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What is Captured Lightning?

Captured lightning carvings are a type of Lichtenberg Figure.  Named after the German physicist who originally discovered and studied them in the late 1700's, these organic, fractal-like figures are the result of electrical discharge across a conductor.  In the case of my work, the conductor is a wooden object.  Once the object has been shaped, 10,000 volts are applied across the surface.  At this high energy level, the insulative properties of the wood fibers are overcome, resulting in electrical breakdown. Much like an electrical wire when it receives too much power, the wood fibers overheat, and burn away.  Slowly creeping from the high-voltage probes where power is applied, these carbonized tracks traverse the wood grain as they work towards each other to meet. In doing so, the path of electricity reveals itself. To some, these patterns resemble lightning, trees, branches, vines, veins, and even neurons. In this way, we can see how nature repeats itself in a fractal manner, from the shape and form of branching trees and booming lightning strikes, down to a tiny spark of static electricity or the neural network that transfers invisible electrons through our nervous systems. And just like each of these natural phenomena, each captured lightning pattern created in my shop is random, unique, and inimitable.