Perhaps more related to art than normal woodcraft, pyrography – “writing with fire” – requires a steady hand, good hand/eye coordination, and above all the ability to ‘see’ how decoration could enhance a common everyday object. In the Guild, it is frequently used collaboratively to ornament woodcraft produced by turning, box-making or cabinetry.
Burning can be done by means of a modern solid-point tool (similar to a soldering iron), or a hot-wire tool, or by more basic methods using metal implements heated in a fire, or even by sunlight concentrated by a magnifying lens. This allows a wide range of natural tones and shades to be achieved – beautifully subtle effects can create a picture in sepia tones, or strong dark strokes can make a bold, dramatic design. Varying the type of tip used, the temperature, or the way the iron is applied to the material, all create different effects. Solid-point machines offer a variety of tip shapes, and can also be used for “branding” the wood or leather. Wire-point machines allow the artist to shape the wire into a variety of configurations, to achieve broad marks or fine lines. This work is time-consuming, and done entirely by hand, with each line of a complex design drawn individually. After the design is burned in, wooden objects are often coloured, sometimes boldly, or more delicately tinted.
A number of useful articles on different aspects of pyrography can be viewed via the links below:
- Basics and methods
- Signing your piece – Pyro 101
- Photo to sketch software
- Nib types
- Timber selection
- Variable temperature machines
The Guild owns five pyrography pen kits that are available to all members. It also has a substantial supply of both common and exotic timbers suitable for pyrography and ornamentation.
The Pyrography SIG meets at the SHED on the second Sunday of the month, from 12 noon to 4pm. Vivien Laycock is the co-ordinator of the Pyrography SIG and she can be contacted at: email@example.com