Introduction to Pyrography

Pyrography is the production of designs and images by burning with instruments that produce heat.

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Art created with fire dates back to the beginning of recorded history. However I would like to focus on modern pyrography practices.

The term pyrography was not used until the Victorian era, when it was at its height in popularity. In 1904, Johannes Anderson published the patent for his “Pyrographic Pencil Exciter” in The American Stationer.

Most modern pyrography machines use electricity to create burn marks with a pen. There are many companies that manufacture these tools and their are many styles as well. A beginner pyrography pen resembles a soldering iron and often does not have a temperature control. More advanced machines have a control knob for the temperature and interchangeable pens and tips. The various shaped tips allow someone to create marks that differ from tip to tip. Most pyrography pen tips can be classified as a shader or a liner.

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Many techniques used with traditional drawing can be applied to pyrography such as:

  • stippling

  • cross hatching

  • shading

  • edges (lines)

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Using an electrical pyro machine is not the only way people are burning now days. Other methods involve blow torches, magnifying glasses, and even gun powder!

Pyrography is not just limited to woodburning. It is possible to burn on wood, leather, bone, gourds, fungus, and my favorite medium, paper. Each medium acts in its own unique way when burned, and some are more difficult to burn than others.

If pyrography sounds like something you would enjoy, stop at your local hobby store to pick up a burner and a piece of wood. It should only run you around $30 or $40 to get started. How far you take it is up to you.

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