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How to Do Wood Burning Art - Pyrography Tips

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I personally love to draw with pencil on paper, and have decided it was time to step it up a notch and try drawing with a different tool.

Pyrography is the name given to the art of wood burning, and so you will see many articles and pictures for Pyrography around the internet.   It was when I went surfing for some drawing ideas that I came across this term.  So, I decided to learn all about it. 

It is not a new art, wood burning art has been around for decades if not more.  I remember as a kid actually getting a kit for Christmas in the 1960s.  It was a very basic one with very large tips that when heated up actually burnt channels into the wood!  They would come with basic wood pre-stenciled pictures and with my mother hovering I would really enjoy this type of art.

But now, these tools are back in style but with tinier tips and more precise drawing.  If you love to draw then try this as you need to get used to having this tool in your hand instead of a pencil but the results are amazing.  You can pre-draw your picture with pencil then do all the detail with the wood burning tool or you can transfer a picture (second video) with an iron.

Step 1 – Practice – Find an old piece of wood, the smoother the better for practicing, and simply follow the instructions for the wood burner and try the different tips and see the different results you get.  Some artists stick to one tip and simply use different pressures to do their artwork.  Just try it, get to know how it feels and enjoy it.

Check out the video below to see the different results you can get.  She has done beautiful artwork and has made the video to give you tips on starting out with this technique.  I instantly thought how cool this would be on wooden boxes and other pieces for gifts or to sell. 

Wood Burning Tool

This is the kit the artist is using in the video.  You can get the wood burning kits online and they are an affordable new art form to try.  Many craft stores actually sell wood as a canvas for painting as well as for pyrography or you can find your own pieces of scrap wood.  Check at the local home improvement center, they will have scraps lying around.

Pyrography wood burning
Walnut Hollow Creative Versa Tool with Versa-Temp Temperature Control
Amazon Price: $32.99 $18.21 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 10, 2015)

Different pressures give you different results.  When I draw and want light showing on a pencil drawing I would leave part of the area white from the paper, with the wood burning you simply leave that bit of wood untouched.  So the different “colours” of your wood will add or detract from your picture, so you need to take that into consideration too. 

This is a fun art to try.  If you wanted to try something a little different from pencil and paper or brush and canvas then try burning wood.  It is a great way to use up old pieces of wood, or to add to those dollar store wood trinket boxes you can get.  Just don’t press too hard on those or you will burn right through (been there!). 

If you don’t like to draw but want to try this art, then transfer some images to your wooden piece and outline the image and then colour it with paint or pencils.  You could simply use this technique to add some depth to a painting you might do on a wooden box, or wooden frame such as the wood panel pictured below.  This would instantly be ready to hang on the wall just like a painted canvas as it has finished sides.

wood burning art
American Easel 18 Inch by 24 Inch by 1 5/8 Inch Deep Cradled Painting Panel
Amazon Price: $31.50 $22.47 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 10, 2015)

Transfer Images to Wood

There are loads of suggestions and ways to transfer images to wood, but my favourite one that takes the lease amount of messy products and effort is using the household iron.  As long as you image was printed on a laser printer, such as what they use at the print shops, then this will work.  As you can see in the next video the artist coloured in the finished work for added interest.  

Just make sure the steam is turned off on your iron.  You just want a hot dry iron.  I thought this was a cool way to transfer an image.  You could use some of your own drawings and transfer them.  

Also, make sure if you have print or words on the image that you have it copied as a "mirror image" so that the words are not backwards on your finished product.

Start with simple images first, because you can add to them as you get creative and more comfortable with the pyrography tool.  Obviously you have to be careful not to get burnt and make sure you have an area that is well protected, you don’t want to burn your work surface.

So, if you think wood burning art is that deep burnt single lined crevice in the wood, then look again, it is an amazing and enjoyable art that doesn’t look like wood burning.  Enjoy!

You can add colour to them, or leave them as different shades of burnt wood.  Different woods have a different effect when using the wood burning tool, so your image may look better on a certain type of wood.  You can then protect the surface with varnish or wax.

NOTE:  If you want to transfer a simple image and don’t want the fuss of the laser copy and iron, then simply take a dark pencil and shade the back of the drawing with the pencil then trace the outline onto the wood just like you would have done as a kid, but it still works and is great if you don’t have a lot of detail.  



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