Joseph and Victoria

Joseph and Victoria – Memorial

About Joseph and Victoria – Memorial…

Joseph contacted me about helping him create a memorial to his beautiful, young wife, Victoria, who had passed away from cancer. Their wedding anniversary was approaching and he wanted to do something special to commemorate their love.

I was so honored to be the person he reached out to for designing this very special piece.

He wanted to choose and provide his own piece of wood….which happens frequently with my clients…but since he hadn’t purchased it yet when he contacted me I had no idea what kind of wood I was going to be working on. This can be tricky sometimes because pyrography performs better and produces different results on some kind of woods than it does on others.

For instance…a burned design almost always looks better on a lighter wood than on a darker wood. Just because the resulting image or lettering will show up more dramatically when there is a sharper contrast for the burn to stand out against.

This isn’t always true…sometimes a darker wood can offer a really elegant look. But it really depends on what you’re going for. In that case I would only want to create a 100% burned symbol or lettering. But not a photo reproduction.

Other factors to consider when selecting a piece of wood are the hardness of the piece and whether it has been dried sufficiently and is no longer green/freshly cut. Kiln-dried is usually best. And harder woods don’t take a burn so easily. I have to turn the temperature on my burning tool  up to a much hotter degree and even then it takes a lot longer to get the depth of burn to take. So, the cost of the piece will likely be much more expensive simply because it takes so much longer to burn. On the flip side of that, if the wood is too soft then many times it will produce too much char or leave a smoke-residue on the surface…in addition to producing a lot more smoke in the air, as well. So, knowing what kind of wood to choose is really a major consideration when selecting an appropriate piece to burn.

That being said…when Joseph talked to me about this project I wasn’t aware that he planned to purchase this huge live-edge slab from a local vendor at Portland’s Saturday Market.

  • And it was really, REALLY the wrong kind of wood in almost every respect;
    • It was a very hard wood…so, didn’t take the burn well, in the first place. The lettering was fine but it was a very poor choice for the photo reproduction.
    • It had a burled surface which mottled the image…meaning that all of the variation between dark and light in the wood itself made the image look terrible. As a result I had to get Joseph’s approval to add color so that the image would stand out from the surface of the wood.
    • Additionally, and I found this truly ironic, considering the subject matter, the wood “weeped” as I was applying heat to burn it. What I mean is that when applying the burning pen the wood would ooze sap that would liquify when the heat was applied. This made it incredibly difficult and challenging to get both the burn and the color to adhere well.
    • On top of everything else wrong with this project, the wood slab was HUGE! Much too big to comfortably work on in my home office/workshop. It was so heavy and bulky that it made it hard to move from one place to another during the creation process.
    • Last, but certainly not least, the wood wasn’t professionally treated prior to the project, so tiny little spiders would crawl out from the “live” crevices around the edges of the wood and this was pretty creepy!

In the end, my client was very happy with the way the piece turned out, despite all the difficulties.

His intention was to add a glass topper to protect the surface and then turn it into a coffee table.

I haven’t seen it installed…but this would certainly make an impressive focal piece of furniture in a living room. And it’s such a wonderful and touching memorial to their love and relationship.

Leave a Reply