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’.
A woodburner is a valuable and in many cases vital piece of technology for a pyrography artist. They are by far one of the most easy and cheap methods for doing pyrography, and they achieve great results.
What is a Burner?
Put into very simple terms, a burner is a machine designed to heat a tool for pyrography. They’re mostly quite small and come in different types depending on the kind of work you want to do.
A transformer in the burner provides the power and directs it through the cord to the pen, which heats up the tip you use to burn with.
Burners generally have a temperature control and will always have either one or two plugs into which you connect your pyrography pen. These are, respectively, called single- and dual-burners.
In fact, a lot of serious artists tend to have multiple different burners for doing different projects. Some will be single-burners, and some dual, and some will have a low range of settings and some a very high range of settings.
One or Two
Single- and dual-burners are designed specifically with the pyrography artist in mind. They have everything an artist could want, and there are lots of different models to choose from.
A lot of burners with settings will have a temperature control of 1-10, each number representing a temperature. A higher number means a higher temperature, and wood burns a little differently depending on how hot the pen is, so for detailed work this is incredibly useful.
Some burners might also have a small extra dial, for temperatures lower than 1, when 1 is just too hot still for the project they’re working on.
Single burners have only got one plug for a pen, so to change between pens requires unplugging the previous hand piece and plugging in the new one. Dual-burners however have 2 plugs, and so can have 2 pens running from it at once. These pens can be interchanged with the flick of a switch on the burner.
The Confusing Business with Wattage
Generally speaking, more watts is better when it comes to electrical appliances. In the case of woodburning however, it doesn’t really matter.
The wattage makes no huge difference when it comes to the quality of the burner, and you should always base your decision off the features you want.
Burners with a solid-point pen that only have one set temperature are a slightly different story. These burners tend to heat up more depending on their wattage, and so care should be taken when selecting tips to use because some tips may not suit the kind of heat put out by one of these burners.
The Burning Question: What do you Buy?
Your decision on what burner to buy when trying to find a burner should never be made off the wattage or any individual feature. Think carefully about what you’ll require any burner you buy to achieve.
If it’s your first burner it can be especially tricky to know what you want. Take your time, look at your options, and consider what it is that you want to do. For a beginner a versatile but simple burner is probably your best option.
If you’re a more experienced pyrography artist will probably have a good idea of what you want, whether a single- or dual-burner or a burner for solid-point pens.
The effects you want to achieve will be determined by the type of burner and tips you have, so always keep in mind what features you want when selecting a burner to buy. With so many options available, you’re sure to find one that’s just right for you.
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