Pyrography Ventilation Chamber
by Ed and Darienne McAuley, Singing Dog Studios

Ed does the burning on the gourds. For one of his regular pyrographic techniques he keeps the the burning tip glowing red-hot. The resulting deep textured burning mirrors the chiseled and gouged first nations' petroglyphs, those myriad figures and symbols cut by ancient North American tribes on rock. Here, close to where we live in central Ontario, Canada, is one of the largest single locations of native petroglyphs in all of North America. Living so near to the "Petroglyphs", as they are called locally, has greatly influenced our gourd art. In addition, part of Ed's heritage is Algonkian, on his Mother's side.

One day, after burning for a few hours, Ed realized that that the heavy burning that he does for the petroglyph gourds was generating a lot of smoke - a delicious smell is it not? - and his lungs were beginning to pay a price. The combination of the heat, smoke and fumes was beginning to be a serious problem. It was then that he devised his HANDY DANDY BURNING CHAMBER, built quickly and at minimal cost.

He built a wooden box, open at the front - 3 sides and a top (Width 24". Height 15", Depth 15")- which sits on a small table in our studio. Over a 4" hole cut in the top of the box, he installed a bathroom exhaust fan and to that connected one end of a flexible 4" dryer hose. The other end of that hose is connected to an aluminum collar fitted through a piece of 1 1/2" rigid insulating foam. This foam is cut to fit exactly in a convenient window opening and the whole unit as described (which is quite portable) does an effective job of drawing the smoke outdoors.

All materials for the unit are readily available at a reasonable cost from any building supply store. An additional safety feature. The exhaust fan is plugged into a power bar into which the burning unit is also plugged. Thus, when the fan is turned off by the switch in the power bar, the ENTIRE unit is OFF. Including the wood burner. The beauty of this is that because the fan makes a considerable amount of noise, you are not likely to go away and leave it on - one hopes. Thus if the fan is off, you cannot not go away and leave the wood-burning unit on - which makes no noise - but could be dangerous left on indefinitely - not to mention that the unit could burn out.