The intersection of grief and breakfast
August 13, 2012 7:37 PM   Subscribe

How do I make eggs that look like David Rakoff's?

Rakoff's death led Salon to post his short essay (linked above) about crafting metallic looking eggs. I'm motivated out of celebrity grief to try and create some of my own. I've got the eggs and graphite... now what?

Rubbing graphite on the eggs does produce a modest grey shine but certainly nothing as rich or shiny as the two pictures. The second picture almost looks coppery.

I'm open to any suggestions as I'm more of a handy person than a crafty person.
posted by chairface to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The article states how he blew the eggs out, put the tees in, and colored the eggs with a black Sharpie. Then he added the graphite. Maybe the Sharpie layer adds the shine?
posted by cooker girl at 7:58 PM on August 13, 2012

Oh, somehow I missed the second picture and the text that goes along with it. He says something about nail polish and varnish? But that was to repair the broken one, so I'm not sure how you'd go about that. Maybe he covered it in clear nail polish and then varnish, just to stabilize it?
posted by cooker girl at 8:01 PM on August 13, 2012

I think the second picture looks coppery because of lighting and whatever's being reflected off the shiny surface.
posted by erst at 8:05 PM on August 13, 2012

He started with brown eggs, blew them out, colored them with black Sharpie then rubbed them with graphite.
I think the brown eggshell base is key.
posted by Floydd at 8:09 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

What kind of graphite powder are you using? General's is much shinier than AGS.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:10 PM on August 13, 2012

Reading the article, it sounds like he didn't rub the eggs with a pencil, but applied powdered graphite to them in some way.

I think the coppery look on the second photo is a reflection of the photographer (Rakoff himself?). Which might imply that the appearance of the eggs in the photos is a little misleading.
posted by Sara C. at 8:10 PM on August 13, 2012

OK, I've now read the whole thing through a few times, and it sounds like this is what he did:

1. acquire brown eggs.

2. blow out whites and yolks, leaving shells intact.

3. glue shells to golf tees.

4. color shells black with sharpie*.

5. rub blackened shells with graphite powder.

6. invite over clumsy friend.

7. painstakingly reconstruct eggs.

*This causes me to wonder what the color difference would be with different colored sharpies. Red? Green? Some wild color from those multi-packs you can get?
posted by Sara C. at 8:16 PM on August 13, 2012

Rakoff's friend brought both powdered graphite and graphite sticks. If you get sticks, you want the softest ones possible. The hard ones can be scratchy on paper, let alone eggshell.

You might also experiment with conté crayons, which are graphite or charcoal in a wax or clay base. They are available in more colours, but I suspect the graphite is probably a more subtle, elegant and permanent pigment.

Combining powder, graphite sticks and maybe a little sanguine conté might be a nice effect. And as Sara C. says, a different base colour in Sharpie would add some interesting undertones.

(When you blow out the many, many eggs, try making a nice clafouti.)
posted by maudlin at 8:24 PM on August 13, 2012

So I have conté and various graphite sticks on hand, and I did have clafouti today, so I rescued a few egg shells and experimented.

I tried conté, but I really didn't like it much. The waxy texture didn't work well on the shell. It might be nice slowly layered on and rubbed in (with DRY fingers), so if you have conté, go ahead and play, but it won't work well with pure graphite.

On a new shell, I used a "black" faux-Sharpie from Staples that looked black on paper, but it showed up as deep grape on the egg shell. I used the softest graphite stick I had on hand (4B -- you can go even softer to 9B) and tried some quick colouring on top and got this.

I deliberately didn't try to make a solid covering of graphite, so you can see the linear pattern from the stick. It looks more distressed pewter than black, but a true black Sharpie base and real graphite powder to fill in any gaps should make a difference. I rubbed in more graphite after this picture, but if you want to fill the pores, you need graphite powder, as Rakoff said.
posted by maudlin at 9:08 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

By strange coincidence, I purchased brown eggs for this as this is what Trader Joe's had in the half dozen. So that's a check. I also picked up a tub of Generals Graphite, again entirely by chance. I do not have a Sharpie but I do have a Sanford's. After blowing it out and doodling it with the Sanford then rubbing graphite on it, I had a splotchy appearance. I baked the egg in the oven to dry it out and had made another pass with the Sanford and more graphite. I got this which is pretty close though not coppery at all.

I don't have a graphite stick so I'll be heading back to the art supply store.
posted by chairface at 9:32 PM on August 13, 2012

Oh, those are great results! The powder really gives a smooth coating. Get a graphite stick only if you really want to experiment with texture.
posted by maudlin at 9:45 PM on August 13, 2012

Wow, that's gorgeous.

I'm 100% sure that the "coppery" effect in the second photo is a reflection of the photographer's pinkish-beige face.

That said, I wonder if a red sharpie would give a coppery effect?
posted by Sara C. at 9:55 PM on August 13, 2012

I think you are on the right track, chairface!

Red Sharpie or maybe a coat of coppery nail polish between Sharpie and graphite? The 99 cent nail polish from the drugstore is great for crafts.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:28 PM on August 14, 2012

Thanks everyone. Here's some samples if you want to make your own.

Nail polish dissolves the sharpie pigment so it makes kind of a mess.
posted by chairface at 12:15 PM on August 16, 2012

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