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.
The Guild owns a number of 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.
- Basics and methods
- Signing your piece – Pyro 101
- Photo to sketch software
- Nib types
- Timber selection
- Variable temperature machines
Butterfly S Henry