VietNamNet Bridge – Inspired by an enthusiasm to find illustrations for students’ English lessons, Nguyen Thanh Tam shot to fame after the Vietnam Record Book Center recognized him as the citizen with the most sculpture works made of eggshells.
His passion for eggshells came by chance after Tam was trying other materials such as ceramics, cardboard and foam rubber to make sculptures and finally he found eggshells to be the best material. Since 2002 he has been absorbed in researching models and rummaging eggshells of ostriches, ducks, geese, chicken, birds and tortoises. Tam now owns more than 500 sculpture works in varied sizes, diverse themes and colors.
His figures feature famous people such as U.S. President Barack Obama, Australian inspirational speaker Nick Vujicic, national historic generals as well as many animation icons, sports mascots of SEA Games, the World Cup and Olympics and 12 sets of 12 animal designs.
His apartment is like a mini world of egg-shell animals from mice, ants, buffaloes, tigers, elephants, cats, dogs and chicken together with many well-known fictional characters like Panda bear, angry birds from the popular game, Kitty, Santa Claus, Smurfs, Mickey, Nemo fish, Dalmatians penguins Memphis and Norma Jean. They seem to come to life when Tam arranges them into a battle to fight or play together on fields and on swings.
He has General Dinh Bo Linh together with his subordinates or Barack Obama giving a speech on the platform, Santa Claus carrying Christmas gift bags and little boys playing on swings with horses, or lion dance shows with lions and artists and dancers.
“The important thing is not only to model the works but also give the animals some soul so visitors can know the name or type of artworks when they see them,” said Tam, adding that each character has its own feature that he needs to recognize and make it striking on works. Every sculpture of Tam is related to contemporary events, historical documents, traditional festivals and sports tournaments. Currently, Tam is making horses for the upcoming Year of the Horse. “I prefer to make sports mascots than others as to me health is the most important thing in human life to make our dreams come true and to live a meaningful life,” said Tam. He also added that each of his works is a story to be told to visitors.
From 1975 to 1990, Tam was an English teacher at Marie Curie before working for some companies. Now he teaches at home. “To me, education is the most crucial mission for youngsters so my sculptures also have educational meanings,” he added. That is the reason why Tam sometimes writes some sayings on the works to teach his students.
With his skillful hands, eggshells, foam, bamboo toothpicks, gold and silver lamé and colored nail polish, Tam works hard to do something different. “I am not much talented, this job just requires makers to have a deep passion, to be patient, meticulous and dexterous,” said Tam who makes no financial benefit from this hobby but “When I finish one work, I look at it and I just want to shout out my joy. It helps me relax, have fun and keep my life balanced and so I’m happy with this thing.”
He also hopes this genre of art will be promoted widely in the country so people of all ages can show their passion for handmade arts, their talents and love for their loved ones via eggshell-made gifts.
Nguyen Thanh Tam’s home is at Nguyen Van Luong 2 Apartment, 110 Thong Nhat Street in Go Vap District.