Jesse Lepak, Ph.D

I use heat to create art (pyrography) focusing on fish and wildlife woodburnings. My training at Cornell University as an ecologist inspired me to share my appreciation for the natural world and the organisms that live in it. I display pieces and demonstrate techniques in my new barn containing a workshop and heated studio. Feeling adventurous? Come try it yourself!




Natural Woodburning, 1776 Ellis Hollow Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850


I am in the Ellis Hollow area. My house and studio are close to the intersection of Ellis Hollow Road and Ellis Hollow Creek Road.


I have always appreciated nature, and pursued my passion by earning MS and PhD degrees at Cornell University in the Department of Natural Resources and starting a career as a fisheries scientist. My wife was concerned that if I wasn’t researching fish in nature, I was at home doing research in front of the computer. The phrase, “You need a hobby that isn’t work” was met by her purchasing a woodburning kit for me in 2009. I quickly began to enjoy the relaxing and creative outlet of pyrography. Perhaps it didn’t turn out to be the distraction from my fascination with ecology that my wife intended, but it has made me think about the environment from a completely different perspective, and one that I enjoy more than I could have imagined.

I attempt to use my handcrafted pieces as a way to capture and share my appreciation for many different forms of ecologically and aesthetically important organisms. When I find that sepia cannot do an animal justice, I add color to my pieces. Thus, you will sometimes see acrylic, watercolor and colored pencil in my work. In an effort to better protect and preserve my subjects, I use salvaged, recycled, and upcycled materials, and/or those certified by the Forest Stewardship Council when possible. I also enjoy donating pieces for auction to support groups like the American Fisheries Society and the Wildlife Society.

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