As in other various art forms, pyrography or pyrogravure can be divided into two main categories – traditional and modern. In this article, we will focus on traditional pyrography which uses any heated metal equipment in order to burn not only on wood but on other specific materials, like bamboo. See our ultimate guide for […]
It has been said that man is made in the image of God, our Creator and Master craftsman or should I say, the Master crafts-God”. Meaning, we take after our maker in our need to create. Woodcraft is one of the most fascinating products of man. Pyrography, another term for woodcraft, has an amazing history too. Here’s an […]
There’s plenty of wood burning tools out there, and it’s tough to know what you are actually looking for, especially if you are new in pyrography. Whether you’re just getting started, or you’ve tried wood burning in the past and wish to jump back in, you need the best pyrography tools for creative wood burning […]
If you’ve recently discovered Pyrography or the art of woodburning as a hobby, besides the basic tools you need for this prehistoric craft, you also need to delve into the basic strokes and techniques. There are myriads of pyrographic art styles out there. However, this article will focus on the most common ones as an […]
Pyrography is a fascinating art – a fulfilling way to express creativity using different wood burning techniques to create interesting decorative designs at home. Either as a crafty kind of art or a decorative talent, it is raised to a whole new level of fine art by talented pyrographers. Timothy Dahl, in an article on Life […]
The range of books out there written by and for pyrographers is astounding. There are books on how to do pyrography, about the tools for pyrography, and also pyrography designs. Many books have been published in both eBook and print format, and you might find there are some books at your local library on the […]
So, what exactly is the definition of pyrography? The word ‘pyrography’ itself can be broken up into two parts: ‘pyro’ and ‘graphos’, meaning ‘fire’ and ‘writing’ in Greek. So the word ‘pyrography’ literally means ‘writing with fire’, as pyrography is the art of decorating wood or other suitable materials by burning words or images into them.
Pyrography is an art-form. The materials it’s done on, like wood or leather, is often carefully chosen to ensure the image complements the beauty of the material but will also stand out well.
With modern tools, the images created can have very detailed effects, like shading and precise lines, and when pieces of pyrography are finished they’re sometimes colored with paint or varnish to enhance the design.
Pyrography is usually done on wood or leather, but other materials used are clay and even hard-shell gourds, which when dried make for interesting and unusual canvasses.
Paper is also sometimes used, and there are laser cutters designed for pyrography that have settings specifically for burning thin and delicate materials like paper.
Other Word-Related Stuff
Pyrography is also known as wood-burning and pokerwork. The name ‘pyrography’ is derived from Greek, and the name wood-burning is relatively obvious, coming from the act of burning wood.
Pokerwork was a name developed in the Victorian era when metal pokers were heated in fire and used to do pyrography.
How It Works
When a metal object is heated to a high enough temperature it can burn and scorch wood. A pyrography tool is usually heated to 600° to 900°F (316° to 482°C), so caution must be exercised when practicing the craft to avoid burns.
It doesn’t require a great amount of force in order to burn the wood; moving the heated metal nib of your tool across your material slowly and steadily does the job without you forcing down on it.
By using different shaped and sized nibs and adjusting the temperature, you can achieve many different shades and thicknesses of lines, so the pictures you draw can be very detailed.
The most dramatic works of pyrography are on light-colored materials, so a wider range of shading can be achieved.
Care must be taken when selecting wood and leather, as both are often are treated with chemicals that can be toxic when burned, so untreated materials need to be used for pyrography.
A Little History
Pyrography has a long history, dating back thousands of years.
Old methods include heating a metal poker in fire until it’s hot enough to burn wood, or even concentrating sunlight through a magnifying lens.
As with today, it was used as a means to decorate and inscribe words or names into tools and instruments, as well as household items.
It wasn’t until Victorian times that pyrography was more officially recognized as an art-form, with the invention of pyrography tools, and it was then known as pokerwork. Courses and tutorials were given and it became more widespread.
Back even further into the past, Peru is considered to be one of the main birthplaces of pyrography, with it being speculated that it’s been practiced there for 3000 years.
During the medieval and renaissance periods is when it’s thought to have surfaced in Europe, and in the Han Dynasty in China (about 2000 years ago) it was known as ‘fire needle embroidery’.