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The Art of Wood-burning

Jul. 9, 2008
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Milwaukee native Vince Gallo grew up on the East Side, where he graduated from Shorewood High School.Now semi-retired and recuperating from surgery, this self-taught artist focuses on what has been his hobby for 25 years: wood-burning. Gallo says he envisions teaching wood-burning at an educational center, especially to youth, so that others might discover the enjoyment of this unusual art medium.

How did you discover wood-burning?
A friend of mine at the time practiced wood-burning and I asked to learn from him. After a while he said I went beyond what he knew, and I just kept going and taught myself. I’ve been wood-burning now for over 25 years and I know there are not too many people working in this art form anymore.

What do you most enjoy about it?
Wood-burning is so relaxing to sit and do, and you need very little space, and it is relatively inexpensive. You just need the woodand a set of tools called Detail Master… I have the Excalibur model that has dual wood-burning pens.

How do you do it?
I find or take a picture I like and enjoy and white-out all the black space, and then I run it through a copier. Using a special tool with a rounded end, I rub the picture, which is the lines, onto the piece of wood. Afterward I begin burning the wood on the many lines, often over and over, to create special details. Burning the details requires about 12 to 14 hours for a small picture. And I once was asked to do wood-burning on a friend’s table for his lake cottage, which worked out well.

What type of wood is best to use?
The best kind of wood is pine, but bass wood has a very tight grain that is good to work on. This wood is good for when you first begin to practice, as it doesn’t stop your tool, your pen, from moving on the wood.

What would you say to persuade some one to try wood-burning?
The art of wood-burning is really very relaxing, and when a picture catches my eye, I’m able to do something different with it—change it. You can experiment with the art and use your creativity. And for me, I am more interested in teaching people this art medium to leave the legacy behind.

To contact Vince Gallo, write: vpg11199@hotmail.com.

Vince Gallo | Photo by Don Rask


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