Homemade Drawing Charcoal

How to make your own drawing charcoal.

  • Wisteria Vines for Homemade Charcoal
    Priscilla packs some wisteria vines (no poison ivy, please!) into a bucket to begin the amazingly simple process of creating drawing charcoal. 
  • Charcoal Sketch
    As Priscilla's artwork illustrates, homemade drawing charcoal works just as well as store-bought sticks!
  • Burning Wisteria Vines
    She then burns them in the sealed container until the smoke stops coming out of the holes in the foil "lid".

  • Wisteria Vines for Homemade Charcoal
  • Charcoal Sketch
  • Burning Wisteria Vines

MOTHER EARTH NEWS feels strongly that youths can be creative "doers," working toward more ecological and self-reliant lifestyles . . . whether their tasks be raising chickens on a farm or maintaining rooftop container gardens in the city. To support the endeavors of our often overlooked "underage" citizens, we're glad to publish well-written articles from younger children and teenagers concerning projects they've undertaken. However, we recommend that all young authors query (that is, send us a letter telling about the story you'd like to do) before writing a full article. 

I live in Florida near a small town called Branford. I'm eleven years old, and I moved to Branford when I was six. Since I came here, I have really been interested in art. In fact, it's one of my hobbies.

One day my dad and I were in an art shop. I asked Dad if I could buy some vine charcoal. All he said was, "We'll try making some of our own."

The next day, Dad told me how to make drawing charcoal, and I set about getting the things I needed. You know what? It was easy to do, and the homemade drawing sticks work just as well as the store-bought kind!

You can make vine charcoal, too. All you need is a long pole, a bucket, a nail, pruners, matches, firewood, and some aluminum foil.

First, you have to take your pruners and cut many pieces of vine. (Wisteria vines are best, but grapevines will do.) Pack them upright into your bucket until your bucket is full. Make sure that no vines are sticking over the rim of the bucket, because the next step is to put two sheets of aluminum foil tightly over the top of the bucket. Then take the nail and put three or four holes in the foil. (Don't put too many holes in the foil, or too much air will get inside.)

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