Not many people can say they write with fire. Artist Alexandra Bowers jokes that when she says she’s a pyrographer, people think she builds campfires for a living. In practice, pyrography is an art form that involves delicately burning designs into wood.
Bowers, 28, has been wood burning for nearly a decade, but at one time, this fiery technique was a mystery to her, too. She first learned about it during a supplies run to Home Depot for her studio art classes at Arizona State University. “Home Depot is like my Target,” she says with a laugh. Bowers says the smells of chemicals and lumber signal the promise of artistic possibilities. During that fateful Home Depot run, an employee mentioned pyrography as another use for soldering tools. She gave it a try and has been hooked ever since.
Her technique begins with a detailed pencil drawing, which she burns into wood using a hot, pointed iron. Left behind is the burned impression of the illustration, ready for the graphite to be sanded away. Bowers likes each piece to have a “quiet presence.”
Her work centers on flora and fauna, and often features desert specimens she collects as inspiration, like the wispy dandelions she illustrates on large wood panels, or the delicate yucca seed pods she burns into serving spoons. “The desert was my playground,” she says. “Growing up in this really interesting environment has stayed with me my whole life.” Bowers hopes her work inspires others to reconnect with nature as the city expands.
View Bowers’ portfolio at alexandrabowersart.com and her online shop of wood kitchenware at ironroot.co.
— Isabella Castillo