Pyrography – or – Burning Pretty Pictures

Spending sometime at home over Christmas left me with plenty of spare time (once the seasonal panic and preparations were all done and dusted) ad so I dug out my old pyrography kit which hadn’t seen any use in years. I began playing with mark making and exploring the effects at different temperature ranges, such as high temperature allowing faster movements whilst lower ones more accommodating for more precise shapes and tones. After some experiments on some scrap wood I burned my name onto my new pencil box (which needs some internal modification). The wood of the box was much nice to work on than the coarse pine wood I practised on. One the pine the softer wood between the narrow, harder growth lines burnt away very quickly creating small pits – this made a nice consistent straight line very difficult. So from that I learnt quite quickly that quality of material is important, as it is in most things I suppose – it just hadn’t initially occurred to me with the pyrography.

After the box I then found some plywood which had a fairly even and consistent grain on its surface layer and decided to do an illustration, for inspiration I popped onto Pinterest and quickly found a simplistic fish design I fancied. I made a quick preliminary sketch and then set to roughing it out in pencil on the wood and then started burning!

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It went well an I was pleased with the result. Some of the lines are pretty deep and this got me thinking about making printing blocks with super fine details for making prints. I could use ply-wood and perhaps MDF? Or LDF? Some Light Density Fibre Boards have less of the nasty chemicals and can be worked to super fine details…. (Or at least I heard so off an Adam Savage pod-cast)  I think I will need to set up a small fan or minor scale extraction as I keep blinding myself with smoke and inhaling MDF smoke is most probably not much of a great idea. So I can see a couple of projects out of this, some experimental printing ideas, some general decorative work (like turned woodwork and wooden jewellery) and maybe a pyrography image etcher/CNC ?

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