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Acts 5:17-32

The talk

This giant Easter egg - about 8 feet tall - was made to illustrate an Easter Sunday talk given by Chris Green, our vicar at St James' Muswell Hill. You can hear the talk on the St James' web site.

Briefly, the egg - which reminded us of Jesus' resurrection that first Easter Sunday - contained a Christmas tree, and the tree reminded us that Jesus was born as a man (at Christmas) and that he was hung on a tree (on Good Friday).

Now just wait a minute, you say, Jesus was hung on a cross! And that is true. But, to the people of his day, crucifixion was especially terrible because it reminded them of Deuteronomy 21:22-23.

And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. (English Standard Version)

Hanging on a cross was much the same as hanging on a tree, and it showed that the person being hanged was cursed by God. It was worse than other forms of execution, because it was not only a punishment that cut short this life - it also showed that, for the criminal, there was no life to come.

Jesus, on the cross, was taking on God's curse for us. He was bearing the ultimate punishment as a sacrifice to take away our sin. He descended to hell. Because of Jesus' perfect life, God was satisfied with his sacrifice, and so God the Father raised his Son from the dead.

You don't want to do it like that

A few years ago, Harry Enfield had a character whose catch phrase was "you don't want to do it like that." So if someone was going to drive up the M6 to Birmingham, or decorate their living room, or propose to their girlfriend, this character would pop up and tell them "you don't want to do it like that."

Well, I could have used his advice when I made a giant Easter egg.

The better way

This is the right way to make a giant Easter egg. It is not what I did.

You need materials:

  • 2 sheets of MDF each 2440 x 1220 x 6mm thick
  • 30 bits of wood 44 x 22 x 40mm long
  • 2 bits of wood 44 x 22 x 885mm long
  • 4 bits of wood 44 x 44 x 200mm long
  • 2 bits of wood 44 x 44 x 450mm long
  • 3 hinges
  • Lots of screws
  • Some long elastic bands
  • Chicken wire - best to use a type with a fairly small mesh
  • Aluminium foil
  • Cellophane wrap - the very thin stuff is best

and tools:

  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Electric screwdriver
  • Staple gun
  • Wire cutters
  • One handed clamps like this:
    clamp

And this is what you do:

  • Using a jigsaw, cut out seven rings from one sheet of MDF. I have drawn them to scale, with dimensions and everything, in this pdf. This will leave you with a spare ring and two spare circles of MDF, and the nagging feeling that you should be able to do something with them.
  • Cut the rings in half. Cut rings 1 and 2 again, to form 60° and a 120° sections.
  • Also using the jigsaw, cut out eight ribs from the other sheet of MDF. Again the pdf has a scale drawing showing dimensions. Type A and type B ribs have 'feet' on the bottom to stop the egg falling over. So that you don't need to buy another sheet of MDF, I've shown three of the feet cut out separately from their ribs.
  • Fix the feet to the ribs using screws.
  • Cut small slots in the rings and the ribs so that you can slot them together (see diagram). In theory these slots should be 6mm wide and 25mm long, to give 50mm overlap. In practice your measurements will be out somewhere and you'll need to make some of the slots a bit longer to get things to fit. Slots only work away from the ends of the bits of ring - in the other places you need bits of wood to join the sections of MDF together.
  • Fix the 40mm long pieces of wood to the ribs. They are needed on the type A and C ribs on either side of the join, and on both sides of the feet of the type B ribs. Hold them in place with your one-handed clamps while you drill pilot holes and put the screws in.
  • Cut notches 44mm x 13mm at the ends of the 200mm and 450mm long pieces of wood and fix the 850mm pieces of wood in the notches. Then fix them to the type A ribs, as shown on the elevation drawing. Once the hinges are attached you want this all to sit flat - like in this plan view:

hinge

  • Assemble all the ribs and rings. It helps to have someone else to hold things while you do this. Lay the front and back (type C and type A) ribs on the floor and fix the rings so they stand vertically. Then lift the 60° and 120° (type B and type C) ribs into place from inside the rings.
  • If the slot joints are a bit loose, put a screw in the back of the rib and pass a long elastic band from the screw, round the front of the ring and back to the screw.
  • The hinges go on the ends of the longer pieces of wood and connect the two halves of the egg together.
  • Fix the two type D parts to the top of the front and back ribs, in order to round off the top of the egg.
  • Put a screw in the front ribs and hold the egg shut with an elastic band.

At this point it looks brilliant. Nothing like an egg, it's true, but brilliant to look at. Amuse yourself by opening and closing it, taking photos, and showing it to friends and relations.

After a while you will need to take it apart because it is taking up too much room in the kitchen or garage, or because you need to get it out of the garden and into the house and it won't go through the door. And it won't go in your VW Beetle:
VW Beetle
unless you take it apart. (The egg, that is, not the VW Beetle.)

  • Take all the bits to church and put them together again. Then cover the frame with chicken wire, stapling the wire onto the side of the rings. Wear work gloves so you don't scratch yourself, and make sure that there are no stray bits of wire pointing outwards where they could injure people.
  • Start at the front, where the join in the egg is. You will need several widths of chicken wire, and you'll need to make them narrower at the top and the bottom so you don't have too many layers overlapping.
  • Push and pull the chicken wire to get a nice curved egg shape. Spend a bit of time on this - the smoother the curves, the better the egg will look.
  • Cover the chicken wire with aluminium foil. Fix in place with sellotape.
  • Then cover the aluminium foil with cellophane. Take a piece of cellophane across the join (to hide it) and fix it loosely on the other side.

Obviously it's much easier if you don't need it to open. I'll leave you to work out the details of a non-opening egg.

It's also possible to recycle some of the pieces and make a giant Christingle, should you so wish.

Where I went wrong

With hindsight, I can see that I made several mistakes:

  • I made too few ribs, and so the frame was a bit wobbly.
  • There were 'feet' only on the back ribs, where the hinge was. This made the two halves fall away from each other when the egg was opened (you can see this in the last photo).
  • 3mm MDF was too bendy, and too thin to take staples.
  • I covered it with card instead of chicken wire, so the egg wasn't properly curved, and I couldn't make a curved top.
  • And because I was using card, I made the rings 12-sided, instead of round - again making the egg not properly curved.
  • The card was fixed to the MDF using duck tape, which I thought was the stickiest tape known to man, but it didn't stick to MDF.
  • The front piece of card was chocolate brown and cut in a random zigzag, 'so that it looked like a broken chocolate egg' when it was opened. No it didn't.

All in all, you don't want to do it like that.

Easter egg 3D view
3D view of the frame, before fixing the covering.

 

Easter egg rings Easter egg ribs
Rings and ribs, and how they are cut from two sheets of MDF. There are 1:10 scale drawings with dimensions on the pdf.

Easter egg elevation Easter egg joint
Elevation drawing, and slot-type joint. Where the end of a ring section meets a rib you need to screw a piece of wood to the rib, and then screw the ring to the wood. The bits of wood are those small dark rectangles on the elevation.

Easter egg frame
The Easter egg frame, in our kitchen.
Those rings should be circular. And there should be more ribs (vertical bits). And the MDF should be thicker.

 

Frame with one cardboard face
Starting to be covered - one cardboard face.
No no no no no. Use chicken wire.

half covered...
Here it is, at St James, half covered in cellophane, and with 'highly realistic broken chocolate edges'. (not)

Covered in cellophane
Now it's completely covered. There is aluminium foil under the cellophane.
It should really have a rounded top - whoever heard of a flat topped egg?

open, with Xmas tree
And finally, open to reveal... a Christmas tree.
Notice how the two halves have fallen over sideways because the ribs do not have stabilising feet.

 

Desert island church by John Parker. Contact me via the about page. Text and images copyright © 2016 John Parker www.desertislandchurch.co.uk.