What is pyrography?
I cannot say why it fascinates me
I can say it calls to me, sitting on the corner of the table
All cold and waiting, tips already set up
I can say I love the smell of the burning wood
Of the clean unfinished feel of a gourd or a basswood box in my hands
I love the holding and the waiting for the picture to come to my head
Before I pick up pencil and copy whatever I have found
Yes, I admit it, I am but a copycat but I love all of it anyway
Even when it burns, my fingers and I know I have to stop a while
Until it calls to me again...the woodburner on the corner of the table
How to start?
The road to pyro that I am started almost a decade ago now with a trip to a small gallery with my sister, Mary. We saw some painted gourds there and I knew I was supposed to copy that right then! Even though the season was over, we still managed to find a roadside vegetable stand with three huge open fenced bins full of different gourds. What a heyday we had!
From painting to wood burning was a small step really, because the research on gourds leads straight to Africa, where the oldest forms of pyrography can be found. Once I saw the possibilities this little copycat got to work...painting forgotten and wood burning the only thing I cover surfaces with becoming my passion.
Although I started on gourds, now that hindsight clears my sight, actually the best way to start is with small pieces of flat basswood. The kind used to make model airplanes is the best. Take up your pencil and draw on the wood or trace your favorite templates...even quilting pattern templates make beautiful wood burning projects! Then turn on your wood burner and go to work. Experiment with the different tips and degrees of temperature to find your pressure point...all the books are great but everyone applies heat and pressure in a different way; you just have to practice with the tips and play, play and have fun!
How to start? Just start!
So what are these ideas?
I have gourds all over..you should see my sister Mary's oh my now she is a true artist! But woodburning projects are not just to be look at...you can use the projects themselves, like the spoon I see on PBS, plates for fruit woodburned on the bottom side, bowls for dried potpourri or birdhouses...the gourds themselves can be used as drinking utensils and cooking utensils. The Japanese form of woodburning on gourds starts with the plant being very young and trainded to form an exquisitely shaped cricket box, then finally the design is burned into the dried gourd over a year later.
Once you start researching gours and pyrography it will lead you down a wonderful woodsy trail and every object will start to call at you. Just go with the flow and let the trail lead the way!
One of my favorite shows on PBS is a cooking show and the chef has a wood burned wooden spoon...very simple; just bands of wood burning on the handle but it makes the spoon a bit zestier, draws the eye without distracting from the show. If you don't know she has woodburned it. However, once you start this exciting and addictive form of art you will see signs of wood burning everywhere. The movies are one example; I see gourds and wood burning forms in old and new movies all the time!
Since I am a copycat if I see something I can copy, twist it, and make it my own so I am not infringing on the copyright that’s my favourite way to start. But stencils, templates, and copyright free projects are everywhere and can be changed with a copy machine to suit your current project. You do not have to be an artiste to enjoy wood burning. Holly hobby and Michaels have tons of wood and basswood forms to stir your imagination.
But remember...wood burns anything. You can Woodburn on paper, yes and that is very exciting. Imagine sending out invitations to your next get together on wood-burned paper with pretty borders burned and different shadings just turn the dial on the wood burner! Wood burners burn leather, even driftwood! The only caution I make is that wood from a home do it yourself place may have glues or other resins in the wood and that can cause dangerous fumes. One fun project I did was a sampler of all the wood burning strokes to make a checker set for my parents. Most of it had to be done standing at the worktable on the patio, the fumes were so strong!
The important thing is to start! Go to Wal-Mart or Michaels and get a $15.00 wood burner set with have a dozen different tips and go for it! I bet you too will then be writing odes to this most pleasurable form of art!