By Grace Usher
There may not be anything as egg-stra special as Virgi Bondi’s hobby. She is a one-of-a-kind egg shell artist. She is the owner and sole-designer for her company Eggstra Special and it is unique in every context.
Bondi was living in Japan from 1984-1989, teaching English. Though she was fluent in Japanese, she found that the best way to teach English as a second language to both students and their parents was through arts and crafts.
It was a springtime in April when the traditional American holiday of Easter was being celebrated. She and a group of other female teachers decided to combine the tradition of coloring eggs with the craft of paper-mache with Japanese Washi paper. Instead of coloring eggs with dye, they used the paper to cover the shells.
When Bondi returned to the states in 1989, she hosted a vendor booth at a Japanese festival selling her Washi eggs. She completely sold out of her stock.
In December 1999, she was published in Sunset Magazine for her work. She had developed her craft so well, she began to make a living solely from her art.
“I started the business so I could raise my own children. I was a single mom. So my kids went with me on weekends, I took them to and from school. I had a business that was flexible to raise my own kids. Everything I have is from egg shells”
Bondi creates unique pieces with more than 10 different types of eggs including: finch, rhea, emu, swan, quail, parakeet, cockatiel, tinamou, chicken, duck, goose and ostrich; Her egg of choice is that of a goose.
She begins her process by receiving blank egg shells. She travels to the farms where she buys the shells to teach them how to properly remove the infertile contents of the eggs without damaging the shell. The contents are reused then for feeding the other animals.
Bondi purchases nearly 15,000 shells every other year.
When she receives the clean, blank shells, she plans her designs on each individual egg by hand drawing the spherical outline making sure each line is even and symmetrical. There is no place for crooked eggs.
She covers the hole left from the draining process with the topper that an ornament will hang from or with a toy for the top of a sculpture.
Once she has established her design, she then carves the shells with a high-speed dentist drill. The low impact carving mechanism leaves clean lines and precise cuts for her intricate designs.
She creates a toughened shield for the shell with layers of lacquer created from either a two-part epoxy and/or envirotex for extra shine. She then decorates each piece uniquely with paint, Swarovski crystals, rhinestones, glitter and designer greenery. Any toys she puts in her sculptures are licensed and trademarked by Disney.
Bondi estimates that she has created tens of thousands of pieces, each unique and one-of-a-kind. Of all of her creations, her favorite is a Ferris wheel that took more than three years to design, and is mounted on a handmade, gold-plated wheel by an artist from New York.
“I designed the eggs to all match in exact size so it rotates and spins each carriage so they stay straight like a traditional Ferris wheel.”
The Ferris wheel was not only her most time consuming but, consequently, her most expensive piece at $3,200. The second-highest valued design was a Cinderella-inspired glass coach for $1,500. Both designs were made into kits of which she has sold multiples of each.
Though each piece may seem so meticulous to the average crafter, Bondi sees it as true relaxation.
“I don’t say ‘work’, I seriously just play. It’s a hobby on steroids.”
Bondi “plays” so much in fact, she does not and has never kept track of the time it takes to complete a piece. Her methods are assembly line-like in that when one piece is drying, she moves to another.
Though her niche may seem quite secular, Bondi has had many notable customers. In the 1990s, she was creating decorative eggs with logos from the professional sports teams of baseball, football, basketball and 600 college-level teams .
In 1996, The Dodgers’ Vince Kelly purchased a Christmas tree full of Bondi’s eggs for a corporate party. Likewise, her eggs were featured at the new stadium groundbreaking ceremony for the San Francisco Giants.
In a full circle back to the roots of her creation, her designs were even purchased and featured in Japan at Tokyo Disneyland.
At the peak of her business, Bondi would travel across the United States to sell during 36 shows, primarily art and wine festivals. For the last 24 years, she has traveled with the Harvest Festival that makes its way across the Western Seaboard for a span of 2 ½ months.
Bondi was born in and lived nearly her entire life in California. When not designing eggs, she is a motorcycle enthusiast and avid traveler.
After the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001, Bondi found it to be her duty to enlist in the U.S. Navy. She was a member of the military police force for eight years; even being deployed to Iraq for a full year.
“I’m an egg making military police, biker chick.”
In 2017, Bondi was helping a close friend move to Lake Havasu City. She stayed for a week but felt it would not be her last time.
In early 2018, she was delivering pieces that would be displayed in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev., when she decided to visit Lake Havasu once again.
After stumbling upon a Realtor’s office, she was given a tour of a home that somehow seemed to perfectly fit her criteria. She put in an offer that day, and her house in California sold within 48 hours. Over a 50-day span, she could officially call herself a resident of Lake Havasu City.
Though her time in Lake Havasu has only been a few months, Virgi Bondi has not been anything less than heavily involved in her new-found community. She is a member of Allied Art Council, Havasu Art Guild, Creative Comrades and has a featured gallery in the Havasu Art Center. She has recently become a Certified Tourism Ambassador through the Chamber of Commerce.
Her studio is in the top level of her RV garage in her home, but at first glance, you would believe you were in a designer studio.
Virgi Bondi is a dream-tale of an artist who has been able turn her passion into a career.
“I just wanted to have enough money to raise my kids and stay at home and now look at me”
If you are intrigued by the art form of egg-shell design, Eggstra Special will be featuring how-to classes at the in home studio in early December. Classes start at $20 with the Washi egg technique. Participation is welcome from those ages from 6 to 100. Participants will receive enough materials to make 10 pieces.
Follow Virgi Bondi and Eggstra Special online: