Carved eggs bring worldwide fame to niche artist Michelle Thompson

A Murray Bridge artist is developing an international reputation in an unusual, but ancient, art form.

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A Murray Bridge artisan is winning worldwide acclaim in a very unusual field.

Michelle Thompson first stumbled across the art of egging – creating works of art from eggshells – 30 years ago, when she was pregnant with her eldest son.

Only in the past few years, with her children grown up, has she had time to explore her passion.

But she has quickly developed a reputation for innovation in one of the world's oldest crafts.

Especially renowned in the egging community were the flower designs she said no-one else, to her knowledge, had ever created before.

“These are the ones the eggers are going to go nuts over,” she said, holding up an eggshell bouquet, arranged in a vase with a few artificial leaves.

Displayed in a cabinet in her lounge room are dozens of intricate creations, from traditional carriages and dolls to more contemporary flowers, jewellery boxes and music boxes.

The flowers were her favourite.

Her husband might not buy her any real ones, she joked, but at least she could make her own.

Ms Thompson’s work will feature in an upcoming edition of the magazine Art of the Eggshell, published in the United Kingdom and sent to enthusiasts around the world.

Most of her connections with other artists have been formed over the internet, as local practitioners are few and far between.

Sourcing eggs which have already been “blown”, or had their contents removed, could be difficult, too, she said.

But goose and quail eggs, emu and ostrich eggs – all were fair game for an artist armed with a dentist’s drill, a steady hand and a healthy dose of imagination.

Ms Thompson charges a relative pittance for her work: usually only the cost of the materials she has used, despite the hours or days she puts into each creation.

She hoped someday to set up a studio space where people could come and browse her designs or simply learn about the art form.

“I’d like people to pick it up,” she said.

“It’s a dying art, but I love it.

“If you can draw, you can carve.”

Michelle Thompson carved each of the heart-shapes in this eggshell flower using a dentist’s drill and a steady hand. Photo: Peri Strathearn.