Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Finished Butterfly Bowl

Hi All, In my last post I showed you how I did an outline of a pyrography image on a bowl. (Pictured below.)
This was the easy bit. Now, believe it or not but some people who do pyrography stop there. However, by doing so they are missing out on the most exciting part of creating a piece of pyrography. To me the most important part of the pyrography process is not the outline, but the 'shading in' process. You could of course just take your pyrography iron and start shading in your piece of work without much thought, but that would not lead to the best result. You need to think ahead, so here is how I go about the process. Firstly, I look for the darkest areas of the image. In the case of the one above it will be the blackberries and the darker parts of the butterflies. So this is where I start; I use my iron on a medium to high temperature setting and burn in the fruits and the darkest part of the butterflies. This establishes the darkest tones of the pyrography piece. Yo can see the dark berries on the photo above. Now all I have to do is shade in the leaves and stems. However, care must be taken here if you are to finish up with a good result. The leaves need to stand out against the plain light background of the bowl, but take care because, if the shading is made too dark it will weaken the impact of the butterflies. I turn the temperature down when 'shading in' and take my time. Always remember when you are doing pyrography that you can't rub your mistakes out and, if you burn a piece of your work to a tone that is too dark, you are stuck with it. So, when you are 'shading in' always try to maximise the contrast in tones. If the edge of the leaf you are shading is against a plain piece of bowl you can make it darker. The same is true if you are coming up against a light part of a butterfly. However, where a leaf comes up against the dark part of a butterfly you need to make sure the shading is much lighter in tone. Tips Make sure that the direction of pyrography burn is natural and in line with with the subject matter. For instance, you will notice that the shading marks on the butterflies' wings spread out in a fan shape from the butterflies' body. This makes it look natural; if I'd done the 'shading in' from top to bottom it would have ruined the piece. The same can be said with the leaves. The direction of pyrography burn should follow what you think will depict the natural growth of each leaf. Also remember that the point where your pyrography iron tip first touches the wood will be the darkest spot because the heat of the iron hasn't had time to dissipate yet. So always put your tip down where you want the darkest part of the burn to be. Take your time with the shading and you will get a feel for the whole process. Eventually you will find that you are changing your speed of movement to bring about those subtle changes in shade that can turn an alright piece of pyrography into something to be proud of. Below you can see my finished bowl.
I like this piece of work, it is much better than Olly the Owl that's for sure. Sorry it's not for sale because my wife thrust a twenty pound note at me as soon as she saw it. Speaking of my wife, she has been too busy galivanting to get the brushes out and fix Olly for me, but the day will come and I'll keep you posted. If you would like to see some more of my pyrography work please click here. If you would like to find out more about me and my books pleas click here. Finally if you have any questions about pyrography or my books please let me know.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Butterflies and Brambles

Hi all
Having spent a couple of weeks creating Olly the Owl and getting little satisfaction from it, I thought I'd do something a little more intricate.
Here is how I went about it.
First,I did a rough sketch of some butterflies and blackberries and then scanned it into my computer. I then worked on it digitally until I arrived at an image that I think is pleasing.
The next step was to re size the image to fit the bowl that I was going to use for the pyrography. Once that was done I used trace down paper to transfer some of the image onto the bowl. I don't bother doing it completely because it becomes too time consuming. Once I have some of the main reference points in place I find that I can put the detail in with my pyrography iron. If you look at the image below you will see that all of the outline work has been completed and I have established the darkest tones on the berries.Whilst I'm at the outline stage of the image, I also have a major decision to make. Should I use the pyrography iron to shade in the various tone or should I use paint to create some colour within the subject. This decision is always a hard one and you will have to use your own judgement.
In this case I will not be using any colour; I'll let the pyrography iron do its stuff.Having made that decision, I will use the pyrography iron to shade in the image by using a range of tones. Leaving the pyrography iron in one place for a longer amount of time will obviously produce a darker tone. The same affect can of course be achieved by turning up the heat control on the pyrography iron. I tend to favour the former because I believe it gives me more control and I am able to produce a wider range of tones with this method.
In my next post you will be able to see the finished result. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hope it turns out better than the owl. By the way, if you are wondering how Olly is getting on; my wife hasn't got her brushes out yet.
If you would like to see more of my pyrography work please click here.
If you would like to buys some at discounted prices from my shop at folksy.com

Finally if you want to find out more about me, my books or other writing, please visit my main website which can be found here.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Olly the Owl

Hi All,
Have you ever been to the hairdressers and after having explained clearly the haircut you wanted, you came out with something completely different. Well if you have, you will know how I felt when I finished my latest pyrography creation. Up until now almost everything I have done regarding pyrography has turned out more or less to plan. However, my latest effort looks nothing like the image I had in my mind when I started. To make matters worse, this item wasn't something that I knocked up in five minutes, several hours went into it. You can see Olly on the right.
When I started Olly, the vision I had in my head was of an owl peering out of the hole in a tree. The idea was based on a photograph of an owl that I took at the Argyll Zoo, near Inveraray in Scotland. Once I'd drawn the image I coloured it in with Derwent coloursoft pencils. These are lovely to work with and I thought I would be able to blend in a lot of colours. That was a mistake; wood is not a good surface for more than two layers of pencil. There simply isn't enough tooth in the wood to accommodate the number of layers I would need. Perhaps I should have sanded the wood down again and made a fresh start but I fooled myself into thinking it was good enough.

The next step was to burn in the bark. My plan at this stage was to try and make it look as realistic as possible. However, the time it took to complete just a small area of bark was ridiculous and, seeing as I had no confidence in the owl, I compromised and came up with a stylised bark design. It's funny really because when my wife eventually managed to stop laughing at my owl she said she really liked the bark.

Still it wasn't all waste; all pyrography is therapy so at least I was relaxed while I was burning it. Luckily for me, there is still hope on the horizon for Olly the Owl. My wife reckons she knows what is wrong with him and she is going to paint over him using acrylic paints. It might take a couple of weeks before she picks up her brushes and gets on with it, but I promise to show you the results when she has finished.
The moral of the story is; enjoy doing your pyrography and if it comes out great, treat it as a bonus.
I would be interested to hear what you think of Olly the Owl, so if you have any comments or any other questions about pyrography, please let me know.
To see more of my pyrography please click here,
or to visit my discount pyrography shop on Folksy.com please click here.
Finally,if you would like to know more about me and my books please click here.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Sourcing Images

Hi All,
Having described in my last post how I create images, I thought it might be useful to explain where I get my images from in the first place.
One thing you shouldn't do is infringe another person's copyright. The leaves on the clock pictured left are entirely my own creation and that is what we should all be striving to do when creating pyrography pieces.

Being an artist and author myself I can tell you now that I would take a very dim view of anybody copying my work, especially if they tried to pass it off as their own. Where possible I always try to work from my own sketches or my own photographs. By doing this I don't have to worry about copyright infringements because everything I create is my own.

When I first started doing some pyrography I bought a popular book on the subject and started going through the exercises in the book. Most of my efforts turned out well and, as I progressed, I created a very nice piece that was based on one of the exercises in the book. Being like most artists, I like to show off my work and thought it would look nice on my art website amongst some of my paintings. However, being wary of copyright infringement I found the e-mail address of the publisher at the front of the book and sought permission to display the work on my website. I thought I'd get an e-mail back in a couple of days saying go ahead. After all I thought it would be good publicity for their book. How silly was I, it took no less than three months to get an answer and, although it was yes, it came with the following conditions.
I could display the work on 1 website only
I must not offer the work for sale
I must acknowledge the author of the book
I must mention the publisher
I must provide them with half a pint of blood. (Only joking but you get my drift)
Anyway, after this experience I decided to concentrate on my own images. Having said that, there are some images that you can copy from anywhere and I doubt anybody will know where the original came from. Images of butterflies, birds and flowers for instance are so common and available that nobody would know where you got the image from.Take the Peacock butterfly that I did on the book marker on the right. It is copied from one of my own photos but you will find images in books and on the Internet that could all provide the same source. By the time you've burnt it into a bit of wood with your pyrography iron, who on earth is going to know where it came from?

I would advise anyone who is taking up pyrography to take lots of photographs and use them for the basis of their work. Sometimes my wife and I take our sketch books with us when we drive out into the countryside. We pick some interesting wild flowers and then sketch them. I also keep a small sketch book in the car and when my wife pops into a shop for something quick (For quick, read at least 20minutes)I get out my pencil and do some sketching of trees or whatever other bits of flora and fauna are available. On the left you can see a bookmarker that was based on a birch twig that I sketched whilst my wife had popped into a shop. The eagle eyed amongst you might notice that I burnt the word Beech into it, well we can all make mistakes and it is an unfortunate thing about pyrography. You need to be careful because you can't rub them out or paint them over.

You will find that using your own photos or sketches will enhance your feeling of achievement.

The latest Item I have been working on seems to have been taking me forever, but it is finally coming to an end. I will share it with you in my next post.
If you would like to see some of my pyrography please click here
Information about me and my books can be found here