The Pretender

Recently someone asked me to show my burning process a little more in depth. I originally wanted to make a video explaining each step as shown, but this art piece needed to be ready for an online auction, just a couple days after being started. I did not believe that I would have enough time to put together a video, not to mention it can be quite challenging to work around a camera.

The theme for the auction was duality, so I began sketching up some ideas. This is really where the whole process starts.

When I have selected my favorite sketch, it is time to prep the paper for burning. I use 140 lb cold pressed water color paper. This type of paper has a moderately defined “tooth.” The tooth of the paper is used to describe the roughness of the surface. Generally, the more tooth a paper has, the more rough the surface will feel. In order to evenly shade the paper with my pyrography tool, the paper needs to be as smooth as possible.

I then lay my paper face-up onto a hard smooth surface. Using a metal spoon, I press down onto the paper moving it back and forth across the surface of the paper. I begin on one end of the paper and make my way to the other.

Once the paper has been smoothed out completely, I then transfer my chosen sketch to the water color paper using transfer paper. After that, I tape the paper to a large board to help prevent the paper from bowing and warping when heat is applied.

I proceed to burn each area in layers. Starting with a very light shading then going over that same area until the desired tone is reached. Very dark areas must be done with care to ensure that the pryography tool does not burn through the paper.


Once the burning is finished, I apply black ink to the background to make the burning stand out.

After the background is complete, I give it a final look-over an adjust anything that needs to be fixed.