Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Pemrokeshire Plaque

Hi All,
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.
Perhaps you can imagine my surprise when I did get enquires from walkers who liked it and wanted to order one. In fact, the last order I took was from a lady in the Netherlands who wanted one for herself and another for her friend. She was very pleased.

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.
Hopefully, this will also strike a chord with any walkers who have undergone this magnificent achievement. The above is a sketch of how I expect the plaque to look once I have attacked it with my pyrography iron. I will be charging £25 for each plaque, which when you consider the cost of the blank plaque and the time it takes, is good value for money.
Special Offer
Because I don't want to waste time and effort burning a plaque with a false name on it, I am offering to do the first one in the series for half price. So if you know anybody who has completed this challenge please let them know about it. Once burnt, a photo of the plaque with their name on it will be glorified on my website for all to see and their achievement to be admired. If you would like to see large versions of the plaques, which measure 10 inches by 6 inches please visit my website.
In my next pyrography post I will be doing a small chest trinket box and I will take you through it step by step.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Pyrography Fume Extraction

Hi all,
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.
While all I could manage was to smell the wood burning under the caress of her pyrography iron, she then went on to do a set of four egg cups. Very nice too don't you think.
Talking about the smell of wood burning, I mentioned in my last two posts that I'd tell you about a health and safety issue that comes with pyrography, and what I have done about it.

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

Pyrography Chestnut Leaves

In my last post I said I'd show you the chestnut leaves that I was burning onto a shallow dish. Below you will find a photo of the dish after the pyrography piece was completed.

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

Biccy Barrel

Hi all,
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.

I'm not sure if it is a wooden sweetie jar or a biccy barrel, but she has done a brilliant job on it.
In my next post I will show you the chestnut leaves and tell you about a safety issue which surrounds pyrography.

I mentioned earlier about my books. If any of you have an electronic reader I am giving one of my books away completely free at the moment. It contains 12 of my short stories and hopefully you will find them very entertaining. If you would like a copy, just click on the My Books tab at the top of this page.
I'll leave you with a final view of the barrel.