Monday, October 26, 2015

Learning Woodburning (Pyrography)

Really, it's more like Pyrography 067: Remedial Woodburning. I'm a novice. I was gifted this woodburner last year for Christmas and I'm only just now trying it out. I thought I'd share my experience with everyone so they can decide if it's the kind of thing they'd like to try out too.

I have an inexpensive wood burner with 4 different tips. My first step towards figuring this whole thing out was trying each of the tips out. I grabbed a pine board from our scrap pile (this one is actually a breaking board from my husband's TKD stash...already broken in half).

This first angle tip was good at making fine straight lines, but not much else. It didn't work well for curves at all.

The tips just screw in to the tool. I used a potholder to hold my tips while working and a pliers to swap them out. The directions say to let the tool cool when you change tips, but they unscrew more easily when they are warm, so just be careful. The second tip I tried out was this cone shaped tip. It was like night and day compared to the angle tip and made a much smoother line that curved much more easily. It was still a fairly fine line, but was much easier to use.

Then I swapped it out for this round tip. It created perfect circles and a fatter line. It moved fairly smoothly over the wood.

The last tip is this shading tip that's shaped like a leaf. It works perfectly for stamping on leaf shapes, and sort of works for making lines. It's designed for filling in larger areas, but I'm not sure how well it would do at that.

After I tried out all of the tips, I grabbed an inexpensive wooden plaque (I think I picked this one up at Wal-mart). It's pretty thin, so I put it on a cork trivet to keep it from sliding around and to protect my table. One of the benefits of working on this plaque for my first project is that it has a pretty tight and smooth grain. The wood grain on the pine board had the heat tool skipping all over the place. Be sure to keep your scrap wood out when you start a project so that you can test to see how hot your tool has gotten before you start burning.

I sketched a simple design out with pencil and then started burning. I found out not to use a pencil with a dark eraser. The bits of  dark eraser got stuck in the wood grain. I started by burning with the shading tip. I stamped on each of the leaves and then flipped the tool around to create the petals on the flowers. I stamped three times to create the tulip.

Then I went over the rest of my lines with the cone shaped tip and made them thicker with the round tip. It's an interesting medium to work with--it's not very forgiving. Once you make a mistake, you just have to work around it or cover over it. If you're the patient sort, you'll probably do better with your first stab at this than I did.

When I was finished, I used a white eraser to remove any extra pencil lines, and then I used some fine grit sandpaper to remove any pencil that was missed and smooth out the surface a bit. It's not perfect, but it's my first wood burning project, and I'm sure there will be more!

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