In the cover of my Nostalgia Art Journal, I’ve incorporated some burnt book pages. Burning is an interesting way to add an aged, weathered look to art projects. I like the unpredictable results I get from burning paper.

Burning book paper for my Art Journal.

The scheduled brownouts in my hometown when I was a child gave lots of opportunities to play with a candle as a creative tool. (Not that I have pyro tendencies or anything.) Until now, I use a candle, placed near the kitchen sink, to burn paper for my projects. So far, I haven’t set off any of our smoke detectors yet – but I do warn my family when I’m doing my burning so they don’t get alarmed when they smell smoke.

Bird's Nest: An Altered Tin Can

Here’s another project where I incorporated singed art. It’s an altered tin can for a swap I’m participating in this month. For this project, I experimented with scraps of fabric. It’s fascinating to see how different types of fabric react to burning. I like how most of the fabric I used just curls up and ‘caramelizes’ under heat.

Speaking of smoke detectors, I have a funny story to tell – of course, at the time this story happened (around 8 or so years ago), it wasn’t quite funny. Here’s what happened in the words of my husband Troy …

Ahh vacation. We were in California, bunking at our Aunt and Uncle’s newly built house in the fabulous Chino Hills area. I had gotten up at the crack of noon as my lovely and talented wife was preparing to bake a fresh batch of homemade cookies. She’s a fantastic baker and wanted to surprise everyone when they returned home from work later that day. There was a constant clattering in the kitchen as Johwey rifled through drawers and cabinets trying to find the necessary utensils and supplies. Suddenly there was a loud, high pitched squeal-like beeping that was so obnoxiously shrill that I nearly gouged out my own ears. I noticed Johwey’s scramble pattern in the kitchen change up a bit, apparently she noticed the beeping too. What a God-awful sound for an oven timer I thought. Were the cookies done? Not quite.

Cousin DJ came rushing down the stairs, dripping wet and wearing nothing but a towel, screaming something about the neighbors house being on fire and all the neighbors were already outside. This is when we realized that the beeping was a fire alarm and that the fire was inside the kitchen. Thick black smoke was rolling out of the sides of the oven door as flames snuck out from the bottom and licked the front of the oven. My 3rd grade fire safety training immediately kicked in and I stopped dropped and rolled my way off the couch and into the kitchen. I slipped my hands through the fire and flames and turned the gas knob of the oven to ‘Off’. Within seconds the flames subsided, but smoke continued to roll from the lower broiler area of the oven. Johwey came running with some oven mitts and opened the broiler, pulling out the smoldering mass of blackness. “You broiled the cookies!?!?”, I thought.

“Oh DAAAYYYYYUMMMMMMM!”, DJ exclaimed in his best LA Club Kid voice, which was how he sounded anyway at the time. “My mom keeps all of the kitchen towels in the oven, you didn’t take them out??”

In a kitchen with dozens of cabinets, the towels were stored in the broiler pan. Needless to say, Johwey never finished her cookies, and we spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning the smoke stains off the never-before-used oven.