My Eggshell Paintings

flat of painted blown eggs

My mother, Verna Lebow Norman, a sculptor and painter, taught me and my siblings to blow eggshells and paint them when we were in elementary school.

My method: I use a thick hand sewing needle to pierce one end of the shell and to chip off tiny pieces until there is a hole about 1/4 across. Using the same method, I make a bigger hole at the other end. Then I use the needle to break up the yolk. I blow through the small hole, so the raw egg goes into a bowl through the bigger hole. (If it’s very hard to blow out the egg, make bigger holes, and scramble the egg more thoroughly.) Then I let the egg shell dry for a day or two, so the remaining raw egg white seals and hardens the inside of the shell. I don’t cook with the raw eggs that are blown out of the shells, because they have shell fragments in them. Once the shells are completely dry inside and out, I like to seal up the holes by gluing circles of colored tissue paper over them.  By gluing on a loop of ribbon or cord at the narrower top of the shell, the decorated eggs can be displayed by hanging them from a horizontally suspended, slender tree branch.  This allows each eggshell to be viewed on all of its curving surfaces.

Most of these painted eggshells are from a decade of my life inwhich each spring I would prepare blown eggs for myself and some children I knew, and we would paint them together, using enamel paints and nail polish, and sometimes glue things onto them. Mine were mostly “wish eggs” – visualizations of experiences I wanted to materialize.

I will also share here a couple of eggshells that I prepared and decorated around the age of 10.

I painted this eggshell (with nail polish) shortly before I turned 40. It says: “I am a precious being at every stage of my life.”  Yes, we all are.

I am a Precious Being egg

Here are three views of an egg I painted a few years later, in celebration of vegetable gardening.  I painted asparagus, rutabaga, radishes, crookneck squash, scallions and tat soi.


Here’s an eggshell with the opening line of Paul Desmond’s jazz classic, “Take Five,” a song I learned to sing and to play on guitar.


This egg is a wish from my 25 years based on Maui, to make friends with a whale in the ocean.


This one depicts a lop-eared rabbit of my acquaintance, contemplating a carrot patch after a long night of hiding Easter eggs.

Here’s the “vegetable that will bleed for you,” as Tom Robbins described beets in his timeless novel “Jitterbug Perfume.” I call this “Heart Beets.”

Heart Beets Egg

This one reminds me of the last line of Amanda McBroom’s song, “The Rose.”
“Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that, with the sun’s love, in the spring, becomes the rose.”

Far beneath the bitter snows Egg

A (purple!) guitar and a colorful stream of musical notes: a wish egg for joyful song.


Here is a wish egg for romance!  It came true, too.


Here are a couple of the eggs I decorated when I was about ten years old:
“The Girl in the Pink Turban,” and “The Lady in the Lace Mantilla.”