Saturday, 29 December 2012

Pyrography Boat

Hi all,
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


Hi all,
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.

When I look at this picture it brings back a memory that I have of Christmas when I was a young lad growing up in the Staffordshire countryside. Unfortunately, it isn't what you would call a good a good memory.

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

Memories Box

Hi All,
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.
I'm afraid the photo on this post doesn't do it justice, not least because of my poor camera work. Bright sunlight usually makes photos better because exposure is quicker and that makes photos clearer, but in this case it put a nasty sheen over the work.

If you look closely you can see that the image is of a tree, with  various toys and the word
'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

Pyrography Fairy Done

Hi all,
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.

I've put it into a frame because I think that a frame always makes a picture look better. There isn't any glass covering the picture because it has had several coats of varnish to protect it and, like I mentioned in a previous post, glass ruins some pictures because it gives off reflections.
Having finished the picture, I will be honest and say that it isn't as spectacular as I once thought it was going to be. I am sure that some artists will sympathise with me because they must suffer the same plight. Rarely does a piece turn out exactly as was envisaged at the time of conception.
Anyway, seeing a picture complete allows me to analyse the pyrography  and see what works and what doesn't. It also gives me a chance to modify the picture for a future pyrography project. In this case I think it would be better if the whole of the mushroom the Fairy is sitting on was visible. I would have also changed the foreground and not used the leaves. Once those were in place it set the tone for the colours, leaves on the floor means Autumn so they had to be brown/orange. Green leaves would probably look much better on the leaves that were still hanging because they would show up better against the brown pyrography background.
I guess I'm being over critical, but there again if one doesn't recognise where one can improve one isn't going to get any better. If any fairy lovers are interested in buying the picture I will be putting it up for sale at a reasonable price in my shop on Just click on the Folksy logo.
I'm not sure what my next project will be because I'm busy working on my books and my wife is using me for a Christmas slave, putting up lights, decorations and the like. Having said that, I'm sure I'll have the pyrography iron out again soon and something to report in a few days.