Firstly, what is pyrography?
Pyrography is the art of decorating a surface with burn marks using a heated metal tool. It is widely known as wood burning, fire writing and pyro art.
The process of writing with fire has been practiced by many cultures since the dawn of recorded history.Peaking in the 19th-20th century and ever popular by varied artists today.
THE TOOLS OF THE TRADE
SOLID POINT BURNER
These are similar to a soldering iron.They have a fixed temperature and have brass tips that are heated by an electrical element.
WIRE TIP BURNER
These have variable heat control and use wire tips.They can be used with fixed nib pens and also pens with interchangeable tips.
We use the Razertip single and dual units (shown in image) with a range of their fixed tip pens and changeable tips for more precise detail.
*Always read and follow your Manufacturers instructions for safe use and cleaning of your tool.
Now you have the tool, what can you burn on?
Anything that is natural, organic, untreated and unfinished. The most common are:
WOOD: Basswood, pine, maple and plywood are great starting points. Always sand the surface well before beginning your project to ensure a smooth pleasant burning experience.
LEATHER: Vegetable tanned pre-made products are readily available from most craft stores and online. Belts, purses, bracelets bookmarks etc .Leather burns at a low temperature and is very easy to work on due to its smooth surface.
PAPER: Watercolour paper is the most popular for pyrography. Cold or hot pressed and the heavier the better. We use 140Ibs
blocks instead of individual sheets to help avoid the paper buckling under the heat of the pen.
GOURDS:Cut, clean and dried hard shell gourds are great for decorating. With both a hard and porous surface they burn smooth and easy.
*It is advisable to burn in a well ventilated area, with eye protection and a mask to avoid breathing in any toxic fumes from materials and eye irritations.
Transferring your design
There are many tried and tested methods depending on which canvas you have decided to burn your project on. What works best for you is about trial and error and your drawing ability.
PENCIL: Draw your design directly onto the surface, as light as possible for easy erasing when done. We use brown pencil to add to the designs lines and shading when finished.
GRAPHITE PAPER: This is great if you are not a Monet or Rembrandt master artist. Place the paper face down on your surface and trace your printed or pre-drawn design directly with ease.
We advise against the use of carbon papers, pyrography paper and other burn through methods as many are highly toxic and burn into your work
Now for the FUN PART!
Turn on your chosen tool, and burn burn burn!
*You do not need to be heavy handed to leave an impression. Light flowing strokes help create nice neat lines whilst avoiding any slipping of the tool, uneven tones and drag spots.
*For darker tones use a slow steady stroke and for lighter a swift smooth flow.Start off light and layer until you get your desired dark tones.It's always easier to darken than it is to try and lighten an over burned area.
*If using a single temperature tool, do all light tones whilst the tool is getting upto its temperature.
*Play around with tips, textures, and strokes to create depth and pattern to your chosen design. Cross hatching, dots etc all add extra depth to make your design stand out more.
Thank you for reading, we will be posting more detailed blogs for methods and tips on different mediums.So stay tuned.