An early technique of creating intricate designs with poker was developed by Gyula, Countess Bathory, also known as the Blood Countess, after Christianity’s arrival in Hungary in the 14th century. She had wanted to use charcoal but could not find one, so she replaced it with a poker, a common household object, to produce her intricate designs. Her method of creating these burns was more than just practical; it created a “raw, plain look that appealed to viewers and probably influenced their decision to buy her wood carvings”.
The Process of Pyrography
Creating pyrography is quite simple. However, there are some steps you will need to take before you begin. As a starting point, you will need a long fire source that will allow you to build a warm fire quickly. In the case of a standard lighter, the flame will burn only 5/10ths of a second, so you’ll need a long lighter or match. After you’ve successfully built a fire, you’ll need to practice by burning a piece of wood that is 1/2 inch in diameter at a depth of approximately 1 inch.
Nowadays cheap kits are available which you can buy online. Here are top pyrography kits if you may be interested.
Depending on your skill level, you can either use a poker, a long flexible flint knife, or any small knife with a blade slightly over 3/8ths inch in thickness. These tools allow you to burn both smoothly and firmly so that you can create smooth and even burn lines. To start, set the wood aside for a few minutes and let it cool off. When it’s ready, hold the flint and steel in your hand and first rub the flint on your palm and fingers, then lightly rub the steel between your fingers. For best results, it’s best to make a long horizontal burn, starting at the top and moving gradually down the length of the wood. Next, grab your sharpened flint and begin to beat the steel into the softwood. You can begin at the beginning and continue through every section until the wood is completely blackened.
Not only will pyrogravure create stunning art and create an experience that’s unlike any other, but it can also be very economical and inexpensive as well. In fact, many talented pyrografters will suggest that you start out by creating smaller pyrographs of objects and work your way up to large creations. Some pyrografters who have sold their work have said that the top sellers were the small-scale wood burners who would hang their works on a wall or in a niche of a building.
Tips of Pyrography for Beginners
To create your own pyrography work, here are some basic ideas that you can try:
Safety for both yourself and your work is always a must. Suppose you are planning on doing this more than just occasionally, be sure to purchase a good quality protective shirt to wear. Most of all, be sure to stick with what you are good at and find what fits you best; this will help prevent burn injuries and possibly save you a lot of time.
It can be hard to tell the age of the piece, but there are a couple of ways you can find out, get a piece, and try to cut it. Then carefully mark and date it on the front; this should show how old it is. If it is newer, you may need to do some repairs, but you can easily determine the age by comparing it to the marks. The wooden pieces can also be tested to see if they are similar to each other, they may look similar, but each has slight differences. If one is damaged, then there are usually instructions to follow for repairs.
Most of all, enjoy yourself and be sure to post photos on your Facebook page!
Top 10 Tips for Pyrography for Beginners
- Find a medium that is appropriate for the project you want to make; these can vary, but don’t forget to sand it down if it is softwood. You can use sandpaper or a soft piece of sandpaper to apply the extra detail, but you should not try to sand out the fine lines and features of the wood.
- If you are trying to recreate a piece, be sure to follow the exact pattern of the wood. The lines and faces of the wood are really important for achieving the design.
- If you are trying to copy a painting or artwork, you can take pictures and try to recreate the pattern; just make sure that you make it as close as you can to the original so that it is accurate.
- Remember, it takes a steady hand to properly shape the wood, and it takes concentration to get the detail and design just right.
- While most designs come with a design that has the pyrography written around the outside, that is just to make sure you know what you are doing; you can always look it up on the internet.
- Be sure to clean the wood thoroughly before you start; this will help prevent fungus and bacteria that are not good.
- If you are trying to make something special, be sure to let it sit for a couple of days before applying the design. This will help you get used to the style and feel of the wood before you start, and it will also help them design and shape the piece to be even more accurate.
- Like all techniques, there are ways to make it easier; you can always do the design on paper before going to the wood or using a computer program. But, it is always best to make it yourself using the tools that you have available to you.