A Wisconsin couple died from electrocution after attempting a viral crafting technique called fractal wood burning

Wood plans have unusual fractal lightning patterns via high voltage wood lichtenburg burning.Susan Vineyard/iStock/Getty Images

  • A Wisconsin couple died after attempting a viral crafting technique called fractal wood burning.

  • The process uses high-voltage transformers to run electrical currents through chemical-soaked wood.

  • Thirty-three people have died from fractal wood burning since 2017.

A Wisconsin couple died from electrocution after attempting a viral art technique in their garage, officials said last week.

The bodies of Tanya Rodriguez, 44, and James Carolfi, 52, were discovered earlier this month in their garage after officers responded to a fire at their house in Marathon County, Wisconsin.

In a statement last Thursday, the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office said the couple died prior to the fire in their home while doing a crafting technique called “fractal” or “lichtenburg” wood burning.

Foul play has been ruled out and the deaths were found to be accidental in nature and are believed to be caused by electrocution from fractal wood burning — a technique in which high-voltage electricity is used to burn lightning or tree-like patterns into wood. that has been soaked in a chemical solution,” the department said in the statement.

“Through the investigation, it was determined that the fire started in the garage before spreading to the home,” the department continued. “We believe that the fractal wood burning equipment that caused the electrocutions likely caused the fire.”

The technique — which involves using a high-voltage transformer, often repurposed from a microwave — is employed by woodworkers to decorate various wooden items, including decor items and wooden cutting boards.

Videos of the process have gone viral on social media platforms including TikTok, with #woodturning and #woodburning garnering hundreds of millions of views on the popular video app.

According to the American Association of Woodturners, nearly three dozen people have died from fractal burning since 2017.

“High voltage electricity is an invisible killer; the user cannot see the danger,” Rick Baker, who chairs the association’s safety committee, wrote on the association’s website. “It is easy to see the danger of a spinning saw blade. It is very obvious that coming into contact with a moving blade will cause an injury, but in almost all cases a spinning blade will not kill you. With fractal burning, one small mistake and you are dead.”

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