As 2014 came to an end and we rang in the new year I remembered a tradition that my college roommates and I used to do which was write down all of the things that we had done in the past year that we NEVER wanted to repeat.
We would then light a big bonfire and ceremoniously throw our offerings in and watch the sparks rise into the sky and with their disappearance cast off all that we didn’t want to re-visit.
It didn’t always work, and of course you would sometimes find yourself back in the same situation that you thought that you had burnt and cast off forever but sometimes it was enough of a moment that you could indeed let a bad moment go.
As we all know fire is a powerful and sometimes violent force, which can yield its power in opposing ways. It can be a positive cathartic release or it can be an instrument of destruction. You need look no further than the annual Burning Man event as an example of the power of “the burn”.
Burning Man is a week-long annual event that began in San Francisco’s Baker Beach in 1986 and migrated to the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada. The event begins on the last Monday in August, and ends on the first Monday in September. Over 65,000 people attended the event in 2014, forming what is known as Black Rock City.
Burning Man gets its name from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy in the form of a man, which is set alight on Saturday evening.
I haven’t been myself but I’ve heard that it is an amazing event that everyone should experience at least once. I’ve heard it described as the largest performance art event that you’ll ever attend. I have a soft spot for performance art and for built artistic environments. No surprise here, especially given my chosen profession, that I would like to attend this sometime soon.
With all of this talk on the burning of wood I would be remiss to not share about Shou Sugi Ban. In case you haven’t heard of it, Shou sugi ban is a Japanese tradition of burning wood siding that dates back thousands of years. This method was done because the Japanese discovered that a heavily charred board used for siding was much more resistant to rot and insects, as well as far less likely to ignite when exposed to sparks or flames. The shou sugi ban method was vital in reducing fires but is now primarily used for its aesthetics and better performance in exterior applications.
There are few companies like resawn timber co. that are specializing in this type of wood.
or Delta Mill Works who have a large collection of interior and exterior cladding
I think when its used in the right application, it can add an unusual textural quality to a project.
For a quick tutorial on how to make your own shou sugi ban siding check out this video tutorial.
I’m excited to try this since I already have my propane torch from another wood experiment I did a few years back. I’ll have to blog about that one another time.
Let me know if you give it a go and how your burnt offering turned out.
Images courtesy of resawntimberco.com, http://www.assets.nydailynews.com, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woOHbbaj6fM, http://www.oliverfluck.com, http://www.parlez-vousphotography.quietplacetolive.com, http://www.resawntimberco.com/shou-sugi-ban.html, http://www.deltamillworks.com, http://www.gardenista.com
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