Have you ever tried burning paper with a magnifying glass on a sunny day and see how quickly the paper burns under the intense rays of the sun? Well, Michael Papadakis puts this solar power to better use and creates some incredible works of art simply by burning wood with lenses and mirrors!
This 30-year-old Californian artist makes use of both refracted and reflected sunlight through a magnifying glass to create art. The lens becomes his brush and the wood, his canvas. He creates outstanding artworks by focusing the powerful rays of the sun onto the wood surface to burn it in the desired image. He loves to create romantic and family scenes from everyday life.
One look at Papadakis’ works is enough to show what a tedious job it is to burn the wood by a magnifying glass, tracing the exact contours of the sketch. On average, the time required for a single creation ranges from an hour to 30 hours, depending upon the size of the artwork. Since this kind of art is a bit risky, he protects his eyes by wearing welding glasses and keeps water handy to douse any fire that may erupt while ‘painting’.
According to Papadakis, his talent would’ve remained untapped had he not traveled to the high plateaus of the Pamir Mountain Range with a magnifying glass and a piece of wood to make, what he describes as, his ‘Sunlight Art’. The trade route he traced was the ancient ‘Silk Road’ that gets ample amounts of sunshine.
When Papadakis returned to the US, after traveling to Mongolia, China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Greece, the first thing he did was to replace the traditional magnifying glass with Fresnel lenses and solar collectors. Experimenting with different forms of sunlight made him realize the very different qualities of reflected and refracted lights. This knowledge helped him in creating his signature ‘Sunlight Art’.
Papadakis has showcased his unique art throughout the US and abroad and has made some famous clients that include GoPro, The Balvenie, RJ Reynolds, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not, among others.