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Dynamic Drawing by artist Martin Butler

Home Made Charcoal

One of the most versatile drawing materials for the artist is charcoal. After many experiments with different woods, I have finally come up with the best charcoal for drawing. The wood to use is willow, ideally pencil willow, which grows in long straight stems--use the fresh new shoots.

Cut off lengths between 1-2cm thickness-peel off all bark and leaves etc.-cut into lengths of between 8-10cm depending on size of containers.

Slim square tins are best, such as-pencil boxes or tobacco tins, with nail holes in the lid,and lengths of thin wire tied around to keep tin closed while cooking.

Fill tin with freshly cut lengths of willow of similar thickness-close tins and wire up.

Carefully place filled tins into hot coals of open fire or bar-b-q.

First the wood will steam,than it will smoke and finally flames will come through holes as gases burn off.

Once it stops burning and smoking, remove tins from fire, allow to cool thoroughly before opening tins-if opened to soon, they may reignite or crack.

If these procedures are followed correctly, you will be the owner of a soft silky drawing charcoal, more delicate and beautiful than the finest pastels. If you have any problems e-mail me. I will be giving weekly drawing demonstrations using the charcoal very soon.

Good luck!