This is gallery of some pyrographic techniques I have tried over the years.
BURNT ON PIGMENT, BASSWOOD
The shading on the zebras was created by burning on top of white pencil. I have since stopped using this technique on anything but non-toxic water colours (no lead etc) as I'm wary about the safety of wholesale burning on pigments. Until I learn more about the potential hazards, I now use this technique sparingly, in a well ventilated room and with care of colour choice.I'll report more information in the safety section as it comes to hand..
BURNING ON BURLSBurls can make an interesting canvas for pyrography, especially if the subject is carefully chosen to suit the characteristics of the wood.If the burl is of a pale wood, then colour wont need to be used. Most burls however seem to need a little colour to help define the picture and contrast with the wood.Coloured with gouache..
COLOUR PENCIL ON BASSWOOD PLY
For a more subtle feel to your work, colour pencils can be used. This is not the wax pencil, but the normal artists pencils like Derwent, Winsor & Newton, etc. Wax pencils are more vibrant in colour, but tend to collect in burnt grooves and texture, making a blobby/rougher effect)
The Roo was first burn in and then the pencil gently laid over the top. A fraction of 'overburn' was then applied to add a little punch and depth
GOUACHE & PENCIL ON POPLAR PLY
I wanted this piece to be more dynamic and powerful in colour, so chose gouache paint, which is simple an opache water colour paint. Acrylic and gouache will go over burning quite happily, where water colour and pencil wont.
For a final punch, I used a touch of bright wax pencil.
This is a Wedge Tailed Eagle, a bird native to Australia.
Burnt with a skew, shader and writer.
MONOCHROME ON A GOURD
If you are after burning on a 3D project, gourds might be for you.
Hard shelled gourds generally are tan in colour, allowing less contrast than a pale wood, but a monochrome burn still gives a pleasing, antique effect.
Burnt with a skew nib and spoon shader.
BURNISHED PENCIL ON PAPER
All of the needles and mushroom stalks were done in monochrome. The Mushroom tops were done by colouring with artists pencils and then gently 'burnishing' to deepen and alter the colour. (Burnishing in this case means using a gentle heat to polish and deepen the pencil colour.)
Care to choose non-toxic pigments is essential.
BURNING/PENCIL/WATER COLOUR AND GOUACHE ON PAPERPaper burning has several advantages. It's readily available, easy to frame and has an aesthetic appeal all of it's own.This piece was burnt on hot pressed water colour paper. A watercolour was was laid first, then the main burning was done, making sure to heavily texture the deer's coat. Colour pencil was then used on the coat of the deer to bring out the colour. White gouache was used to highlight the tail..
MONOCHROME LEATHER BURNINGLeather burning is a lot of fun and very pleasing to the eye. It is a cool burn and a smooth burn.Vegetable tanned leather should only be burnt on.This is very much a tonal burning. Smoothness and a gradual build up of tone was the objective to convey the smoothness of the coat and leather. All shading was done with a spoon shade..
PORTRAIT ON PLY WITH BLOW TORCHIN MEMORY OF MY BROTHER, SCOTTPortraits are extremely effective in pyrography. This one was mainly done with a shader and a skew, but cross hatching can be equally effective and will fade less than fine shading.The background is a gradual build up of blow torch burning..
NEGATIVE CELTIC WITH A TEXTURED, PINE BACKGROUNDCeltic work is very effective when done in pyrography. A skew was used to detail the Celtic birds and a hot writing nib was jabbed in an overlapped manner to create the background..
MONOCHROME PAPER BURNINGMonochrome burning on white paper has a beautiful sepia look...like an old fashioned photo.A skew, writer and spoon shader were used..
COLOUR ON TAGUA CAMEO
Tagua is a dense material that very much resembles animal ivory but is in fact the nut of a tree called the Palm Ivory.
The actual size of the eagle can be seen in the small image.
The eagle was burnt using a very sharp skew and was then coloured using acrylic paint. The acrylic paint is vibrant in colour and able to be applied over burning.
NEGATIVE CELTIC TAGUA
Another sample of Celtic work, but this time in miniature, on a tagua slice.
A very sharp skew was used for the lines and a writing nib was used to stipple the background.
Don't forget, pyrography is as much about texture as it is about looks.
Actual size is 1.25 inches.
Another sample of working in miniature, this time a wildlife picture done without the use of any colour.
A skew and spoon shader were used.
The actual size is approx 1.25 inches.
MONOCHROME CUT WORK ON IVORY PIANO KEY PIECE
I was curious if ivory and bone could be burnt. As you can see by this example, it can, but there are several structural problems involved, including heat fracturing of the ivory and some fading. (It's interesting to note that tagua pyrography does NOT fade.)
This piece was produced by using a super sharp skew and performing small micro cuts.
The actual size is seen above.
MONOCHROME POINTILLISM ON IVORY PIANO KEY
Similar to above but most of this piece was done using the fine tip of a skew, etching thousands of very fine burnt dots. (It's slightly akin to scrimshaw in a way.)
The actual size is below.
GOUACHE ON TAGUA BURNING
Miniature pyrography can provide wonderful keep sakes. This miniature is of a vine covered window at a B&B I stayed at in Quebec City.
The basic picture was first burned into the tagua slice then the colour was filled in with gouache paint. A slight amount of 'over burning' was then done to create the shadows under the leaves, the planter box and the curtain folds.
Actual size is 1.5 inches.
MONOCHROME ON TAGUA WITH WHITE PAINT HIGHLIGHTS
I sometimes use a touch of gouache or acrylic paint to highlight a piece, especially if the subject is white, such as this arctic wolf.
It is painted on top of the burning with a fine brush right at the end.
It marries well with the pyrography and gives a much needed kick and contrast to these subjects.
Actual size is 1 inch.
Paper can take an enormous amount of punishment.
I decide to do this picture of my favorite tree, a Eucalyptus citriadora. It has the most amazing pinkish wood under the shedding top bark...and there is always miniature life at play on it's slopes.
I took several photos of the bark and made a sketch of how I wanted the bark to look. I then used my wire nibbed burner (with a long modified nib) to literally heat carve each layer of 'bark' out of paper. The bark was then assembled on a full piece of paper that had washes applied to make it look like the pink part of the tree. I also took a ball hammer to this background paper to give it texture. I then sketched in my imaginary lizard,and ants and pyrographed the lot...bark, tree, cracks, shadows, the lizard and ants. The last step was to add colour to the bark.
MONOCHROME ON BIRCH PLY
This piece illustrates that the type of wood you use will effect the colour of the work.
To do elephant eye without use of colour I had to choose a wood that burnt to the right colour. After much testing, I chose birch ply. If I had have chosen poplar ply, the result would have been much more yellow and not tanned as I had planned.
Almost this entire piece was done by strategic placing of dots and smudges.
Yes...it drove me insane!
NEGATIVE PYROGRAPHY WITHOUT COLOUR, PINE
The basis of this type of negative pyrography is to burn the whole surface of your wood and then engrave back into it to expose the original raw wood colour.
This was done with a dremel and a burr and has no colour or highlights.
It's done on pine.
NEGATIVE PYROGRAPHY WITH COLOUR, PINE
It's really hard to tell on this picture, but a lot of the lights of the city are actually coloured in yellows, oranges and reds. I used colour to create realism, interest and to be able to let the viewer distinguish each building and area.
The engraving was done with a dremel and burr and then paint washes were strategically applied to parts of the engraved wood.
It was done on pine.
I thought I'd show you a sample of a presentation plaque. This one has no colour and is made up of a composition of 3 animals in a fictitious setting. It shows how pyrography can be used in lettering also.
Can't see 3 animals? Ah..you'll have to look closely.
BURNT ON BARK
There are lots of effective and interesting things to burn on. One of them is bark. This is from a tree that is native to Australia, the Prickly Paper Bark. I found it just the same as burning on North American Birch Paper Bark.
It's an extremely soft burn and doesn't hold detail well....but it has got charm.
I used a spoon shader to sketch this.
Please note is is illegal to take paper bard from trees in some North American areas so, if in doubt, get it from a private tree.