Saturday, 29 December 2012
In my last post I said I was working on something big and that I'd share it with you in this post. Well, I don't know what it is about Christmas, but time just flies past and before we know it the first green leaves will be appearing on the hawthorn hedges. Just like every previous Christmas, I have only managed to do a fraction of what I thought I be able to do. Before Christmas, I had visions of spending lots of time reading, drawing and doing some pyrography, but it wasn't to be.
I did manage a bit of pyrography, but not as much as I had planned; I will show you how far I got at the end of this post. This current pyrography project has been zooming around my head for a few months and it's a departure from what I have done up to now. Not only is the subject matter different but also the size. This is the biggest bit of pyrography I have ever attempted and it measures 14 inches x 11inches; that's approximately 33cm x 28cm if you've been metricised.
Getting a piece of wood to do something so big on was difficult. They don't make plaques that size and birch faced plywood of the right quality for pyrography work is very expensive, so I went for veneer. I got it off eBay and it came in a roll with the adhesive already applied to the back. All I had to do was iron it onto a piece of MDF. I say all, I didn't have a spare piece of MDF lying about, so I had to get a big panel of the stuff from B&Q. Still, I've got plenty left over for future projects.
Anyway, I was bit apprehensive about using veneer for pyrography because it looks mighty thin, but I needn't have worried because it burns just like real wood. I said earlier that this project had been spinning around in my head for a while, well, all I could envisage was a big boat that had been dragged up onto a shingle beach. So I drew the image straight onto the wood. This was another departure from my usual method whereby I usually draw the whole composition on paper and then modify it on my computer before transferring it to the wood.
In this project, I drew the boat and a bit of rope and then burnt them straight on to the veneer. Once the outline of the boat was done, I set about drawing the shingle directly onto the veneer with my pyrography iron. I reasoned that if I've got to draw every single stone on that beach then it would make sense to do it once only. Below you can see the progress made so far, so keep watching this space to see how it develops. Because it hasn't been preplanned, I'm looking forward to to see what happens too. One thing is for sure, there is a lot of work to be done before this one is finished.
Tuesday, 18 December 2012
In my last post I said I would share my latest pyrography project with you. Well there is good news and bad news. As is customary in theses situations, here's the bad news first; I've been too busy working on my latest book to do anything serious with my pyrography iron so I won't have anything to show you until the new year. I have made a start on a new picture, but nothing I can show you yet.
With that out of the way, here is the good news. My wife has been busy decorating the house for the festive season and while she was in the mood she knocked up a nice Christmas picture to hang on the wall. I guess the holly is the plant that most people associate with Christmas and it made a fitting subject for her pyrography iron. She also used her paints to good effect to bring the subject to life. Below you can see the finished result. I'm afraid the photo I've taken is not so good as I would like it. The camera seems to have burnt out some of the colours from the centre of the image, but I'm sure you get the gist.
Times were hard in the fifties and early sixties and if we could gather something in from the countryside that surrounded us, then so much the better. We picked wild mushrooms, blackberries and other items to help supplement our mother's rather meagre budget. Indeed, it seems hardly believable now that we took eggs from moorhen's nest to go in the frying pan. My friends and I would search the local ponds and risked drowning as we plundered nests that were built in the most inaccessible of places.
We didn't take all the eggs from any one nest, even in those days we had the conservancy bug about us, we only took a maximum of two eggs from each nest because even then we realised that if we took them all there would be no moorhens the following year.For the record, moorhens' eggs taste much the same as normal hens' eggs but they are a bit smaller.
Right, back to holly. It is a strange thing about holly that although it is always shown with bright red berries most holly trees don't have any and those that do are raided by every known species of bird so that by the time it comes to Christmas, they are devoid of fruit. Anyway, one year we found a tree that was still loaded with berries and Christmas was barely a week away. This was an opportunity too good to miss, so my friends and I cut some nice branches off the tree and took them home for our parents.
Unfortunately for me, my father believed in every superstition that is known to man. To make matters worse, most of these folklores revolved around death. If a bird comes tapping on your window it is a sure sign that somebody in that house would croak it in the next couple of days. These were the things he believed in and so it was with the Holly. According to him, holly must not pass over the threshold until Christmas Eve, if it does somebody in that dwelling will kick the bucket before the new year.
I was unaware of this and because my mother came from Finland she didn't know about it either, but we both had to suffer my father's wrath when he came back from the pub and found that we'd taken some nasty holly into the house.
I'm sure most of you have seen the scene from Fawlty Towers where Basil gives his car a good thrashing, well that's what my dad did with my holly branches. He took them outside and thrashed then against the side of the house whilst shouting in a wild rage. The interesting thing is that nobody came even close to kicking the bucket that year and even if they did I doubt the poor old holly would be to blame.
By the way, I'd be interested to know if anybody else had moorhens' egges in their diet or was it something that only villagers did in these parts.
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
I haven't quite finished my next pyrography project yet. However, there is some good news because in between wrapping Christmas presents, writing Christmas cards and a thousand and one other jobs that need doing at this time of the year, my wife has managed to put her pyrography iron to good use.
One of our neighbours asked her to do her a special memories box for her friend who had recently had a baby. It would be something to keep baby photos and birth certificates and that sort of thing in.
Anyway, the neighbour didn't have any ideas about what to have on the front of the box so she left it up to my wife. Below is the box she came up with.
'MEMORIES' hanging from the branches I don't know where she got the inspiration from, but it looks very nice and I'm sure her friend will be pleased with it. The box is unique, colourful, fun and also practical, so it has to be a winner.
She started out by doing a freehand sketch on the box in pencil and then burnt the image in with her pyrography iron. Then she painted the various toys, shapes and words. However, she wasn't finished yet and to give the box that extra lift she coated some ot the items with glitter to make them sparkle. The whole box was then given five coats of varnish for extra protection. Considering she's only had a pyrography iron since August I think she is doing very well.
In a couple of days I will show you what I've been up to with my pyrography iron.
Wednesday, 5 December 2012
In my last post I said I'd let you see the completed fairy picture as soon as it was finished. Well here it is in full colour glory.
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
In my last post I shared with you my progress so far on a pyrography picture I was doing of a fairy. I have included the picture here to save you looking back at the previous post.
Saturday, 24 November 2012
I mentioned at the end of my last post that I was working on something new and exciting with my pyrography iron, so here it is.
I don't know if I'm entering my third childhood (The second was when computer games first came out and I spent many hours playing Manic Miner on my Sinclair Spectrum) or what, but I've become intrigued by the type of illustrations that surround fairies. These include everything you find in a wood especially mushrooms and toadstools.
Anyway, I have a large library of art books and whilst browsing through one of these I came across some paintings of fairies plus the said mushrooms and toadstools etc. The style was more towards illustration than realism and I thought it would make a good subject for my pyrography iron.
So I gave the composition a bit of thought and came up with the idea of having a fary sitting on a fly agaric mushroom. Those are the red ones with the white spots, so I thought it would look nice if I painted it after the pyrography work was complete. I also included my version of a large ink cap mushroom to provide a bit of balance in the composition.
However, at this point the image I was sketching still looked a bit lifeless so I drew lots of heart shaped leaves and joined them up with curving tendrils that would be pleasant on the eye. I was still missing something at the bottom of the image, so I decided to cover the foreground with fallen leaves. This was better, but the composition still lacked a focus point, so I had the idea of giving the fairy a mushroom to hold like it was an umbrella. It isn't raining in the picture, the fairy is using it to protect herself from the falling leaves.
My intention is to use one of my old water colour picture frames to frame the work when it is complete, so once the sketch was finished I re-sized it on my computer to make it the right size. I then printed it out and transferred the image to the wood I was going to use. All I had to do then was follow the lines with my pyrography iron. I took my time and made sure that I didn't have the pyrography iron too hot. It is much quicker to use a very hot iron, but it means that you get overburn spots in places and these look unsightly. I find it is better to work at a lower temperature and keep my lines as crisp as possible.
Now, you may not be impressed with my fairy and mushrooms at this point, but worry not a jot because this image has a long way to go. This I'm calling stage one, stage two is well on the way and will be posted in the next couple of days.
Friday, 16 November 2012
That being the case, I haven't got any new pyrography work to share with you. However, I do have a big treat for you. I may have been busy with other jobs but my wife has been creating yet another masterpiece, so I thought you might like to see that.
She only took to the pyrography iron a few months ago but she is fast becoming an expert. In fact, she's so good I think she would be better at writing this blog than me.
Anyway, I'll show you what she's been up to. We used to be avid visitors of stately homes and have always admired the fine paintings that adorned the walls. My wife was always drawn to those small, still life pictures that were favoured by Dutch artists and this is where she got the inspiration for her latest work.
It is a still life picture that she first burnt using her pyrography iron and then painted with watercolour paints. I think the effect is amazing.
Thursday, 8 November 2012
You may know that I have been doing a bit of personalised pyrography work. It all started after I did a plaque for a friend to commemorate his achievement of doing the Coast to Coast Footpath. I have done several others since and quite enjoyed doing them.
Doing personalised pyrography work is strange because one feels pressurised by the need to do a great job and it often means working to a deadline. There is a need for total concentration too because if I make a mistake it can be costly because the blank plaques cost almost £6 each. When I see the finished article though it makes it all worthwhile
Anyway, a lady from Linclonshire saw my Coast to Coast plaque on my website and asked me if I could do one for The Hadrian's Wall Path which she had walked with her father earlier in the year. She wanted the plaque for a birthday present for him. A lovely thought. The path follows Hadrian's wall across the north of England from Bowness on Solway in Cumbria to the aptly named Wallsend in Northhumberland.
At first, I found it difficult to find an icon that can be readily identified with Hadrian's Wall because one bit of stone wall looks pretty much the same as any other. Eventually, I settled on a drawing of Milecastle Gate and this became the centre piece of my design. I sent the lady a copy of my sketch which she approved and I then went ahead and did the pyrography work.
The lady who commissioned the plaque was very pleased when she received it and e-mailed me to say that it was perfect. In my book things don't get any better than perfect and a comment like that can work wonders for the soul.
Personalised pyrography can be quite exciting and I can hardly wait to see what commision comes in next. If you know anybody who has climbed Mount Everest, bagged his quota of Munroes, or skipped a light fandango across the Pennines, please give them my details.
Click here to go to my website
Friday, 2 November 2012
A couple of weeks ago I was in the loft and came across my little box of treasures. There wasn't any silver or gold in that little cardboard box, but what it did hold was still precious to me.
Now that I'm getting older I find that I spend more time looking backwards rather than to the future. I won't get all maudlin because hopefully I've got a few years left in me yet, but the past represents at least 75% of my life.
Anyway, I looked in the box and the memories came flooding back. A lot of them came from the time when I was a £10 pom who had been dragged off to Australia by my parents in 1967. Warm sunshine and golden sandy beaches, mixed with a few snakes and more poisonous spiders than you could shake a boomerang at. Ah I remember it so well.
I still had some letters from my first wife whom I met in Melbourne. Some photos including one of HMS Patris, the ship I returned to good old blighty on. There was also a set of worry beads that I picked up in Athens on the way back and my crossing the equator certificate. I missed the actual ceremony because I was sick with sunstroke and laid up in my cheap cabin way down in the bowels of the ship.There were lots of other small items in that box and I guess most other people have their own box of personal stuff.
Sorry if I've been a bit slow getting to the pyrography, but do you remember that job lot of boxes that I bought? Well I reckoned that memories should not have to put up with living in shoe boxes or biscuit tins.
Below is a box that I did some pyrography on, (actually my wife did most of it; I just gave it a few finishing touches) and I think it would do any body's memories justice.
While I'm doing letters with my pyrography iron, I often listen to Harry Chapin or Leonard Cohen on my mp3 player, they take me to another place and the rest of the world just doesn't exist.
My tip for doing letters are:
Do the outlines of the letters first then fill in the centres.
Use a spoon tip
You may find it easier to creep the iron along the wood by doing lots of small movements instead of trying to draw a long straight line.
Make sure your wrist is supported
At the moment I'm working on a commission and I'll tell you more about it in my next post.
Friday, 26 October 2012
I've finished another box so I thought I'd share it with you in this post. But, before we go there I'd like to tell you a little story.
Once upon a time, there was this little boy who grew up in a beautiful little village in England. He roamed the woods and fields and soon learnt the names of all the magnificent trees and could identify every bird that flew in that enchanted landscape. He was truly at home with nature.
He particularly liked the dragonflies that flitted around the reeds as he spent many an hour fishing beside a crystal clear stream. He thought these delightful little insects, with their metallic blue wings were great and he adored those dragonflies. However, this was a big mistake. The creatures he thought were dragonflies, were actually damselflies.
He was eighteen years old and fishing a small pool when a real dragonfly buzzed over his head and he nearly s**t himself. It took some time to come to terms with this creature, that was almost as big as a sparrow, and when he got home he looked it up in a book and realised his mistake.
I still have an aversion to dragonflies, but I still have a soft spot for damselflies and that is why I have used them in a couple of my designs.
If and when you start doing your own designs for pyrography, make sure you keep any rough sketches because they can be quickly adapted and used again somewhere else. Here is the original design for the dragon flies which I used on a round plaque.
Below you will find the box with the new damselfly design. I used a spoon tip in my pyrography iron and painted the damselflies with a special watercolour paint that gives the wings a lovely translucent sheen. Because I used a watercolour paint on it, I used spray varnish for the first of the three coats I gave it for protection. Then I gave the insides a nice covering of a deep red felt, just to finish it off.
Before we go I just thought I'd mention mistakes in pyrography. What do you do if you make a mistake with your pyrography iron?
Well, if it's a big mistake there isn't much you can do. I have been lucky enough on occasions to be able to blend the mistake into my work by changing the design or adding another element that wasn't there originally. If that isn't possible all you can do is use the piece of wood for practise.
If I make a small mistake with my pyrography iron, I can sometimes fix it with a craft knife. By using the blade as a scraper rather than a knife, it is possible, if the the burn isn't too big or too deep, to remove it. However, concentration and trying really hard not to make any mistakes is the best way forward with pyrography.
I am currently working on a box for precious memories and I will share that with you next time.
Wednesday, 17 October 2012
This post is about the first of three that I have been working on.
A few months ago my wife and I were having a little tour around the Peak District in Derbyshire when we came across a small shop/gallery in the heart of Tideswell. The village is lovely and a magnificent church provides a splendid focal point for visitors. The shop in question is more or less opposite the church and we popped in to see what was on offer. Now let me tell you that over the years I've popped into a lot of arty crafty shops and popped right out again just as quick. The reason for my rapid departure is that many of these shops are filled with over priced tat.
Anyway, I walked into the establishment mentioned with crossed fingers and an open mind. Well was I surprised; the place was bursting with with some fantastic pieces of art and was completely devoid of the afor mentioned tat.
Obviously the owner of the shop had impeccable taste, but not only that, everything was priced decently. As we walked around the shop it became obvious that there was a bit of a theme running with Hares. Hares are magical creatures and this shop boasted some fine examples and my wife declared a liking for them. So this was why I did a pyrography image on one of the 6 boxes.
How I went about it
For years my wife has had a wooden ornament of a running hare. It's a bit basic but the shape is there. So I used that as a model to draw the outline shape and then put some more details in from my imagination. I then scanned it into my computer and using Photo Shop Elements, I sized the image of the hare to suit the box. Then because I wanted two hares running side by side I copied and pasted the original hare then used the move tool to pick it up and position it a little way back from the original hare. I played about with the composition for a while until it looked pleasing. Then I printed it out and used wax free paper to transfer the two hares to the top of the box. Once that was done I used my pyrography iron, with a spoon tip, to burn in the outline. Once that was complete I carefully did the eyes and then the shading.
I think that pyrography comes to life at the shading in stage. Burning outlines is all well and good, but mastering the art of shading is what gives any pyrography work substance. I'm still working on the art of mastering it, but I'll stick at it because pyrography is like anything else. Success won't come easily, you have to practise.
If you are trying to get to grips with shading hares or anything else for that matter here are my tips.
1 Draw the item on paper first and shade it in. Your shading won't be right first time so rub the mistakes out and try again. You can't rub out the mistakes you make with a pyrography iron but you can rub out those drawn with a pencil.
2 Use the back of a spoon tip when shading and keep the temperature really low. Remember. Rushing when shading will result in disaster.
3 Keep your pyrography iron moving at all times. I find small circular motions are the best.
4 Get into the habit of blowing on your tip as you put it down onto the wood, that along with the low temperature I've already suggested will ensure you don't end up with deep burn marks where you don't want them.
I know you are dying to see it so here is the completed box.
By the way I have a request.
I like doing pyrography work on bowls, but I have a problem with my supplier. They are currently out of stock and it doesn't look as if they are going to order any more. Bummer, if you know where I can find some I,d love to hear from you.
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Although pyrography is relatively new to me, I've been doing artistic things all my life. In 1966 my mother gave me a painting by numbers set for Christmas and I enjoyed following the pattern and coming up with a piece of art work.
However, I had quite a bit of paint left over in those tiny little pots and wondered what I could do with it. Eventually, I cut a piece of cardboard out of the back of a corn flakes packet and drew on it, an oak tree with an eagle's nest and eagle flying out of it. I used the left over paints to colour it in and was amazed how good it was, and so were my family and friends.
I suppose I could've gone on to bigger and better things, but I was only fifteen at the time and a few weeks later my dad decided that we would all emigrate to Australia. So art went out the window as we prepared for a life down under. I couldn't take the eagle painting with me and it was snaffled up by a girl called Linda Davidson. If by chance your name is Linda and you lived in Bramall close Seighford, perhaps you could let me know what became of my first masterpiece.
Anyway, I eventually returned to England and years later when I tripped into my forties the art bug bit again. By the way, thanks for being patient because at last I'm getting to the gist of this story. Since 1992 I have been keeping my art pencils and pens in a pencil pouch. Every time I wanted a pencil I'd have to rummage about in the pouch to find the one that was right for the task at hand. Very frustrating it was too.
It took a long time, but the penny eventually dropped and I got a box for the job and now I can choose a pencil with ease. I have done a pyrography pattern on the front. Actually, I brought a job lot of boxes, well six to be exact and have been wondering what to do with them. Having done a pencil box for myself, I thought it might be worth personalising one or two. After all, if it made a great pencil box for me, then others might like to buy one. I think they'd make a cracking gift. Below is an example: of course it doesn't have to be a pencil box, the wording can be changed to nick-nacks or anything the customer requires.
For those who are interested, here's how I created it.
I drew the left and side of the pattern of leaves by hand concentrating mostly on creating pleasing curves. Then I scanned it into my computer and copy and pasted it. Then I used the move tool to move and flip the top layer through 180 degrees and this gave me a perfect mirror image.
Then I printed it off and used wax free paper to transfer the design to the top of the box. The pyrography work was all done with a spoon tip and was painstaking yet enjoyable. 100 percent concentration was required on the lettering because mistakes cannot be changed. If I made a mistake on the leaves design I could always modify it to suit, but with letters it is almost impossible.
After the pyrography work was completed, I varnished the box and then my wife put a layer of felt on the bottom inside and out, and another layer inside the lid.
I am busy at the moment working another couple of these boxes and will be pleased to show you them in my next post.
Monday, 1 October 2012
Some die hard pyrographers would sooner have their wisdom teeth put back in than use colour on their pyrography work. Personally, I like to keep an open mind; if I think my pyrography will be improved by some colour then I will use it.
Generally, you should plan up front about using colour because just slapping a bit of paint onto a piece of pyrography work is liable to make it worse not better. You also need to be careful when using colour because if not used properly it can take the essence out of your pyrography work and make it look like something from a child's colouring book.
Having said all that, here are the mediums I sometimes use on my pyrography:
Watercolour paint and pencils.
Wax based pencils
I generally use water colour paint and pencils where the subject matter is delicate or needs to have a subtle blending of tones. In the round plaque pictured below you can see how I used water colour paint on the damsel flies to bring the work to life. I also considered painting the reeds green, but thought this would detract from the image so I shaded them in with my pyrography iron.
Here's a tip when it comes to varnishing any pyrography to which you have applied water colour paint, pencils or wax based pencils. Use a spray based varnish for the first coat because if you don't, that lovely bit of blending you've just done will be spread all over your wood. I find that once the spray varnish is dry I can apply further layers of varnish with a brush. Where possible I prefer to apply varnish with a brush because it gives me more control and it's a hell of a lot cheaper.
If the subject of my pyrography requires a bit of strong colour, I will use acrylic paint. I like to use a coat of white acrlic gesso as an undercoat first because this allows any colour that is applied over the top to really shine through. There is no need to worry about acrylics smudging when you vanish over them because they are very tough. Acrylic paint also ruins brushes very quickly. Keep a big container of water handy and rinse the brush you are using every couple of minutes. If you don't you will soon find that it will be more use as a potato dibber.
Here is a platter that my wife did. The clematis was crying out for some strong colour so she gave it a nice coat of purple acrylic.
I haven't mentioned coloured wood dyes because I haven't tried them yet. I've seen them advertised in a magazine and will probably give them a go at some stage but for now I have all the colour I need. If you've tried wood dyes, I would be interested to know how you got on.
In my next post I will show you how I got on doing some pyrography on a big pencil box.
Friday, 21 September 2012
I've been doing pyrography now for almost 18 months and I thought I'd tell you what I've learnt about finishes. Lots of money can be wasted on finding the right finish for pyrography so here's how I got on.
When I started doing pyrography, I did a bit of research and bought three books on the subject in an effort to give me a good grounding. I did some of the exercises in the books and followed the advice of the authors wherever possible. When it came to finishes, Danish Oil was what they recommended, because it is colourless and they said that it would bring out the beauty in my pyrography work.
It was a bit on the expensive side, so I purchased the smallest can I could get and gave it a try. I tried it on a book marker that I'd done some grasses on and I was disappointed. I paid about £14 for that tin of Danish Oil and about £13.95 worth of it is still left in the tin.
I like my workspace and I'm not taking the risk of having it burnt down to the ground because I forgot to flatten out a piece of oily cloth.
Another oil that I tried was chopping board oil. When I started pyrography I, like many others, went down the kitchenware route. I burnt patterns onto wooden spoons, egg cups, and chopping boards etc. These items need to be finished with chopping board oil because it is safe for items that come into contact with food. I still have most of that left in a tin too because I've stopped doing kitchenware items, and to be honest the finish wasn't anything to write home about. One of my chopping boards can be seen below.
Anyway, after giving up on the oils I decided to give good old-fashioned varnish a chance to shine and when compared with the oils I was very impressed. It dries quickly, gives a really nice glossy finish and it protects my pyrography work. I don't know if it is just me, but people seem to have got very snobby over the use of varnish. They seem to think that it's just something that sailors use to coat the bottom of their Yachts. My advice would be give it a try a see the results for yourself.
I use Ronseal quick drying gloss varnish, which dries in 1 hour, so my usual three coats can be done in half a day. The brush I use can be cleaned easily with soap and water so no nasty chemicals are involved. If you want your work to really shine, give your work a light sanding with some fine sandpaper before you apply the last coat.
You can get Ronseal varnish in various shades and besides the clear gloss I also use light oak where my wood needs to be warmed up a bit. I wouldn't go any darker than light oak because if you do it will cancel out some of your pyrography work.
Here are some tips about the use of varnish.
Work quickly and always brush it on in the same direction as the grain on the wood.
I apply several thin coats rather than a couple of thick ones.
Lastly, before you put the lid back on the can, take a piece of kitchen towel and wipe any varnish off the lid and from around the rim on the tin. The reason for this is because if you don't, the next time you open the tin, little bits of dried up varnish will drop into your tin and these will be transferred onto your work. The net result is that you will have to chuck the tin away before you have used half of it, due to it being full of bits. I know this is true because it happened to me. At £8 for a small tin chucking any of it away seems like a daft option, but there again I've always been as tight as a drum skin.
In my next post, I'll explain my use of colour. Why use it at all and when do acrylics give better results than watercolours.
Friday, 14 September 2012
Following on from my last post, the next thing I did was darken the background. It needed to be dark to create the right contrast with the daisies, which I will be painting white and yellow.
Shading in the background can be difficult especially if you try to go too dark too quickly. Also you will find that when you go around the edges of the flowers you will have to take your time. The trouble with taking your time with pyrography means that you will get a very dark burn and a dark black line around the flowers which looks ugly.
To overcome this issue, I turn the heat down on the pyrography iron and work quickly around the flowers. I also try not to go in straight lines when doing the shading because this produces straight dark lines which don't look right.
I do the shading by burning in a circular motion and vary the speed at which I move my pyrography iron. By doing this I can give the wood a mottled effect that gives the flowers a nice background. It took me quite a while to burn my way around all the flowers and fill in the rest of the blank wood, but like I said in my last post, I find it quite therapeutic. Below is the box after I'd burnt in the background.
Once the petals were done, I also gave the centres a coat of white acrylic. I would later paint them yellow, but I find that if I use an undercoat of white first, it helps the colour to shine through.
When you are using a pyrography iron or paint brush on an odd shaped thing like a box, it is easy to get the wobbles. So I use a couple of blocks of wood to rest my hand on while doing the work. If you haven't got wooden blocks just stack up a few books and rest your hand on them.
Despite being as precise as possible when doing the painting, I find that I make the odd mistake and go over the odd pyrography line on the petals. We're all human and it doesn't matter because I just wait until the paint is dry and burn the line in again. This needs to be done quickly or you will find that the white paint soon becomes brown and I've never seen a daisy with brown petals.
At this time I will also touch up a few of the petals by giving them another layer of white paint and then paint the centres yellow.
Once that was done, I gave the whole thing 3 separate coats of clear gloss varnish.
Lastly I stuck a layer of felt on the bottom of the box, both inside and out, and also put a layer inside the lid. Here is the finished box. I think it looks great and I had a relaxing time whilst doing it.
By the way, all of the pyrography work done on this box, was done with a spoon tip. In fact I rarely use anything else.
Thursday, 6 September 2012
Those of you who have been following this blog will know that I have done a few small round trinket boxes but this is my first rectangular jobbie.
I was going to use my pyrography iron to burn a tree, some mushrooms and a fairy into it, but decided it was too small for such an intricate image. After soul searching through the image banks in my mind I came up with a daisy pattern. This would suit me because it would be simple to draw and the pyrography work would be therapeutic in its simplicity. Here is a photo of the box after I had drawn the daisies on it with a pencil.
Sunday, 2 September 2012
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Normal pyrography stuff will be resumed in my next post.
Tuesday, 28 August 2012
I mentioned a few months ago that I never intended going down the personalisation route with my pyrography, but I succumbed when a friend ask me to do a plaque for him. Some years earlier he'd walked the Coast To Coast footpath and wanted a plaque personalised with pyrography to commemorate the occasion. Anyway, I did a design that he liked and burnt him the plaque. I was pleased with the result and advertised this new service on my pyrography website, but didn't really expect much of a response.
Anyway, I like to make people happy, so I have done another design for the Pembrokeshire Coastal path which runs for 186 miles between Amroth and St Dogmaels. I like this part of the world and have taken my holidays there quite often. This made it easy to come up with some icons to represent the area. First, I did the old lifeboat station at Tenby which I am sure sticks in the minds of many walkers. However, I guess the star attraction is the magnificent St David's Cathedral that I can remember visiting on a warm September day a few years ago. I also remember walking along the coast to see the ancient stones of Carreg Samson, so I included that as well.
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
I don't know what is happening to time this summer, but it seems to me that it's going at a fair old gallop. I've been so busy with writing, rearranging furniture in the house and trying to tame our jungle of a garden that pyrography has taken a back seat. And by that I mean I haven't had a chance to burn a thing. In fact, I haven't even switched my pyrography iron on. However, my wife Terry Anne has managed to scorch a few bits. I try not to be jealous of her work or the fact that she has more free time, but sometimes it does give me the Gype. Below are a couple of classy candlesticks she finished last week.
Breathing in the fumes that come off a pyrography iron isn't good. I know it is only wood, but they contain all sorts of resins. Turpentine, for instance, comes from the sap of pine trees and you wouldn't want to inhale the burning fumes from that would you.
When I first started using my pyrography iron I ignored the fumes, but eventually, common sense kicked in and I opened a window. Not much I know, but it was a start. The trouble with opening windows is that it lets in a lot of dreadful noises from the outside world and rain. So unless I wanted to confine my pyrography to fine days another solution was needed.
After a rethink, I tried using a fan to blow the fumes away. This was partly successful; it blew the fumes away from my face face, but eventually, unless the windows were open as well, the fumes filled my room.
By this time my wife was getting very concerned about the effects of the smoke on my health. She'd seen me go down with a heart attack that was partly due to me being a smoker and she didn't want a repeat of that episode. So I started to look around and see what was on the market and my initial search wasn't good. The only fume extractors I could find for pyrography were very expensive. In fact, they cost a lot more than my pyrography iron. So what you might say, your health should come first. Well perhaps it should, but you wouldn't expect a TT rider's helmet to cost more that his motor bike would you?
Those who know me will know that I don't like parting with wads of cash, so I carried on searching and eventually had a brainwave. I used to work in the electronics industry and a few years ago new legislation was brought in whereby soldering irons had to be fitted with a fume extractors. If I could find an extractor that removed solder fumes then surely it would remove the fumes from wood smoke. After a lot of searching I found one at Maplins that cost £19.99. It now sits on my desk and removes all the smoke and nasty fumes from my work. It has carbon activated filter, so if it works for soldering iron fumes should also work for wood. Below is a photo of the extractor.
Important note: this is my opinion only and not based on evidence. I suggest to weigh up the pros and cons for yourself before making any decisions about filters. One thing is for sure, you must take precaution against breathing in any smoke.
Just a little note before I finish. My wife has given me permission to sell one or two of her items on my website, they will not be available through Folksy.
Saturday, 11 August 2012
I was very pleased with the results, but thought that it could still be improved. I'd taken care when shading the leaves to follow the growth pattern and concentrated the dark tones towards the centre of the leaves where they would be the thickest. I have also tried to make sure that where leaves overlap that I have positioned dark against light.
When doing a piece like this, I find it useful to do all of the line work first. When I'm happy with that, then I will start the shading process. I do the shading on just one leaf to begin with and only when I'm happy with that will do the rest.
When burning, decide where your darkest mark is going to be and put your pyrography iron down on that spot. If you don't want a dark mark where you are putting the iron down, there is a simple solution. Just blow on the tip as you lower it onto the wood; this will cool the tip down just enough to avoid a dark mark. When blowing, keep your lips well away from the hot tip. Kissing a pyrography iron is not a good thing.
Anyway, I decided that although I'd done a good job with the pyrography iron, this image needed a little extra. With this in mind, I decided to paint the leaves with a single coat of light oak varnish just to give them a little boost. I didn't want to overdo the effect because I think that once pyrography starts to get towards the gaudy end of good taste, its charm vanishes. Once the coat of oak varnish was dry, I gave the whole thing three further coats of clear varnish just to give it, what I call, that luxurious look.The bottom of the dish was then covered in a layer of brown felt which really does finish the job off.
I know some people don't like any colour in their pyrography , so I would be interested in knowing which dish you prefer.
I mentioned in an earlier post that safety is an issue when doing pyrography because of the smoke that comes off the wood during the burning process. I have been trying out a solution for a couple of weeks and think I've found the answer to the problem without throwing a shed load of cash at it. In my next post I will reveal all.
Thursday, 2 August 2012
I said in my last pyrography post that I would show you the finished dish with the chestnut leaves. Sorry, but that will have to wait a couple of days. I've been up to my neck sorting out stuff with my books and, seeing as writing is my main revenue stream, it needs to come first.
My wife, Terry Anne is also being kept very busy with our new puppy called Daisy, but she has managed to do a little pyrography work between toilet training and walkies. So, to bridge the gap I thought I'd show you some photos of her latest pyrography creation.
Saturday, 21 July 2012
Commisions are strange, one minute you are doing your own thing and then all of a sudden life changes. You are no longer in charge of what you are doing and are working for somebody else. It's a bit like working in a factory but with out the journey.
Don't get me wrong, I like doing commisions because they help pay the bills but I wouldn't want to do them full time. I don't mind doing pyrography to order but deadlines can be quite daunting. Anyway, they are completed now and I should be able to get on and burn the leaves. Here is the sketch.
Sunday, 8 July 2012
In my last post, I mentioned that my wife had seen the pleasure I was getting from my pyrography and she decided that she was going to have a go herself. I also said I would show her efforts in this blog so I have dedicated this post to her work.
After doing a bit of pyrography on a bit of old scrapwood, she decided to take the plunge and do a Laburnum design on a chopping board. To say she was pleased with her effort would be an understatement because she was absolutely thrilled. Mind you, I did teach her well (he said with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek). Anyway, she was very pleased except for one thing, she was missing the colour that she normally has in her artwork.
Again she was happy with the results and threw herself into doing a clematis on a wooden platter.
Considering that she hasn't done any pryrography before I think that what she has achieved is excellent and I will have to watch out or she will be overtaking me.
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Below you can see the finished product and I'm very pleased with the way it turned out.
In the next step, it would be easy to just paint the body of the damselfly blue. However, if I did that, the colour would appear very flat. To avoid that and get the colour to shine, I always use a little white gesso for undercoat. Once that was dry, I could then paint over it with a blue acrylic. Unfortuatly, the computer based image doesn't do justice to how it looks in real life, but we shouldn't moan too much because the technology is brillliant.
The last thing I did was give the whole thing 3 coats of varnish for protection and to enhance the work.
A word of warning here; if you are going to use water colour in any of your pyrography projects.Varnish comes in two versions; one is liquid in a tin that needs to be applied with a brush and the second comes in a spray can. When you use watercolor paints, always use spray varnish because if you don't the paint will smudge when you brush the varnish on. And you don't want that I can assure you.
Now then, those who have followed my posts will already know that my other half is very artistic and pretty damn crafty. She has done some beautiful paintings which you can see by clicking on the following link http://www.nosam45.freeserve.co.uk/. She has also made some classy cards and decorated some fantastic boxes. However, having seen me burning away quite contentedly, with my pyrography iron, she decided she wanted to have a go.
In my next post I will show you how she got on.
Tuesday, 19 June 2012
I have had a design rumbling about in my head for a while, so I decided I'd get it out of my system by burning it into some wood with my pyrography iron.
I also had some spare plaques that I have been using to make table centre pieces so I thought I would do the pyrography on one of them. Doing round designs is fun because you have to ensure that the image looks good from all sides.
Anyway, the pyrography design I had in my mind was of some damselflies and some reeds.
Step 1 I started by drawing around the outside of the plaque to give me the correct size.
Step 2 I drew two damselflies; one with the wings open and one with them shut. See the picture below.
Step 4 I cut and pasted all three damselflies. This gave time the ability to be able to move them about and position them anywhere I liked on the drawing by using the 'move' tool.
Step 5 When that was done, I printed a copy off and drew in some reeds.
Step 6 Once I was happy with the position of the reeds and, the composition as a whole, I scanned the image again. See below.
If you would like to see some more of my pyrography work please follow this link http://www.shirewriting.co.uk/
If you wold like to find out more about my books please follow this link http://www.georgefmason.co.uk/
Wednesday, 13 June 2012
In the end, I settled for an Iris flower. This would have to be mutiplied beause it would need to look good from each side of the table.
1) The first thing I did was to measure the size of the plaque so that I knew how big to draw my iris. It happened to be 170mm diameter.
2) I did a drawing of an iris and, because I didn't want the images of the flowers to be touching in the middle, I made it about 80mm tall.
3) Next, I scanned the drawing of the iris into my computer using photoshop elements.
4) Then I increased the size of my canvas to 170mm. It is important here to note that you are increasing the size of the canvas and not the size of the image. Also you need to make sure that your original image is anchored in the bottom centre of the canvas.
5) I selected my Iris and then cut and pasted it three times. Then I used the 'move tool' to position and orientate the image.
6) I printed off a copy of the image and transferred it, using Tracedown paper, to my plaque.
7) Using my pyrography iron, I then burnt in the outline of each flower and then did the shading. It is the actual shading that gives the flower some form, so this needs to be done with care. Always start your pyrography iron off where you want your darkest mark to be, and move your tip in the direction of the flower's growth. This makes it look natural. I use a medium heat setting and spoon tip for this sort of work.
8) Once the flowers were completed, I drew some reeds onto the plaque with a pencil and then burnt them in with the pyrography iron.
9) Once the pyrography work was complete it was given three coats of lacquer to protect the wood and give the finish a rich look.
10) To finish the item off completely a nice piece of felt was glued to the bottom.Below you can see the finished result. I like it and think that it would look good in the centre of anybody's table or leaning on a dresser.
I hope you were able to follow the steps I went through here because they form the basis for most of my work. If you have any questions I would be pleased to try and answer them. If you can't be bothered with photoshop, but would like to try this project for yourself, please feel free to take a copy of my design. As long as you only use it for your own pleasure and not commercial production I don't mind. In fact, it would be nice if you could send me a photo of anything you produce.
If you would like to see some more of my pyropgraphy work Please click here.
If you would like to find out more about me or my books please click here.
Thursday, 7 June 2012
Sorry this post is a bit late, but I've been busy working on my next book. However, I have had a short break and managed to get the pyrography iron out. Because I wanted to get a quick result I decided to have a go at a trinket pot.
I love these little pots because they look great, even before they have been worked on. Anyway, a few months ago I did one of these pots with a daisy design on it and it looked really good. In fact, it sold almost as quickly as I put it on the Folksy.com website. So I decided to do another.
I drew the daises on the pot - three on the lid and four on the sides - by hand. Then I burnt them in with my pyrography iron. Once that was done, I used my pyrography iron to follow the grain of the wood to enhance it. When this was complete, I used the iron to shade in some areas of the pot to darken it and give it a rich look. I took particular care to darken the wood around the daisies because they would be painted white and the contrast would make them stand out. If you want your pyrography design to be successful, it is important to put light next to dark and vice versa.
Once I'd finished the pyrography part, I painted the petals of the daisies with acrylic paint. White for the petals and yellow for the centres. Once dry I gave the whole thing three coats of lacquer and my wife covered the base inside and out with a nice dark brown felt.
The finished item can be seen below.
There is very little profit to be had in doing one of these small pots because I sell them very cheaply. However, I do get a lot of satisfaction from creating something nice. It isn't all about the money, if I didn't get any satisafaction I wouldn't bother getting my pyrography iron out.
For my next project I'm going to have a go at an Iris pattern for another table centre piece. Hopefully it will be finished before my next post.If you are interested in finding out more about my pyrography or see some more of my work please click here If you would like to find out about my books please click here