Man Dies From Electrocution While Making Christmas Gifts via Lichtenberg Burning

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
November 24, 2018US News
Man Dies From Electrocution While Making Christmas Gifts via Lichtenberg Burning
Ryan Leyba died from electrocution. (Friends of the Leyba Family via GoFundMe)

A New Mexico man died while making Christmas gifts on Nov. 11, a GoFundMe page stated. He was electrocuted while apparently using a fractal burning technique.

Ryan Leyba, the victim, was making Christmas gifts with his wife by burning wood with electricity when the incident happened, KOB reported.

The couple had planned to put epoxy on the wood pieces and present them as gifts to friends and family for Christmas.

“Every year we make Christmas presents together. We’ve done magnets, we’ve just done random Christmas presents because there were times we just didn’t have money to buy them for everybody,” his wife Natascha Leyba told KOB.

Unfortunately, Ryan’s finger slipped and “hit the metal of the electric circuit,” Natascha said.

Ryan left behind three kids, Abby, Riley, and Van.

He lived in Gallup, New Mexico. His family hosted a viewing at Fairview Memorial Park on Nov. 19,  and a memorial on Nov. 24, in the Sacred Heart Cathedral Family Center.

On the GoFundMe page, sponsored by friends of the Leyba family, Ryan is remembered as “a loving and dedicated friend, son, brother, and cousin” and “an amazing dad and husband.”

As of Saturday, 39 people had donated over $2,000 to the family via the GoFundMe page, with a goal of $10,000.

Natascha didn’t describe in detail what kind of method they employed in making the gift. But it’s possible they were doing fractal burning, also known as Lichtenberg burning.

According to a publication (pdf) by the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) in August 2017, Lichtenberg, or “fractal,” burning is an embellishing technique that uses a high-voltage electrical current to produce patterns on wood that resemble lightning flashes.

The practice is named after physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, who first documented the technique in 1777.

The popularity has grown rapidly among wood burners.

On YouTube, many videos of Lichtenberg burning can be found uploaded by wood burners.

The AAW noted that the dangers of Lichtenberg burning have not yet been fully understood by wood burners.

The Leyba’s apparently weren’t aware of the danger either.

“They said that the electricity just went from finger to finger,” Natascha told KOB.

“Electrocution happens when high-voltage electricity enters through any part of the body, passes across the heart, and then exits the body,” the AAW said.

At least two people have died “apparently as a result of doing Lichtenberg burning,” AAW added in the publication.

The AAW Board adopted a ban against the practice on May 17, 2017, based on the dangers of Lichtenberg burning.

The following is a statement AAW issued when it banned fractal burning:

“It is the policy of the American Association of Woodturners that the process known as Fractal Burning is prohibited from being used in any AAW-sponsored events, including regional and national symposia, and that AAW-chartered chapters are strongly urged to refrain from demonstrating or featuring the process in chapter events. Further, the process of Fractal Burning shall not be featured in any written or online AAW publication, except for within articles that warn against its use. AAW publications will not accept advertisements for any products or supplies directly related to the process.”

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