What do you get if you combine an egg, a carving knife and a pair of able hands? In Pu Derong’s case the answer is a breathtaking work of art. The 40-year-old self-taught artist from China’s Hebei Province can guide a knife across an egg’s thin shell to create amazing three-dimensional designs.
“I had always been fascinated by eggs as a child,” Pu says. “They are so fragile. Artists use canvases; eggs are mine.” The talented artist from Dongzhuangtou village showed a great interest in painting and calligraphy from a very young age, but he didn’t have the financial resources to attend a specialized art school, so he taught himself. In his adult years he did all kinds of manual labor, worked as a repairman and as a chef, but never gave up on his passion for art. One day, he discovered eggshell carving completely by accident, and he’s been hooked ever since. He made his own carving knife, and after hundreds of failed attempts, he started to master the art of carving on a fragile 0.3 mm eggshell canvas, creating all kinds of beautiful designs, from nature-inspired patterns, to Chinese traditional motifs and architectural pieces. Today, he is recognized as one of China’s most skilled artists, and his masterpieces have won several awards in various contests and exhibitions.
You’re probably already familiar with eggshell carving as an art form, but while most artists pierce the shell to create their designs, Pu Derong has to keep his hands perfectly steady throughout the whole artistic process to peel away just a bit of the 0.3 mm eggshell canvas to create his 3D artworks. One wrong move can ruin hours of painstaking work, so Pu Derong says he has to remain concentrated from the moment his knife touches the shell until the piece is completed. Although on occasions he uses dyes, most times the artist takes advantage of the egg’s natural coloring to highlight his work. Pu says that because of the eggshell’s high calcium content, his creations can be stored for long periods of time, and have great collection value.
Photos: Xinhua News Agency