MAKE: Toast art

MAKE: Toast art

The best art since sliced bread? Gavin Harper, our mate who has written articles on Build Your Own Band Aid Fuel Cell, Make a Geodesic Dome, and a number of cool tech books, met up with acclaimed “Toast Artist” Lennie Payne, who gives MAKE: readers some insight on how to make art from toast…
I met up with innovative artist, Lennie Payne who has been telling me all about how to make art from bread. The process is a fantastic way of self expression using white bread, a blow torch and scraping instruments to create pictures in toast.

It’s the sort of thing that I thought you MAD makers would like to have a go at from the comfort of your own back yard, and I am well aware that excuses to burn things are always needed. So here ya go… a great excuse to play with some propane.

Paint gets a bit boring and samey after a while, so I am sure that any intrepid Makers/Crafters (delete where applicable) would like to try this bold new process. However, rest assured, it’s harder than it looks! I struggle to make good ol’ plain toast without burning it, never mind creating pretty patterns.

Lennie’s website,, gives lots of details about the works that Lennie has undertaken, and could provide some inspiration for MAKE readers. Lennie has done works of Elvis Presley, Marc Bolan, and British Comedian, Benny Hill. You can find more inspiration on Lennie’s artwork page at


The detail that you can get with this medium is truly amazing, the tonal qualities of toast are really amazing when you stand back and take in the whole picture.

If you would like an original quality piece of art, Lennie is available for commissions, you can contact him at

If you want a bit of variation, I suppose there is nothing to stop you using sun-dried tomatoes, or granary bread with seeds .

Lennie explained the process to me:

“When bread is dry, it won’t degrade or go mouldy, so by flattening the bread, and then lacquering it, to keep the moisture out, the bread stays dry and wont rot. This is done after the bread has be toasted. You use a gas blowtorch to scorch the bread and turn it black, and then scrap away the burnt bread to create different tonal values., once the bread is lacquered on all sides, which helps to vitrify the bread, it is stuck onto a base with some silicone adhesive.”

Lennie is soon to appear on BBC’s Inside Out, who recently made a programme about him and his work, he has been featured in a number of UK newspapers and magazines, who find his work eye-catching and innovative. He has appeared on radio and TV in the UK and is quickly gaining an international following.

My final questions were “Is there much dough in it”, having clearly heard it before, Lennie replied obviously having heard the comment several times before, “I manage to earn a crust”.

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