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While the art of pyrography can be performed on various surfaces, different types of wood remain to be the most popular medium. This natural “canvas” comes with many characteristics that cannot be found in any other material. Grains of different shapes and sizes, various wood sap consistencies, and the plethora of hues can all pose different challenges for the artist. But when these challenges are overcome, the result is a unique and lasting piece of art.
It is therefore important that artists have at least a little understanding of the characteristics of wood and how to make the most of it be it your wire-nib pyrography pen or solid-point pyrography pen. This also includes knowing whether it is safe to work on certain pieces of wood or not.
Here we will cover the basics in relation to pyrography and these include:
- Treated wood
- Untreated wood
- Wood tones
Hardwood comes from flowering, seed-producing trees that are from the angiosperm family. They are often from the deciduous species, which typically display annual growth rings. Oak, maple, walnut, and hickory are just a few examples of the various types of hardwood. Hardwood is generally difficult to burn images on and is not typically the wood of choice used for this medium. There are certain types of hardwood that are actually softer than some softwood. Poplar is an example of a type of hardwood that works well for pyrography.
Softwood comes from the gymnosperm family and belongs to the seed-producing category as well. This is the preferred type of wood to use with pyrography. Basswood, birch, and pine are examples of some softwood that are excellent for wood-burning.
Logo is burned on pine
Plywood consists of layers of wood veneers that are glued together to create a flat sheet. Plywood’s best features are its resistance to warpage, shrinkage, and water. Generally, it comes with both surfaces sanded. Since the Douglas fir is most commonly used throughout the US and Canada, this is another great wood source to burn your images on.
Before you start your burning you must first identify whether the wood you chose is treated or untreated. Treated wood consists of wood that has been painted, varnished, stained,
This Coffee sign had to be created with pen and markers because the wood is treated. Notice the wood is painted which was done prior to burning making this treated wood dangerous to burn on.
Untreated wood is wood closest to its natural state. You can find several pieces of untreated wood and your local craft and hardware store. Many craft stores have pre-cut wood pieces available for purchase to fit your needs. Lumber yards are also wonderful places to go to find freshly cut, seasoned, and reasonably priced wood pieces.
Wood color tones
The white soft layer of wood is called sapwood. Sapwood is formed between the heartwood and bark. Heartwood is the innermost part of the tree trunk. Heartwood color varies depending on the species. This is why we have a wide array of wood tones. Exposing cut, dry wood to light, specifically UV light, will darken the wood. Air, heat, and water exposure can also impact the color of the wood as it ages. Most wood will darken with age while others may change to a rust hue. Varnishes and oils can also impact the color of the wood. Working with a lighter shade of wood may prolong the effects of aging, however, there isn’t much we can do to prevent this natural process from happening.
Gourds, leather, paper, and bones are alternative materials that you can successfully burn images onto. Burning plastic or rubber items will not only melt and cause burns but will create toxic fumes. If you are not certain, don’t do it. Err on the side of safety first and always do your research.
Dollar burned on paper
There is so much more to learn about wood but things like different shakes (a wood defect), rays, rings, and interlocking grains among others. These natural characteristics are very useful. Imagine whorls, swirls, and minute cracks inculcated into your wood-burning as accents or natural details of your burn subject. Your imagination is the only limit!
I’d have to say that Spring is one of my favorite seasons that just warrants a complementing Spring Decor. Baby birds are chirping, fragrant and colorful flowers are blooming, and butterflies are gracefully fluttering about. Everywhere you look, it is bursting with life. When thinking of Spring, naturally, thoughts of cute little rabbits come to mind. I wanted to create a cute design that displays a traditional representation of spring. In this piece, you will combine some simple shading techniques as well as applying multiple colors to your design.
Spring Decor Supplies:
• Wire-nib pyrography pen or solid-point pyrography pen
• 10in x 0.13in (254 mm x 3.302 mm) diameter plywood circle
• Colored ballpoint pen for tracing
• Scotch tape
• Measuring tape or ruler
• Graphite paper for tracing
• Melamine foam eraser (magic eraser)
• Colored pencils (dark brown, light brown, pink, black, white)
• Stain (optional)
• Spray sealant (ex. polyurethane)
• Old rag for staining
Your pyrography pen needs to be set at a low to medium-low heat. The letters on this sign are rather thin so you will need to be aware of your pen settings and you need to be careful with the amount of pressure applied to your pyrography pen while burning. Be sure your letters are not burned at such a low temperature that the burn marks appear to be faint. When you reach the larger words, you can slowly increase your heat and/or pressure as needed.
Remember, sometimes it is easier to burn the outline of your letters first and then go back to fill in the empty space. This helps you stay within the parameters of your image and minimizes any stray marks. When you are burning your letters, if you come across any gaps where you should have a solid burning, go back to fill those gaps in at a very low heat so that you don’t burn outside the lines.
Let’s hop to it! It’s time to burn our image of the rabbit. Start off by tracing the outline. You want your outline to be burned in medium thickness. The purpose of the medium thickness is to have the outline dark enough for the image to stand out if you were to stain your sign.
It’s now time to work on the rabbit’s ear. You will notice the inside of the ear has a “Y” shape pattern. Burn the stem of the “Y” and at the tip of the crevice – start a dark burn. As you work your way up the ear, slowly decrease your temperature to create a lighter, softer burn. As you burn softer, you should not apply much pressure to your pyrography pen. Repeat the same process on the opposite side.
Start burning the marks and lines that indicate fur patterns within the rabbit design. Darken the area around the rabbit’s nose and darken the eyes.
Now it’s time to stain your wood. Be sure to cover the surface completely. Since your image has some fine lines, be cautious not to add too much stain or your image will not be easily visible.
If you do not wish to stain your wood you can go ahead and color your design. Once your design is colored, I recommend using a spray sealant to protect your image once completed. You can go ahead and color your design first and then stain your wood if you prefer, but it will leave your image looking dull and minimizes the details in the drawing.
Take out your box of colored pencils. You will need a dark brown, light brown, black, white and pink. Start by taking your dark brown colored pencil and tracing the outline of the rabbit. Continue to add the dark brown colored pencil to the fur lines and marks within the image of the rabbit.
Color the rabbit softly with the light brown. Do not color the inside of the ears brown. Leave that area untouched for now. Once the light brown has been applied to the rabbit’s fur, take your white colored pencil and softly blend it into the light brown areas. This blends the colored area more evenly and softens any harsh lines. Never use a lot of pressure when coloring. You do not want hard scratch lines that are hard to smooth out.
Add a light pink to the nose and ears. Again, burn lightly and add white to smooth and soften the colors.
Take a black colored pencil and color in the eyes and outline the nose and mouth. If you need to enhance your image, you can go back over the design and retrace your image using the black or dark brown colored pencil.
Once your rabbit is complete, spray sealant over everything and allow it to dry. This protects everything.
Every bunny will love the finished product.
If you have any questions, suggestions or anything you would like to comment on, please do so in the comment section below and I’ll get right back to you as soon as possible.
See you next time,
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, a Valentine pyrography project is called for. Here are some inexpensive and fun ideas to spruce up your home.
I have found several seasonal wood cutouts available at my local dollar store and for Valentine’s Day, I picked two different types of heart-shaped wood cutouts.
You can also create your own cutouts with varying sizes out of scrap plywood or other pieces of wood lying about. Simply find a template, print it out and transfer it to your wood with transfer paper. For detailed instructions on how to do the transfer, check out a previous post I made.
I recommend going online to find various quotes and fonts to burn onto the wood. Another suggestion is to find a stencil or letter stamps and create your own conversational candy hearts. These would look great displayed over a fireplace or hung outside your door.
Add some color to them or a little bit of stain to make them pop.
The possibilities are endless and you can’t beat the price. I suggest looking around your local dollar store a month prior to the holiday. These wood cutouts don’t stay on the shelf long as they will make wonderful gifts for those you love and hold dear just like this Valentine pyrography project. This would be a great project for any age group.
As always, if you have any comments or suggestions for a project, I’ll be very glad to hear about it.
One of my favorite images to burn is the Halloween skull. I love the way the burned marks give the skull image an aged and tarnished look. I also love the look of the various tonal values that you apply to the skull to give depth and dimension to your burning. In this tutorial, I will also provide you with a template that you can use to create your very own skull.
Let’s get started!
You will need:
- Halloween skull template (found at the end of this article)
- TRUArt pen
- Carbon paper
- Ballpoint pen
- Magic eraser
- Fine-sanded wood
Take your wood, template, carbon paper, pen and tape. Tape your paper to your wood and begin the tracing process. For instructions on how to complete this process, please refer to my previous post here.
Once everything has been transferred, start your shading process. I started in the nasal cavity. Be aware of where light will hit and cast shadows. I started working on the darker end and slowly lightened my shading as I moved up. This is not an easy skill to master. For shading tips, please view my shading tutorial here.
Once I completed the shading in the nasal region, I began the same process in the eye sockets of me Halloween skull. The template should be used as a guide to indicate where areas should be darkened. Don’t worry about your tracing being visible through the shading, you can remove those lines once your image has been completely burned.
Start shading around the jawline. Remember to burn in a light tone here. We do not want our darker tones to blend with the lighter. We need to decipher what parts of the image are further away than the rest or what area has more depth. The shading around the skull is only meant to indicate where the shadows lie.
Begin working your way up the skull. Notice the crack lines on the template. At a lower heat, trace the lines to show cracks on the skull. Be sure your heat is not too high or you will create splotches instead of crack lines. You can always increase your temperature if needed. Add more lines if you wish.
When outlining the skull, the shading should be a darker value around the top portion of the head. You still don’t want this to be a dark shade, just a tonal shade darker than the bottom of the skull. Slowly fill in the center of the skull with a lighter value as you go inward.
Once you have completely burnt your skull image, start burning the background. This is an extremely time consuming process. You will also need to use high heat so this step must be done with caution. An alternate option would be to use paint to fill in the blank space or just leave it untouched. I personally love the look of the background burned. If you choose to do this, start on one spot and work your way down keeping your strokes as uniform as possible. This prevents an uneven burn and makes the completed piece look more polished.
Now that your burning is complete, take a dampened magic eraser and erase the lines that are visible from your tracing.
I hope you have fun burning a skull of your own. Remember, this takes time and practice. You stick with this and it will get easier every time you try. I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Halloween.
See you next time,
I look forward to Fall every year. The cooler weather, the amazing aroma of spices, cinnamon and apple pie stir in the air and of course, all the decorations.
This Fall season, I wanted to find an affordable and easy project to create for my home. I went to my local dollar store and found these adorable plywood cutouts. Each package comes with five cutouts so you can easily create a garland for just a dollar if you wanted to. I wanted multiple designs so I bought five packages. Some universal designs can be found here.
Once I opened my package, I looked up clip art patterns online to give me an idea of how I wanted to sketch out my design.
With my patterns picked and sketched on, I started the burning process. I started with a thick bold burn outlining the outermost part of the wood and continued with a solid burn while tracing my pattern.
With the patterns completed, I began the shading process (please see previous post for shading instructions). If this technique is too difficult, you can always fill in the empty space with colored pencils.
For the areas needing white, I used a white paint-based marker. The paint markers work great since they don’t tend to bleed when applied to the wood. I tried to keep my colors soft so I added touches of color with colored pencils to enhance each character.
Once my cutouts were completed, I tied a string through small holes and displayed the garland over the fireplace. As an alternate choice, you can also tie a piece of string on the wood and use them for tags, gifts, or to wrap around a napkin for a cute Fall tablescape.
I hope this has given you some fun and very affordable wood burning ideas. This is going to be even greater when you get everyone involved in it. Ask your kids what they would like to work on and watch their imaginations fly! This is one the best times of the year to take your pyrography pen out. Start creating fun and amazing décor with everyone!
If you have any questions or would like to suggest other ideas, leave a comment below and I’ll get right back to you.
See you next time.
.With all the various pyrography wire tips out in the market today, two pyrography tip sizes are the most commercially popular. The 18 Gauge and the 20 Gauge (18 GA and 20 GA) tips. They correspond to 1.0 mm and 0.8mm respectively. The thicker 18GA wire lasts longer and is suitable for very long hours of work. The thinner 20 GA wire is perfect for slightly lower heat and intricate detail work.
As it often happens, customers buy a set of tips unaware various wire sizes. With our TRUArt Stage 2 Dual Pen Professional Woodburning Detailer and other wire-tipped variants, all our tips are interchangeable regardless of the size. The ball point pyrography tip and some of our shading tips are universally 18 GA. As such, you will need to initially adjust your pyrography pen’s collet (see image 1 below) to accommodate the slightly larger tip. You would only need to do this only once after which it becomes much easier to switch between regular sized wire tips to the thicker types and vice versa.
Below is a detailed guide on how to use our 18 GA tips on our pyrography pens:
Unscrew the locking nuts (arrows) from the collets
Push the 20 GA pyrography tip into the collets (red circle). Make sure that they go in straight into the collets as much as possible. Some force is required to do this. Do not wriggle the tip around once it’s inserted as that might loosen the collet too much. The fit should be as tight as possible to guarantee reliable conductivity.
Pull out the pyrography tip, screw in the locking nut onto the collets leaving it loose (small arrows). Insert the tip back again (big arrow).
Tighten the locking nuts. Your pen is now ready for some serious wood burning.
If you have any questions about your pyrography tip, have any comments or suggestions, simply contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below We’ll be right there to help you out.
This Mother’s Day, make your mom something special! What I love about pyrography is that it is unique and beautiful and burnings make excellent gifts. Much like painting, you can literally wood burn anything from quotes and designs to images of animals and people or whatever you fancy.
Let’s get started. First, take your pattern of choice and transfer it onto your wood (see transfer instructions on Wood burning tutorial).
When burning fine, delicate lines into your wood, be careful not to press too hard. This will create a splotchy, uneven image. Also, don’t start burning with your pen at a high temperature, start low and work your way up so your strokes don’t run outside of your design ( for more how to instructions see Shading Technique in Pyrography).
When choosing your wood, think about mom’s sense of style and choice of décor. Does she like serving trays or cheese boards? Does mom like to decorate her dining room with a beautiful tablescape or does she like to display decorative signs in her home?
Take your design and burn it onto any piece of unfinished wood. At your local hardware or craft store, you can find large pieces of wood that are perfect for creating serving trays. Once your image is burned, stain your wood, add a coat of mineral oil and attach the handles.
Another meaningful gift idea that works well for a mom with young children is to get the young child to draw or write a note to mom. Simply transfer the image onto the wood and burn the design. This will make a wonderful keepsake for years to come.
Wood spoons to rolling pins, picture frames to coasters. Think about what mom likes and let your imagination go wild. There are so many functional items available out there that you can personalize just for mom.
I hope you found these Mother’s day gift ideas useful. Take your time when first starting out. You will feel more confident and at ease as you work your way through your project. Have fun and enjoy the process.
See you next time!
Christmas is literally just around the corner now and what better way to spruce up your decorations with little pyrographed projects with your TRUArt pens? With free stencils of course!
Inspired by Andrea’s latest article, “Holiday Gifts”, I’ve collected some images across the web to help you all out. These were picked especially for their simplicity. and elegance – where a single picture conveys an unmistakable message of Christmas. It would be pretty tough to start burning big Christmas-themed projects at this point in time. Then I thought instead of going through the agony of waiting for that day to come, why not get the whole family involved in burning little decors to hang around the house and on the Christmas tree?
What’s more, these would be a perfect fit for those scrap pieces of wood lying about. You could create discs from small branches or others. Perhaps use that old scrap rectangular plywood in the basement as a warm greeting board or a little signage greeting everyone who sees it somewhere within the house.
Whatever the case, the important thing is that the whole family gets in on it – sharing the Christmas spirit as it were.
So hurry and click on the PDF files below and download your stencil. If you need help on transferring images to your work, check out Andrea’s guide.
- Bare Christmas tree
- Conifer cone
- Christmas quote
- Christmas quote 2
- Christmas quote 3
- Reindeer 1
- Santa 2
Have a great Holiday Season everyone!
I love the Holidays! The decorations are beautiful, the food is plentiful as well as delicious, and I am constantly busy. Ever since I started my pyrography business, I have been commissioned to make an unbelievable amount of gifts. If you are looking for some inspiration for creating something beautiful and affordable, I’ve got some amazing ideas.
This Holiday Season, go to your local craft store. In the wood section, they have a large selection of wood that is easy on the pocket and there are several items that are packaged with multiple pieces. These stores often offer discounts and many of these items are available in their holiday section which is often marked down.
I always create ornaments for my neighbors and my children’s teachers. You can also get some plywood rounds in various sizes that are sold as a set of 4 or more. I purchase these plywood rounds along with some stands and they make a great gift for any occasion. You can create a sign with Holiday decorations or even something a little easier such as an inspirational quote or their last name. TRUArt also has supplied some easy-to-burn Christmas stencils that you can download for free.
I also purchased wood slabs from a local lumberyard for an amazing price. You can find a sanded wood slab, ready to use, at your local craft store as well. These make amazing cutting boards, serving trays, display pieces, signs and chargers for your tablescape.
For my sample, I looked online for some clip art images of snowflakes. You can also search for snowflake patterns and find other great images to use.
Once you have found your image, transfer the design onto the wood (see my post on Wood Burning Tutorial for instructions on how to do this).
There are two ways you can burn this image.
Option 1: You can burn the actual design and leave the background bare
Option 2: You can burn the background and leave the actual design untouched
Once you are done with your burning, erase any tracing lines, stain (if needed) and varnish.
With pyrography, your handmade gifts can have the appearance of a store-bought, detailed piece but will be treasured by your loved ones for years to come.
I hope these tips have helped and that some of my ideas have inspired you to create the perfect gift.
Lastly, I hope you all enjoy the holidays! See you next time.