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Elysa Joelle Wade

Photo by Joelle Wade


Growing up in a small house in the forests of Hanover, outside of Richmond, Virginia, I fell in love with the outdoors very early in life. The freedom of the woods, running through the thickets and fields, smelling the rich scents of the earth and trees. Pyrography taps into that love of nature. Every slice of wood on its own tells a story that wants to be read, thus each burn created tells a frame story that lives simultaneously in a state of symbiosis with the wood that becomes its home. With wood, not just any picture goes onto just any slice or slab. The shape, size, flow of the rings, type of tree the cut is from, and how it was cut, all matter when seeking the perfect image to live in harmony with the wood. It's therefore essential that I shape the art into the wood with soulful, tedious accuracy. Each ounce of pressure applied by the burner onto the surface of the wood matters in depicting the perfect level of shading. Each second spent burning a line is timed just right for a precise production. 

     Pyrography is the art or technique of decorating wood or leather by burning a design on the surface with a heated metallic point. During the Victorian Era, the invention of the pyrography machine sparked a widespread interest in the craft. The craft itself dates back as far as the 17th century, when it was called "pokerwork". For the last half decade, I have been practicing this art form and it has captured me entirely. I've become absorbed in the smell of the burn, and the feel of the textures created on the soft natural surface, that bring me a sense of nostalgia for the days as a child in the forest. producing intricate details, bringing such figures as snow, water, clouds, animals, and people to life on a length of pine, cedar, oak or cherry tree, is nothing short of invigorating.