Sun, Jun 24, 2018 - Page 11 News List

World Cup: Artist makes mascots from eggshells


Retired English teacher Nguyen Thanh Tam displays various World Cup mascots made out of eggshells on Wednesday at his home in Ho Chi Minh City.

Photo: AFP

World Cup swag has taken a quirky turn in Vietnam, where a retired schoolteacher is making mascot memorabilia from hollowed-out eggs, meticulously crafted by hand.

Nguyen Thanh Tam, 67, spends hours every day making the models, driven by his soccer fanaticism — a passion shared by millions across Vietnam glued to the World Cup.

Most of his tiny statues are of tournament mascot Zabivaka, a wolf in sports goggles kicking a ball, and he has models of heroes Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the works.

“Over the past few years, I have been spending my time making soccer mascots with eggshells as a way for me to show my love for soccer,” Tam said, speaking before a basket of eggs in his Ho Chi Minh City home.

Although not widespread in Vietnam, using eggshells in art is not unheard of: Traditional lacquer works often feature inlaid eggshell in lieu of white paint.

Working with the fragile shells requires sharp focus, Tam said.

“I love this work because it requires me to be creative, observant, meticulous and relaxed,” he added.

He first explored the hobby around Christmas in 2002, when he was looking for the right material to make a Santa statue with his 13-year-old students.

Tam decided that an eggshell perfectly captured Saint Nick’s rotund belly.

He eventually married his passion for crafts and soccer, and started making World Cup mascots during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Now he has about 1,000 of the small figurines scattered throughout his apartment, some commemorating the 2016 Rio Olympics and Euro 2016 in France.

Others are of celebrities — Charlie Chaplin, Barack Obama and PSY all feature — or birds and animals.

Tam said the biggest challenge is finding the right egg shape to fit the creation, so he has expanded beyond chicken eggs to include ostrich and quail.

He has also widened his repertoire of egg recipes to use up all the yolks and whites he discards to make his art.

Tam does not sell the delicate dolls, preferring instead to keep them on display to wow his visitors.

“I make eggshell art to satisfy my passion, not for commercial purposes,” he said.

He has already received a nod from Vietnam’s record center for the most eggshell art created, although he has global ambitions.

“I hope one day my eggshell art will be recognized as a world record,” he said.

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