Vinegar etching is easy to do, and can produce dramatic results. Native American pottery and petroglyph designs are particularly adaptable to this method, as they use minimal colors and depend largely on pattern and design.
Here are the materials you will need:
A regular pencil (medium or hard graphite is best).
A white, non abrasive, eraser (Pentel makes these).
A Kistka wax pen, either electric or manual (candle heated), and beeswax strips.
A section of measuring tape for mapping the egg design.
A toothbrush, for removing surface.
An egg blower (Blas-fix is shown).
Not shown: White vinegar, naphtha (for removing the wax), Kleenex. And a clean brown chicken egg. Leave the insides in the egg for weight – you will empty it later.
Step 1: Lightly, with pencil, draw lines dividing the egg in eight sections. Vertically (top to bottom) in quarters, and then horizontally around the middle. This will help to keep your design organized and centered. Make more divisions as desired. Lightly sketch in your design.
Step 2: With your kistka (wax pen), fill in the design. You will be waxing over the parts that you want to remain the brown color of the eggshell. The negative (non waxed) space will be very light, almost white when you are finished etching.
Step 3: When the design is completely waxed in, set the egg in a jar of white vinegar. Assure that the egg is submerged completely in the vinegar.
Note: Bubbles will form on the surface of the egg because of the reaction of calcium to vinegar. These bubbles will float the egg like a life jacket. You’ll want to spoon the egg out a few times during the etching process so the bubbles can disintegrate and allow the egg to sink to the bottom again.
Step 4: The egg should take anywhere from 15-30 minutes for the brown surface to dissolve. Remove the egg and brush the surface lightly with the toothbrush to remove the residue. Sometimes, the bubbles that have formed will prevent the etching and you will have a spotted surface. You may re-submerge the egg in the vinegar if you want to remove more surface.
Step 5: Now, you can remove the wax. Lower the egg into a glass jar of naphtha, and let it work for about 5-10 minutes. Spoon the egg out carefully and grasp it with a Kleenex. The egg will be very slippery, so support it with the spoon until you have a good hold on it. Wipe the surface with the Kleenex, rolling it around in the palm of your hand, until the wax is removed. Give it a second dunk, and wipe with a clean Kleenex to remove any residual wax.
Note: I use naphtha (available at hardware stores) because it works quickly. But it is harsh on your hands. And extremely flammable. You may also remove the wax by heating it with a candle and melting off the wax. Be careful not to cook the egg inside, or you will never get it emptied.
The egg is now ready to empty and varnish.
You can also dye an etched egg. See the results of this Koi egg design with color.
Here is a book available at Amazon, which includes a chapter on Vinegar Etched Eggs:
Artful Eggs: Six Dozen Extraordinary Ways to Decorate an Egg
- Not The Same Old Egg Display
- Egg Art: Experimenting With Mistakes