Out in the wild, electricity gives us epic thunderstorms that have inspired artists and marveled scientists. But now, two creators have found a unique way to turn the power of lightning into statement pieces for the home. Drawing from the principle of Lichtenberg figures, Nick and Kat from Wildflower Designs create intricate wood coasters, cheese boards, and, even a table decorated with river-like patterns produced by electricity.
“Lichtenberg figure, or ‘fractal burning' involves shooting between 2000 and 10000 volts of electricity through a piece of wood,” Kat tells My Modern Met. “When traveling through the wood the electricity scorches and burns out channels that we later fill with shimmery, colorful resin to create a stunning contrast.” She adds that her favorite resin color is either emerald or ‘super bronze', while Nick's favorite is blue.
Nick and Kat do everything from scratch, which sometimes includes stopping by the side of the road to pick up an interesting fallen trunk. Finishing a piece takes them a minimum of four days, a process that includes cutting, curing, burning, and adding color. “The design is uncontrollable for the most part, however, as we have been doing this for such a long time we can influence certain aspects of the pieces through pure intuition,” Kat explains. “We know which pieces of wood will produce certain burns depending on a whole host of factors including weather, humidity, and grain pattern”.
Kat describes Wildflower Designs' work as having natural and organic undertones, as it is inspired by the Scottish countryside. “When approaching the Lichtenberg figure, we were fascinated by how nature still influences the pieces' outcome despite the overwhelming power of electricity. This process is only possible due to the unique fingerprint of each piece of wood; when the electricity travels through the piece, it endeavors to find the quickest and easiest path to the sister probe, forcing the current to ‘jump' across the grain creating the ‘tree-like' patterns shown in the photographs. No two pieces will ever be the same, much like the trees they are created from.”
Ultimately, their favorite part of the process is getting a really gnarly, knotty piece of wood and observing how the burn works with or around the knots. “Adding the resin to these specific pieces looks absolutely stunning and gives a new life to wood that otherwise would be discarded,” she shares, adding that while it looks really cool, the Lichtenberg figure technique is a dangerous craft, and should not be attempted at home by non-professionals.