crafts.
Embroidery on eggshells? Who would have thought it?
We were pleased to see that our friend, Mary Corbet, was one of those amazing embroiderers. We have to give her a huge thank you for her intrepid explorations into this particular technique. Her experiments and adventures definitely influenced us, but as odd as the concept might seem, Mary is not alone in her desire to create embroidered eggs.
Embroidered Eggshells from the Au Feminin Website (source)
Easter eggs in general have a somewhat mixed and mysterious origin, although it is commonly believed that the association between eggs and Easter comes from the notions of fertility, rebirth and renewal.
Ostrich Egg, Egypt, Dating to around 3600 BC (source)
Decorated eggs appear in history as far back as pre-dynastic Egypt and Mesopotamia, leading to the adoption of the symbol into Christianity during the Middle Ages.
In any case, eggs are a very popular part of Easter today, as anyone with a child or grandchild (or a chocolate addiction!) will likely know.
Most Easter eggs are brightly coloured, whether wrapped in shining foil or dyed or painted in beautiful colours. So, it makes sense that if an egg is to be decorated, surely there must be a way to do it with a needle and thread?
Decorated Eggs by Maria from BlackRedDots (source)
And apparently, there is. Naturally, the biggest problem with stitching on eggshells is the fact that they are delicate and brittle and therefore liable to break easily. Mary Corbet’s overall advice if you’d like to give this technique a try? Do it very carefully!
From online tutorial ‘How to Decorate Easter Eggs with Embroidery Stitches’ by BlackRedDots (source)
But logic tells us that a needle is straight and an egg is a closed object, so how does one go about drawing the needle and thread through the shell? There are two answers to this. Some tutorials suggest cutting the back off of the egg with a tool like a Dremel drill, so that you can pass the needle in and out of the holes that you will subsequently make. This means the egg will sit neatly afterwards without rolling, or you can try to glue the cut piece back on once the stitching is complete.
Cross Stitched Easter Eggs by Inna Forostyuk (source)
Mary Corbet states that she prefers an egg to be whole – cutting the back off is sort of like cheating! However, that meant she needed to find alternative ways to pass the needle through the shell.
Mary Corbet’s Readily Drill Egg (L) and Goose Eggs Design (R) (source)
Her solution was to drill holes in the pattern she wanted, ensuring there were holes on all sides of the egg. She could then pass her needle through two holes at once, one on either side. On the return pass, she put the needle back through the second hole, bringing it out at a new hole opposite to form the next stitch.
Rather than going through the ins and outs in detail, we’d rather direct you to Mary’s incredibly comprehensive tutorials on embroidering eggs if you are keen to give it a try. You’ll see the mistakes she made and you’ll learn exactly how to go about doing it.
Mary Corbet’s Embroidered Egg WIPs (source)
We have to admit, we’re a little in awe of the determination all egg embroiderers show. One stitch too tight and the whole thing could collapse. However, if you persevere, you’ll end up with some of the most inspiring and beautiful Easter eggs imaginable.
If you do try this technique, we would love to see your results. But even if you don’t, we hope you’ll enjoy admiring all of the wonderful, embroidered eggs created by others, while you’re nibbling the last of that divine chocolate Easter egg that you saved all for yourself!