The Making of ‘The Cave Egg’

posted in: Crafts, Easter

cave egg diorama how to food network magazine missouriLate last year, I got an email from an editor at Food Network Magazine asking me to decorate an Easter egg for the April issue. They were planning to feature an egg from each of the 50 states, and I was pleased as punch to be the chosen Missouri crafter (and a little surprised, considering my, er, colorful language).

Obviously, I was super into it from the get-go, but to be honest, the initial concept was a bit of a challenge. I had a hard time coming up with something that screamed “Missouri!” that wasn’t super city specific. Yes, everyone knows Kansas City barbecue, the St. Louis Arch, and Branson’s flashy everything. But other than weird weather, rivers (boring!), and I-70 (the most boring), there’s not a ton that ties the whole state together. I was seriously about to go with some tired-ass riverboat theme, but then I remembered that Missouri is the goddamn Cave State (seriously, my state is home to more than 6,000 caves) and I love making dioramas, so I pitched the idea of hollowing out an egg to make it into a tiny little baby cave. It took a little work to convince them to let me go this route (especially since I’d never actually made a diorama inside of an egg shell before). And yes, I broke more than a few eggs in the process. But I eventually figured out how to cut into and reinforce the shell, and somehow even managed to overnight my delicate little diorama to the Hearst offices in New York without a ding.

egg diorama food network magazine

I encourage you to pick up a copy, because while mine may be the weirdest, there are some straight up works of art in there. And should you want to make a diorama egg yourself, it it’s actually pretty easy, as long as you’re not in a hurry — because it’s mostly a whole lot of sitting around waiting for paint to dry. Oh, and you’re going to break a lot of eggs at first, so you should probably just be prepared to make a frittata or something.

Now, before I get to the tutorial, my vanity (including my futile attempts to appear like one of those Instagram moms with long, pale fingers) has compelled me to point out that:

  • These step-by-step pictures were taken immediately following my smash cake Blogiversary photo session. I only mention this because while, yes, I have kind of reddish fat fingers anyway, sugar causes me some issues with inflammation including puffy fingers.
  • As of this exact moment, I’m now using all my fancy serums and creams on my hands, because damn.
  • Since I just talked about my inflammation, it’s probably time to accept that my hands probably aren’t getting any younger. So somebody pass me the Metamucil already.

P.S. If you’re interested in decorating (much easier) Easter eggs with me and you live in or around Kansas City, join me at Boulevard Brewing Company on Wednesday, March 28 for the Easter egg edition of my Paper Crafts + Boozy Drafts event series.

how to make a diorama egg

How to Make a Diorama Egg

To make the base for a diorama egg, you’ll need:

  • Eggs (I mean, you technically only need one, but you should definitely start with a full dozen)
  • A pencil
  • A thumbtack or X-Acto knife
  • Cuticle clippers or small, very sharp scissors
  • A small paintbrush
  • Matte Finish Mod Podge

If you want to recreate The Cave Egg, you’ll also need:

  • Green paint
  • Black paint
  • Some really strong glue that will probably give you cancer
  • Tiny pieces of raw quartz or other crystals/rocks
  • Fake moss

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Draw a rough approximation of the area you’d like to cut. Apparently you need to do this with a very dull pencil. (Sober me totally would have insisted on a very sharp pencil for this picture, by the way. Drunk me clearly didn’t give a fuck.)

how to make a diorama egg2. Firmly but carefully perforate the line (or the area fairly close to it) with a thumb tack or tip of the X-Acto knife. The X-Acto knife actually works much better, but you’re less likely to cut off the tip of your finger with the thumb tack so you should probably just go that route. Anyway, the perforation will keep the shell from cracking too much when you cut into it.

how to make a diorama egg3. Starting at one of the perforation points, use cuticle clippers or very small, sharp scissors to make the first cut in the egg. Keep clipping — following the perforation with small, delicate cuts — until you’ve made it all the way around. And just to be honest: You’re probably going to screw up steps 2 and 3 a few times until you figure out the perfect pressure for perforation and clipping. But that’s okay and like I said, you can make a frittata, or even just salvage the whites for a delicious Rhubarb Whiskey Sour.

how to make a diorama egg4. At this point, you’ll want to carefully rinse out the egg, and possibly kind of roll the inner membrane out with your fingertip if you feel it in there (if not, don’t worry about it). Then set the egg in a safe place to let it dry completely.

5. Once the egg is fully dry, inside and out, give the inside a coat of matte finish Mod Podge. Let that dry (at least to the touch, about 20 minutes minimum) then coat the outside as well. This reinforces the shell and the somewhat precarious opening you just created, making the whole thing less susceptible to cracking. The Mod Podge also acts like a primer, creating a nice base for paint. Once the Mod Podge is dry, you can turn your egg into any old tiny diorama your little heart desires. If you’re interested in recreating The Cave Egg, keep reading.

how to make a diorama egg6. Now it’s time to paint the egg. I chose green for the outside and black for the inside (because cave). Like with the Mod Podge, you’ll want to let the paint dry on one part before moving onto the next. (See? I told you this was a whole lot of waiting.)

diorama egg how to7. When the paint is completely dry, you can begin gently gluing your small stones inside the egg (I used E6000, which is a super-strong craft glue that’s probably going to turn me into a giant cancer). At first I’d planned to just put stones on the bottom, but then I remembered learning about stalactites and stalagmites in fourth or fifth grade, and decided I needed some quartz on top, too. I’m still debating whether or not this was a good idea — especially since my demo egg (not the one in the mag) looks kind of like the mouth of a monster badly in need of dental work. If you do decide to add some rocks hanging from the top, definitely make sure the ones on bottom are fully dry so you can let the top stones dry glue-side down (more waiting for shit to dry, I know).

8. Finally, glue some fake moss to the outside of your egg to make it all earthy and shit.

stalactites and stalagmitesCongratulations! If you’ve made it this far, you’ve just read the world’s most detailed tutorial for a craft you’ll probably never make. Still, I’m so glad you stopped by. And see what I mean about the monster mouth? Luckily, this was just my demo egg, and Food Network Magazine has the nicer one that looks much more like an actual cave.

diorama egg how to

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2 Responses

  1. Mackenzie
    | Reply

    I just saw your lovely egg in the Food Network Magazine! I’m a Missouri native and my maiden name is Farris! =)

    • Emily
      | Reply

      Hey, possible relative! Thanks for stopping by!

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