QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA – Mary Elizabeth Alejo-Aytin wasn’t schooled in painting but her love for this art form manifests in the least likely mediums such as eggs and bottles.
Fresh out of her part-time job as an NGO worker, Mary found herself struggling to make ends meet for herself and her child. A random stroll along Cubao where she crossed paths with an egg painter would later poke her artistic and entrepreneurial spirit as she learned the ropes around Egg art.
She soon started EmEGGenarium in 2009, to which she would put into practice that skill. Unlike a regular painting canvas, painting on egg shells required precision which for Mary, a self-taught artist, was the hardest to master.
“Perfecting an egg art requires the lightness of the hands, stillness of the mind, and most importantly, patience,” shared Mary who added her obscure choice of entrepreneurial product has a shot in the mainstream for its vulnerable appeal.
“Unlike European egg art, this is purely hand-painted. People would frequently see wooden egg art but you’ll rarely find ones made using real egg shells because some artists don’t like the risk factor,” said Mary.
Apart from the gentleness required in extracting the insides of the eggs, lacquering it to achieve a flawless shine takes innumerable times to perfect. Mary however finds peace in between the technicalities egg art.
Her paintings are mostly inspired by anything that has to do with Old Philippines; Filipiñana clothes to pre-colonial mythology creatures and animals. Mary sees the beauty in things unique to Filipinos but often forgotten.
“What’s prevalent now among Filipinos is how some of us rationalize the bad to make it look good. As disappointing as this is, I want the positive and beautiful to radiate in my work and as much as possible do away with the grim,” said Mary adding she finds it therapeutic but that it’s also not for everybody.
“During the toughest time of my life, this helped me heal. Much as I want to share the skill to others who seek healing, I’m afraid not everyone can maintain the patience,” said Mary.
Apart from egg shells, Mary also paints on recycled bottles which she asks from friends. Though she finds beauty in the most common of things, Mary said it’s challenging to defend art found in obscure mediums.
“Much as I want everyone to embrace artisan works, most people aren’t ready yet. It shows in how they express indifference for its worth and this reflects their lack of value for local artisanship,” said Mary which is why she only joins bazaars who seek to promote local products.
Mary sells her egg art in bazaars beginning at P350 a piece. The price can go higher depending on the design and since she also has different rates for custom works.
Now a full time mother and entrepreneurial artist, Mary continues to perfect her craft. She hopes in time, obscure and artisan artworks will no longer just be for collectors and art enthusiasts.
“In time, Filipinos will learn to judge a product by the quality. There is a level of appreciation now but I hope it flourishes even more,” Mary concluded.
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