of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

A Walla Walla man died from electrocution while attempting a dangerous technique for sculpting wood, authorities said this morning.

Robert Riggers, 47, died outside his home in the 1400 block of East Alder Street sometime Thursday night, according to Walla Walla County Coroner Richard Greenwood.

His death was reported to the Walla Walla Police Department around 3:37 a.m. Friday, according to police spokesman Officer Tim Bennett.

Riggers had been attempting to create a picture frame using a process called fractal Lichtenberg wood burning, Greenwood said. The process involves running an electrical current through a block of wood soaked in salt water, causing it to burn and fracture into unusual patterns.

Riggers, Greenwood said, had likely used the method before, as many pieces found in Riggers’ residence were apparently products of the technique.

While the process can create fascinating art, it is very dangerous, Greenwood warned.

It requires a strong current, which enthusiasts often create with transformers taken from appliances like microwave ovens.

This current is frequently deadly if at any point the artist touches the wood or wires and completes the circuit, as Greenwood reported Riggers had.

​Andy Monserud can be reached at or 509-526-8326.