Monday, June 7, 2010

Meet Claire Ludovico of Humpty Dumpty!

I'm very proud to introduce Claire Ludovico of Humpty Dumpty and her husband, merchants in our Reclaimed to Fame Market. Claire creates the most gorgeous wearable and functional art from emu and ostrich eggs. Included in her shop are eggshell barrettes, curio boxes, jewelry, nightlights and lamps. I'll let Claire take over to tell you her story.

"For all our Renaissance Faire friends and for those who have just found us here, we create wearable and functional art from ostrich and emu eggshells. Claire has been carving eggshells since 1996. The shell is durable: the ostrich chick takes three days to break out of the shell, and is about the size of a full grown chicken at hatching. Sometimes after-hatch shells are used; other times the shells of infertile eggs are upcycled. Emu eggshell, while not as thick as ostrich has more interesting colors: dark green outside with blue to blue-green underlayers and white interiors. In the creation of jewelry, emu shell is usually backed with ostrich shell for strength. The ostrich shell is also translucent and therefore allows lampshades to be made from it. Emu is opaque until the (very thin) white layer is exposed.

"Most of the products I have included in the Reclaimed to Fame Market are made exclusively of ostrich eggshell. Ostriches, according to reports I have had from various ostrich ranchers, have a 20% to 30% infertility rate. Unfortunately, the egg within the shell, by the time it is discovered to be non-fertile, has been in an incubator for two weeks or so. No one would want to eat it...except, of course, coyotes (who may be the major consumers here in Arizona when the egg stuff is "placed" in the desert.) The shell is left to be used in whatever fashion one's imagination can create...or to be tossed. I am approached regularly by people who have ostriches or emus and don't know what to do with their blown eggs. I'm happy to make suggestions for up-cycling the shells.

"Anyone who has visited with me at one of my Renaissance Faire shops usually seeks an answer to the question,"How did you get into doing this?" The answer is a little long. In 1995 my husband and I moved to Arizona to raise emus at his sister's request. We were to start up the ranch and when things were rolling she and her husband would take over. This would be their retirement plan...a plan hatched when friends told them that raising emus was soooo easy, all one had to do was feed the birds and pick up the eggs. Naturally, this was not exactly the case. We agreed to try it for a few years.

Not knowing anything about emus, we joined an Emu-Ostrich Association so that if problems arose, we would have access to people who knew what they were doing. The Association was responsible for Ostrich Alley at the Chandler Ostrich Festival. In an effort to educate the public, the Association went to the Ostrich Festival and the Arizona State Fair and distributed literature about both birds. The first Ostrich Festival that we attended was in March of 1996. There we met other ranching family which has remained our friends over the years. The then teenage son in this family created earrings out of chips of emu eggshell with a post and a few emu feathers glued on the back. He sold them very cheaply. A few weeks later we had an Association meeting at the ranch of another of the members. Because they had jeep tours through their property to see all the different kinds of wildlife that they were raising, they also had a gift shop. Unfortunately, the least expensive item in the shop was $75. We thought they should hook up with the teenager who could make make them some slightly more elegant earrings, etc. However, he was busy in school and playing football. When we were at the ranch again a few weeks later and noted the continuing lack of an inexpensive memento for the jeep tourists, we returned home and noted to ourselves that we had eggs (emu, of course). Perhaps we could do something with those eggs!"

And the rest is history! Stop by Claire's shop and read more about Humpty Dumpty's work and beautiful recycled products. We're very proud to have Humpty Dumpty in our Reclaimed to Fame Market.

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