For those who have never heard of this art, Pyrography is about creating a drawing or design with a wood burner. In fact, the word “pyrography” literally means “writing with fire”. Even though it is called wood burning, you can burn your designs on other types of materials, like leather. It’s actually a really fun and beautiful art!
However, this process is not even remotely modern. It goes back to prehistory, when humans used charred remains to draw symbols on walls. Still, it was not until the 20th century when an electric pyrographic hot wire wood etching machine was developed and became a traditional art in different parts of Europe.
I consider myself a beginner in the art of Pyrography, but it’s actually a really fun hobby that anyone can try (with caution, cause you could get burned!) So, if you are thinking about trying this for yourself, here are some tips about the equipment you’ll need to help you get started.
Get the right Pyrography Tools
First of all, you will need a wood burner. There are different types of wood burners, and they vary greatly in pricing. For example, a simple wood burner could cost about $15.00.
Check out this Walnut Hollow Creative Woodburner Value Pen
The wood burner from the example above comes with four wood burning points. It has a basic on and off switch, which means that you cannot adjust the heat temperature as needed. This could become a problem for some, because the intensity of the burns will depend on the pressure you apply. However, it is still a great inexpensive tool to learn basic techniques!
Other kinds of wood burners will include a temperature adjustment knob to help you creates lighter burn shades. This could increase the price a little bit.
On the other hand, there are “professional” level wood burners. The difference is that they use a “hot wire” wood burning system, instead of the traditional solid-point made of brass. The wire helps create shades more easily without applying a lot of preassure. That is why they could get very pricey compared to others.
Look at this one, for example.
Interchangeable tips are the best for creating different effects on your desing. For example, some tips are best to burn lines, others are best for shades, others for writing, others are pre-made stamps, and so on. Stamps can have cool patterns or shapes, and even letters! Check out these ones: Walnut Hollow Hotstamps Alphabet Branding Set. Points, or tips, can be bought individually or as part of your wood burner kit. They are usually inexpensive.
Don’t forget, your wood burner should be cooled down before changing the tips.
Of course, you need a material to burn. As I said before, wood is not the only type of material that can be used, but it is the most common. The best kind of wood for pyrography would be any light-colored hardwood would be best, like basswood or birch, so the design can be appreciated. I recommend you observe and feel the surface before choosing the wood you will be using. The grain could make a huge difference in the difficulty of the wood burning process, because some types of woods have obtrusive patterns that could make it harder to burn in different directions. Also, consider the size of the wood. Although it is possible to burn on any wood size, smaller sizes will be more difficult.
If you are a skilled drawer, you can just draw your design lightly on the wood with a pencil and then trace it with your wood burner. However, if you don’t consider yourself a skilled drawer (like myself), then you will need some kind of pattern. A pattern can be any picture with noticeable edges that you can trace. Simple patterns with little to no shades are recommended for pyrography beginnners.
You can transfer the pattern unto the surface you will be burning using graphite transfer paper. Just place the graphite paper on the area you will burn, and then place the image on top of it. Using a pencil, trace the edges of the design. Be sure that you have placed the image correctly before tracing the edges, cause erasing mistakes can sometimes leave unwanted marks.
Here are some pyrography patterns from Pinterest that you could use to get started.
You can add whatever you like! For example, use colored pencils or paint to add life to your design.
If you already have the tools you need, remember there are tons of videos on Youtube and great books on Amazon (like this one) to learn simple techniques for beginners.
That’s it! That’s pretty much all you need. Other than that, lots and lots of practice and not giving up is the trick to becoming a wood burning master.