Do you remember being told off for burning ants and leaves with a magnifying glass when you were a kid? If so, congrats; your parents made sure you wouldn’t go blind from staring at focused sunlight for too long.
Taking a page out of this timeless childhood pastime, artist and filmmaker Michael Papadakis of Sunscribes has magnified (see what I did there?) the sun’s rays using a number of lenses and mirrors to create some awe-inspiring etched art:
“Heliography” (a term he coined himself) is more than just the finished product. Papadakis usually gets invited to events for major brands who inquire his unique form of art. It’s there on location where he works his magic and burns a unique piece specifically for the client.
Apart from the usual array of handheld magnifying glasses, Papadakis carries a bunch of different-sized mirrors which he holds up to the wood or stone canvases. He also has a number of lenses on sticks of varying lengths for pieces which are a little taller or out of reach.
What’s amazing is he is totally self-taught and self-produced. Since no one could teach him a unique brand of art, Michael had to go through a lot of trial, error, and eye-blinding to fine-tune his heliography to a point where he could provide consistent results.
With every piece, he makes sure to wear UV protective eyewear to protect his eyes and UV protective clothing to save his skin from the sun’s rays and accidents which come from working with focused sunlight (such as chunks of rock unexpectedly chipping off). He always has a fire extinguisher on hand and NEVER works in an area which has flammable materials or is prone to wildfires.
His portfolio includes a number of sunburned portraits of everyday objects, calligraphy, and numerous people and animals. You can see the finished products as well as behind-the-scenes footage of them on his Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube channel and of course, the Sunscribes webpage.