Homemade drawing charcoal

GeirDiy stuff

Today I had an awesome hike in the woods of Breiset where me and two friends have a little cabin. I got some really amazing inspirational views of both huge vistas and some of the wierdest and most bizarrely twisted pinetrees I have seen. We hiked about 6,5 km in fairly dense forrest. So it was great to chuck some firewood on the outside fireplace to get some hot coal ready for the barbeque when we got back. Today baked cod, sweet potato and lightly butter fried chanterelle was on the menu. The vista from Springkaatfjell
After dinner we sat and taked about everything and nothing.Twigs to be charred I found some pine twigs I had laid for dry last year to use as wall hooks, and started to whittle of the bark. Whilst doing this I got to think about the youtube videoes I had seen of DIY drawing charcaol. I thought it would be fun to try out this here with pine all around me and a crisp fire on the fireplace. But I needed a tin to put the twigs to be charred into. And that, I did not have…. Unless. The beercan I had just empetied. I cut some fitting sized pine twigs and put them into the can. Then I put the can onto the fire. Now it was just to wait. As you can see on the image I did not take of the bark. This would prove to be a little mistake, since I then got a looser layer of charcoal that fell of onto the drawing as I drew. Twigs in a can in the fire.
After about 30 minutes I saw that it was burnt a hole in the beer can. So a beer can might not be the best tool for this. But it works in a pinch for whenever you simply have to make a charcoal drawing when you’re far off into the woods in a little cabin. The fire burnt a hole in the thin aluminium can. Without any art supply stores for miles around. Because as you can see, it worked. I got some fairly good pieces of drawing charcoal. A bit on the soft side, but if that’s due to the charring time or the type of wood (pine), I couldn’t say at this point. Finished charcoal The good thing about a beer can of aluminium is that can simply burn it on the fire after the charcoal is done. It takes a bit of time, but when its time for you to tuck in for the night after some beer and good food around the fire, it’s gone. If you want a tin to reuse, use one made of thin iron/steel that can take a lot more heat then thin aluminium.
The next day I wanted to try to make some really thin and some a lot thicker pieces. The thin ones I simply wrapped tightly in three layers of aluminium foil , and chucked them into the fire. The thicker ones I put into a more solid tin I, to my surprise, found in the cabin. I made a small hole in the lid for the gas and smoke to escape from so the lid wouldn’t explode of with a sudden, loud noise, causing me to throw my beer high in the air resulting in me getting all beer soaked on the outside of my body. Beer goes inside body. As you can see, the thin pieces worked great. No breakage. But the thickest ones was harder to get right. I suspect the tensions in the material got to high when cooling down, so I will have to find a way for them to cool down much slower. The finished charcoal I got after both burnings. Although, they might also have broken due to the tensions when they got charred seeing as they shrink quit a bit as the water evaporates. So I got a bunch of really small and thick pieces. Oh well, it was my first tries, so I am happy.
Beer goes inside body.
Anywho, it was time to test the little buggers. How were they to draw with? Actually quite good. As mentioned earlier, they feels a tad soft. But that’s just a matter of taste and workflow. Can in the fire.They gave a really dark blackness. More then I expected. But they seemed to break easier then the store bought ones. Although not so much that couldn’t be used. I will try different kinds of wood later and see if they then get more solid.
This was a fun holiday experiment I can recommend everyone that’s into charcoal drawing to try. Chuck a few pieces of wood into an empty beer or soda can, place it into the fire when you sit around the fireplace an evening in your cabin. If you “only” have a fireplace at home, give it a go. Find your mom’s old cookie tin , put a few sticks into it and chuck it into the fire. Give them 30 to 60 minutes of charring time depending on the thickness of the wood, and try to let them cool down slowly by putting it to the side beside the fire after they are done, and let them cool down slow.
Just remember to take of the bark before charring. Then you will avoid the small pieces of charred bark falling onto your drawing resulting in those small irritating and unwanted marks where you want the papers whiteness to stay absolutely white.

I found it only fitting that I gave these pieces of wood new life in the form of this drawing of an old forrest landscape. This drawing is of course very inspired by the forrests and landscape around Breiset where I am staying while writing this article. Its full of amazing primeval forrest that can spark an abundanca of ideas and inspiration.

The finished drawing.