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How A Hot Tool And A Deep Crack Created Pyrographic Chaos

Updated on April 4, 2011
This could be a fire hazard
This could be a fire hazard

Dreams You Heat Yourself

There have been times when I would start to work in my art studio and before I realized it, six or eight hours had passed. These are great creative periods. I get so engulfed in my art, that I forget about the world. Occasionally I have experienced a flow, of such energy, that I work for as long as it takes to complete a project. The next thing I know, eighteen hours later, I am drained dry, crapped out, exhausted. I seem to have this pull going on inside me, can't stop until I finish it. I get in the zone. It is a very cool place to be, but on one particular night, it became chaos waiting to unfold.

My home was in a rural setting about 15 miles from town.That was a great place to work because I could stay up all night, work outside, make all kinds of noise, and I never had to worry about bothering my neighbors. I lived alone at the time so, it was not unusual for me to work 24 hours without a break. I lived on coffee and cigarettes and just did my thing. I would forget to eat. Sometimes I would fix a cup of soup or something and hours later it would still be setting there waiting for my spoon.

Instant Fire on Contact

This tool will heat to red hot
This tool will heat to red hot

Worn To A Frazzle and Ready For Bed

This one particular night I had put in just about all the energy I had. I was working on a mask and had finished all of the woodburning. The mask was ready to be painted but, I thought, not tonight. I set the mask aside and started to clean up my work area. I had been working on the kitchen table so I did not want to wake up to the mess. A good 20 hours had passed, with next to nothing to eat, just living on coffee. The mess took about 20 minutes to tidy and I was starting to feel the lack of nourishment in my stomach.

I decided that it would be wise to fix a bite to eat before I retired. I knew it would help me sleep sound, and that was the next mistake I made. The food hit me like a sleeping pill and sleep I did. It was after midnight when I shut off the lights. I had stopped working about an hour before I cut out the lights. I was quickly dozing off. I lay there thinking of all I had accomplished with my work, as I drifted off to dreamville. Sleep....

.....Dreaming that the mask had come to life.... Fire and smoke pouring from the mouth.... Bellowing smoke, too dark to see. The eyes were glowing and the mask was laughing at me. Fear raced through my body, I was shakin, no this is a dream. I am asleep. Wake up you dummy, you are having a nightmare. Wake up, wake up, I thought as I tried to force myself into consiousness.

Driftwood Stacked Everywhere

His Mouth Was Smoldering

My heart was pounding so hard when I sat up in my bed. I could feel it in my ears. Wow some dream that was. I sorta laughed at myself as I looked around in the dark letting my eyes adjust to the slight amount of light, creeping in through the windows. I figured I had put in too many hours staring at that same face. It was not the first time that my artwork had come to life in my dreams.

My heartbeat slowed back to normal as I felt the comfort of my bed ooze up around my tired self. I laughed at myself as I thought about how it was smelling pretty smoky in here. It smelled real smoky. It looked pretty smoky too. I rubbed my eyes to better see. Not seeing too good and it is sorta hard to breathe. I got out of the bed and walked toward the kitchen. The table was glowing. Is this a dream. I ran to the table. The mask was on fire. The mouth was burning, glowing, smoking. I opened the front door and flipped the mask out onto the concrete porch. Sparks flew as it hit the floor. I ran to the sink and grabbed a bowl of water. I rushed to pour the water on the mask. There was driftwood piled all around the porch walls. My heart was racing again. This time it was not a dream and there was nothing to laugh about.

Always Think About Safety

Now I think of myself as a safety minded person after that fiasco. I like life and, am in no hurry to travel to the other side, if you know what I mean! I have compiled a list of things to think about when you are working with hot tools. You can never be too careful when using a woodburner. These tools could cause severe damage to yourself as well as to your surroundings. Always think safety.

  1. Work on a fireproof work surface. Use stone, metal, concrete,etc.
  2. Have a fire extinguisher near by.
  3. Make sure you have a stable place to rest your hot pen when not in hand.
  4. Watch that electrical cords are not in burning area.
  5. Make sure there are no papers, liquids or gases in the area that could combust.
  6. Be especially careful of your hair, clothing and body parts while you are working.( I have a scar on my leg where I dropped a hot woodburner) The burning pen will eat through flesh like butter!
  8. Make sure you have adaquite ventalation.

A Metal Surface And A Stable Hot Pen Holder

Notice The Pen Tip Is Glowing HOT
Notice The Pen Tip Is Glowing HOT

A Dream Come True But What Had Taken Place?

Being overly tired the night my mask caught fire really got to me. What had taken place that fearful night? The mouth on my mask was a natural deep crack in the wood. I inserted the hot tool into the mouth so that I could blacken it all the way around. I spent quite a bit of time working on that mouth. Some of the cracks were hard to get into and I forced the tool into the crack. I did not want any light colored areas to show. I could not see down in the hole so, I did not realize the danger I was causing. Strange thing about all of it is, that mask must have been smoldering for several hours before I woke up. It was 4am when I finally did smell the fire burning...... A danger filled dream come true.


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    • profile image

      Keith 6 years ago

      I'm so glad you woke up! (even though so tired) (so scary in the middle of the night -- what's real and what's not, dream and reality!)

    • C.S.Alexis profile image

      C.S.Alexis 9 years ago from NW Indiana


      The devil was cooking in that mask is all I know! I have grown very cautious after that incident. Thanks for commenting.

    • ReuVera profile image

      ReuVera 9 years ago from USA

      Wow, what a story... a tricky mask. Was it a mask of a devil? :) Yea, you should always be careful and check everything thoroughly....