The word “pyrography” means “writing with fire”. Often the term is used interchangeably with the term wood burning. However, technically the word can be used to describe any type of writing or drawing with a hot tool. There are some amazing artists out there who pyro on to leather, bones and even paper!
All my pyrography (so far!) has been on wood.
What does a pyrography tool look like?
There are many different types of pyrography tool with fixed or interchangeable tips. The main two I use are a basic pen tool with 2 heat settings and a professional tool with a much wider choice of heat settings.
Simple: this basic pen tool has lots of different tips that can be screwed into the top and the pen acts a bit like a soldering iron as it heats the end up. This is the type of tool I started out with and is great for beginners. I still use the pen tool if I have lots of dark areas to burn.
Professional: I have a RazorTip burner and it is amazing for pyrography detail and shading. You have the choice of fixed tip pens or interchangeable tips to choose from and there is an abundance of different tips to choose from. The temperature control lets you have more control over shading.
How do you design on wood?
If I am burning a simple image that I am very familiar with – eg a sunflower, I will draw the design in pencil directly onto the wood before starting the burn.
For text, or more complex designs I will first design on the computer before printing the design out. I then transfer the design outline on to the wood using graphite paper. I then burn over the outlines and use the print out of the design to help guide me when I do the shading using the pyrography tool.
Can you burn on any type of wood?
Yes and no! It depends on what you want to burn. In theory if the wood is sanded well enough you could burn on it, but depending on the type of wood you’d struggle to get good detail and might be limited to simple blocky designs. I love to burn on Ash, Sycamore and Bass for detailed work but have frequently used Oak, Cedar and Pine for big chunky signs. You can also only burn on untreated wood as you really don’t want to be inhaling fumes from paint, varnish or woodstain!
How long does pyrography take?
It varies a lot! A freehand sunflower on a bookmark might only take 20 minutes to burn, whereas a detailed rose or big sign would take hours. It also depends on how much prep the wood needs before and after. Some items will need sanding and cutting before, other items needs lots of coats of sealant or varnish or stain after which needs to dry in between coats.
Take a look at this video of me making a sign to see all the different stages a bespoke sign goes through.
What items do you have for sale?
Please take a look at my social media where I frequently post videos of work in progress.