Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Pyrography Fairy

Hi All,
 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.
Anyway, in my last post I said that it looked a bit lifeless and that it needed to be brought to life. Well hopefully, I have done that through the use of what I call contours. They are the lines that join places of equal height on a map and are similar to the swirls that are seen on a weather map especially when there is lots of low pressure about.
In actual fact, the idea to use these contour lines came from the need to add an extra dimension to some trinket pots that I used to do. If you look at the picture below you can see that I have followed the natural grain of the wood and it produces a lovely effect.
I could have followed the grain of the wood on my fairy picture, but there was one problem. The grain in the fairy picture was horizontal and that wouldn't have the right effect because I wanted the contours to create an impression of growth like trees.
So the only thing I could do was make it up. I took my pencil and drew hundreds of lines on the picture and then burnt them in with my pyrography iron.This was a painstaking piece of work literally because it gave my carpal tunnel syndrome some gyp. I had to have frequent breaks but that wasn't too bad because I got a bit more work done on my next book. By the way, all the pyrography work in this picture was done with a spoon tip. Below is a picture of the fairy with the contour lines included. I think it is a great improvement.
It had always been my intention to paint some of the items in the picture with watercolour paints. I'm going to start with the mushrooms and the fairy and then see how it looks. I know that some pyrography purists don't like to use paint on their pyrography work, but hell, life's to short too be bound by barriers of you own making. It is the image that counts so why shouldn't paint be used if it improves your pyrography creation.
The painting process is underway and you can judge whether or not it improves this picture in my next post. Meanwhile, if you have any thoughts on using paint in pyrography I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Away with the Fairies

Hi All,
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

Pyrography In Full Colour

Hi, I don't know if it's the the shorter days,  but time seems to be flying. I've been so busy trying to get another book ready for publishing that I have neglected my pyrography. In fact, I haven't picked my pyrography iron up for nearly two weeks.

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.
The pyrography and the water colour paints seems to work together really well and the colours just zing out. The other good thing about doing this type of picture with pyrography is that it doen't need glass. This means that the picture can be seen from any angle because there are no reflections from other windows, the light or the telly. I know you can get non reflective glass, but I find that it makes it like you're viewing something through a cludgy window.
Regarding my own pyrography work, I have just started on a new design which is a bit of a change of direction for me and I'm very excited about it. In my next post I will show you the design and the pyrography in progress.
Just one last thing before I leave this post. You are probably aware that beside doing pyrography I am also an author. If any of you have a kindle you might like to know that I have a free book promotion running until Midnight on Saturday 17th of November. If you would like a free copy of my book, "No Fishing In Here: Just Short Stories please click on the link below.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Hadrians Wall

Hi All,
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.
There is a lot of text on the plaque and I was pleased when that part of the pyrography was done. I mentioned in my last post that the best way to do text is to do the outline first and then fill in the centre. Use a short stabbing action with the point of a spoon tip instead of trying to shade the letters in.That is the method I always use and it works very well for me. Getting the curve of the text can also be quite tricky and if it wasn't for my computer I think I would find it impossible.

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

Precious Memories

Hi all,
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.

Doing letters in pyrography can be tedious but at the same time strangely therapeutic. You have to be accurate when doing letters because there is no room for error, but having said that, you don't have to think about anything clever either.

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.