When you think of dyeing Easter eggs -- should you think of dyeing Easter eggs -- you probably think of little bowls filled with food coloring, and/or those cartoon-driven kits with the packets of dye and the bendable metal dipper.
If so: You probably have not yet met the Eggbot, a robot that, as its name suggests, can robotically draw on spherical or ellipsoidal objects. The robot uses a motorized machine, connected to drawing software, to break up decorating motions into discrete steps. It can draw on anything from a ping-pong ball to a grapefruit ("not just eggs but golf balls, light bulbs, mini pumpkins, and even things like wine glasses" -- basically, anything curved and therefore supremely difficult to decorate). All this leads to objects that look like this:
Pretty nice. On the one hand, the Eggbot is just another random gadget among many -- and one of interest exclusively to the kind of passionate hobbyists who'd be willing to shell out $195 for a robot with one very specific purpose. But eggs, with their so-hard-to-draw-on surfaces, have also always presented a particular challenge when it comes to, you know, craft. Decorating an egg well has represented a kind of mastery -- over physics, over curve, over lines that refuse to lay straight. In that sense, the Eggbot is a cheeky little successor to the sewing machine and the typewriter and the camera: Its products straddle the line between art and mechanical production.
And in a world that values the handmade and the Etsyesque -- a world in which a human touch can be an object's primary selling point -- a robot that specializes in decorating can actually be a matter of some anxiety.
"Is this cheating?" asks the Eggbot's FAQ, earnestly, anticipatorily.
Only if you are trying to pass off your eggbot art as something else, like handmade pysanky. This is a completely different way of decorating eggs, and certainly shouldn't be considered "cheating." A healthier attitude is to think of this as one more tool in the egg decorator's arsenal.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.