Sunday, 12 February 2017

Kitchen Trouble

Hi all,
I am afraid there hasn't been any time for pen making, wood turning or pyrography for the past two weeks. The reason for my lack of creativity is that my wife decided she wanted a new kitchen because she no long liked the one that was in the bungalow when we bought it. This meant I had to traipse around various kitchen showrooms with her while she weighed up her options. After several days of this and at least two full layouts that I did for her on the computer she changed her mind. She decided against a new kitchen because of the cost. I don't blame her because the prices quoted were just plain silly.

Let's face it kitchen cupboards are mostly chipboard so how can they justify prices of around £600 for a single cupboard? Anyhow, when she said she'd changed her mind, I did a secret jump for joy and was about to scuttle back to my workshop to do some turning any pyrography. I shouldn't have looked so happy because she wasn't done yet.

Seeing has she was saving us a fortune by not having the kitchen of her dreams, she wanted some changes made to the one we've got. This included a new ceramic sink and new flooring, but the biggest task was to solve her storage problem for her. We had kept all our tins of food and jars in the corner cupboard which is about as much use as an ash tray on a motorbike. Corner cupboards are a wast of space because you can't see what the hell is going on at the back. This was one of the main reasons why my wife wanted a new kitchen, because the the new corner cupboards are called magic corners. You open the door and a selection of cranks and pulleys means you are presented with the contents of the cupboard an it is all very easy to get at. However, this contraption, as good as it is, costs a lot of dosh. So I was asked to come up with somewhere for her to store what is in the corner cupboard and make it easy for her to get at.

The only space in the kitchen to put anything new was between the fridge and the hall.
If you look along the white wall to the right hand side you can see the doorway to the hall, so any cupboard in that area would have to be thin. In fact, it could only be 4 inches deep and 24 inches wide.

Having sorted out the measurements, I searched the Internet looking for such a cupboard, but nothing exists. My only option was to build one, so I did a rough drawing and went to Wickes and bough the wood.
That's it, thirty quid's worth of pine, just think of the pen blanks I could have got for that. Anyway after beavering away for a couple of days on my scroll saw, (the only saw I own that doesn't require muscle power) I finally finished the job. Here it is in all its glory.
It looks pretty smart even if I do say so myself and my wife is over the moon with it. She can now see exactly what she has in the cupboard and it is nice and easy for her to get at.
So now you know why I haven't done a post for a couple of weeks. She still wants me to build two plate racks and do some tongue and groove cladding around the breakfast bar, but regardless of that, I'm going to start turning and burning again very soon. In my next post, I'll tell you about the pyrography pen that sold in less than 24 hours and give you some more tips on how I do the pyrography on pens.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Free Book

Hi all,
Just a quick between post to let you know that one of my books will be free to download from Amazon for the next 3 days. That's the 1st until the 3rd of February. The book is called "No Fishing In Here: Just Other Short Stories."

Most of you will know that most of my books are about fishing so this one is a change. It contains a collection of my short stories, which are linked together by our emotions. So why not grab a copy while it is free and have a good laugh, or maybe shed tear or two.

To get your copy click on the books tab at the top of the page and then onto the book's title to get a link straight through to the book on Amazon

Happy reading.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Another Pyrography Pen

Hi all,
In my last post I said that there were two main issues when it came to doing pyrography. The first was the need to buy a good pyrography machine, which I covered last week. Today, I would like to talk about the next big issue when it comes to pyrography.

It is a bit difficult to explain, but it comes down to the balance between light and dark. Those of you who are thinking of taking up pyrography and perhaps a lot of people who have been doing it for a while need to consider how they see the balance of light and darks.

Ask yourself what it was that bought you to like pyrography in the first place, then google images of pyrography. There is some lovely stuff out there, but there are lots of other items that could be so much better.  Take a look, and noting the amount of dark and light wood on the images, decide if you like one type more than the other.

I'm not having a go at other people's pyrography because  you will find that I have a few things on there myself that could be better. I was a line burner for quite a while before the penny dropped. I think that when one takes up pyrography, the delight that comes from burning lines into wood is enough, at least to begin with. After that comes a desire to do a bit of shading and because the results are pleasing a lot of people who practise pyrography stop there.

Let me show you one of my early efforts.
Here we have an image of a mouse chewing a piece of corn with some grasses in the background. I nice enough image even if I do say so myself, but it is lacking something. Can you see that it is just burnt lines on a piece of wood. To be honest I could have done the same with a sepia coloured pen.
Now consider this image.

It's better, the butterflies are nice and dark, but there is little in the way of shading on the leaves. I guess I was scared of spoiling something that looked good, so I finished up with something nice that could have been stunning. If I was to do this image again I would have done more shading on the leaves, trying to find a better balance between light and dark so that the leaves popped out without destroying the contrast with the butterflies.
Here is another image.

It consists of some daisies on  a very dark background.  It was done to be a clock for our kitchen, but can you see how the dark background makes the daisies pop out. Just imagine how it would look if I just burnt around the image as in the mouse example above, would it look as good? I think not.

Anyway, it might be just down to personal opinion, but to me pyrography images that have a larger percentage of burnt wood look much better to me. If you like have just lines burnt into wood then carry on with your style, but if you would like to try a darker style I will be talking more about it in my next post.
For now I will leave you with a picture of my latest pyrography pen, which follows my suggestion that darker images are better images when it comes to pyrography.

 I hope you like it, in my next post I will describe how I burn this type of image and give you some tips. If you have any thoughts about what I have said in this post please let me know, I'd love to have your opinion.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Pyro Pen

Hi all,
I've managed to do another pen this week and rather than just show it to you, I thought it might be useful if I talked a little bit about how I do it. It might not be the best way or the only way, but it is my way and it works for me.

I have been doing pyrography for about 8 years and I have discovered a few things that might be helpful to those who are interested in this sort of artwork, regardless of the item upon which they are doing the pyrography. It might be a pen, a bowl or any other item made of wood or leather.

There are two main issues when it comes to pyrography, that is if you want to do any sort of detailed work. If you want to create stuff that looks like it has been in the fire of London, that's fine, get yourself a blow torch. However, if you want control over your light and dark areas you will need a decent pyrography machine. By that I mean machines like a Razer Tip or a Peter Child Machine.

I started off with one of those cheap sub £20 jobbies that has the branding iron type tips, you know the one, it looks like a soldering iron on steroids. However, it didn't take me long to discover that I if I wanted to do finer work with some consistency then I needed something better. I purchased a Peter Child machine and I have used that ever since.

Here is my latest pen.
It has an overlapping banding design that would be very difficult to do if I used the cheap pyrography iron. In fact, I think it would be almost impossible.

The reason for this is two fold. Firstly, the cheaper pyrography irons do not have any temperature control, which means that it is easy to get over-burn. Over-burn is simply when the heat from the pyrography iron does not actually burn, but discolours the lighter wood that you are trying to preserve. If you look at the pen above, it would be difficult to get sharp lines with a cheap pyrography iron.

The second issue is the size of the tips that comes with a bottom of the range pyrography iron. They are just to big to allow burning with any sort of finesse. I use a spoon tip for almost all of my work with my Peter Child machine because I find that it gives me more control.
Above, you can see the two main types of tip for a Peter Child machine. I use the one on the left because it allows me to use the back of the spoon for shading and the edge if the spoon for drawing fine lines. It really is very versatile. However, don't get thinking that the Peter Child machine is restricted to these two types of tip because it isn't. These wonderful tips below, although not specifically made for a Peter Child machine, will work with it quite happily. One has to be careful though with tips because one can finish up buying tip after tip when most effects can be achieved with a spoon tip.

Here is picture of the pen I showed last week, all of the work on here was done with a spoon tip.
Another plus point for the more expensive pyrography iron is the size of the pen. The more expensive ones are about the size of a marker pen and that gives you much more control than the cheaper version which is like trying to draw with a turkey drumstick. You will also find that the decent iron is cooler to hold, whereas the cheap one gets very hot to the touch in a very short while.

So if you are thinking of taking up pyrography, getting a decent pyrography iron is the best way to go. In my next post I will tell you what the second issue is that I have discovered about pyrography.

Much of what I have said here can be found by clicking on the pyrography tab at the top of the page, so please go there if you would like more information on the subject. And please feel free to ask any questions about pens or pyrography.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Reedmace pyrography

Hi all,
I was so encouraged by the way my last pen went down that I have decided to open my Folksy shop again. I'm not seeking to make bundles of money, but it would be nice to be able to use the money from any sales to buy more pen kits. In other words, if I can make my pen turning and pyrography hobby self-financing it would be great.

The thing is, having made the decision to open a shop again on Folksy I have had to get my pyrography iron out and start burning. I have three pens to show you and here is the first. It is a gold plated twist action pen upon which I have burnt a reedmace design.
It is a very nice pen and feels well balanced in the hand.
 On my next pen I used my pyrography iron to burn a weave pattern which I think is very effective.
The next pen I made was completely different because I modified the design by removing the centre band.And then burnt a leaf design onto it. I think this is probably my best pen so far.
I hope you like these pens because my intention is to make a few more all of which will be decorated with pyrography. I have done quite a bit of research about wooden pens on the internet and it seems that nobody else is making them in conjunction with this type of pyrography. This makes my pens unique.

My shop is called Sam's Pens and can be found on

In my next post I will explain more about the pyrography and how I approach burning images onto the very small area of a pen.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Burnt Leaves and Comments

Hi all,
 In my last post I showed you the design I had in mind for a bit of pyrography on a pen. Here it is again in case you are new to this blog or just forgot about it.
Well I had a go with my pyrography iron and here is the finished article. All of the pyrography work was done with a Peter Child's machine and a spoon tip.
It isn't as good as I wanted it to be, but I like it a lot.

The main issue is the amount of light wood showing through  where the pyrography is supposed to be dark. Actually, it wasn't like that when I completed the burning process, but I had an issue with the finish that I applied to the pen. I won't bore you with the details but it meant that I had to do a bit of sanding to even the finish out and that process removed some of the wood. The effect of this was that it reveal some of the unburnt wood which in turn makes the pyrography less sharp.

Still, I learned a lesson and will not make the same silly mistake again. I will do the same design again in the next few weeks and I will put them both up for comparison.

Regarding comments, I don't seem to get that many but I had one recently asking me if I sold my work anywhere. This is an interesting point that I have been thinking about it myself because I can't just keep making things out of wood and pile them up in the house.

I did have shop once on where I sold a number of items, but this was in the days when I was buying my own blanks to do the pyrography on. I tried making square boxes but the whole thing was so time consuming it wasn't worth the effort and what with the limitations of the blanks that were available I ran out of things to put in the shop.

However, now that I have a lathe and I am able to make whatever I want from pieces of wood, things are different. Even with my limited time resources my output is higher than ever. So the answer is that I will probably be opening another shop on in the next couple of weeks. Please watch this space for details.

One last thing, The first book in "The Fishing Detectives" series,"Carp Rustlers" will be free to download from the 11th to the 13th of January. To get a copy, click on the books tab at the top of the page and then on the book's cover and you will get the link straight into Amazon.

And just another last thing regarding comments. They really are appreciated, I know that there is a little exercise to complete, just to prove you are not a robot, but I really would like to here from you if you have any comments to make.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Freebie and pyrography

Hi all,
I'm finally about to do some serious pyrography. I am getting on pretty well with the lathe, so now I can use it for its intended purpose. That is to allow me to turn objects upon which I can do some pyrography.

My next pyrography project is a pen upon which I hope to burn a leaf design. This will be my second attempt at pyrography on a pen, the first was a bit of an experiment but this one is going to be proper. To that end I have drawn the design out and hope that I can replicate it with my pyrography iron once I have turned the pen. I have found over the years that having a drawing to work to greatly improves the chances of success.

When I was at management college our tutor used to have a quote. "Poor planning equals piss poor performance" and he was right.

Anyway, this is what I hope the finished pen will look like.
If it comes out looking anything like the drawing I will be well chuffed and I hope to show you the finished pen in my next post.

One other thing, one of my books "Bossyboots" is free to down load on Amazon until the 6th of January. If you are interested in getting a copy please do so while it is free. Of all the books I have written it is my favourite and is good for a laugh.

Just click on the book's tab and then the book title and it will take you straight to the Amazon page.