Friday, 25 January 2013

The Pennine Way

Hi All, it's nice, after completing the mega task that I got involved with recently, to do some pyrography on a smaller scale. This week I have managed to complete a pyrography project in the same week that I started it and that's great.

I chose to do another personalised plaque. This one is to commemorate the walking of The Pennine Way, which apparently, is the most popular footpath in the United Kingdom. It stretches from Edale, in the Derbyshire Area of the Peak District to Kirk Yetholm in Southern Scotland. The path is 270 miles long and follows a beautiful, but equally lonely route along the backbone of England.

In recent years I have become envious of the people who are able to take on these mammoth challenges and if I was younger, even though I've never been a great walker, I would have a go myself.
Sadly, I'm pushing 62 and although that might not seem old by today's standards, I'm afraid the years of smoking, my heart attack and the subsequent medication have put it out of my reach. Having said that, I hope I have at least done it justice with my pyrography iron.
Coming up with a design for the Pennine Way was more difficult than the last two footpaths I have done because I couldn't find any strong icons along the route. However, I noted that a large proportion of the path, especially in the north is paved and along the way there are lots of the kind of steps that you can see on the plaque.
With regards to burning, the hardest part is the lettering. Once I have done a sketch of the details on the plaque, I scan it into photoshop to add the text. The good thing about Photoshop is that it gives me full control over the shape of the text.
I type it in a straight line first, then highlight it. Once highlighted, I choose warp text and arc style. Then it is just a matter of choosing a degree of arc that will see the text follow the contour of the plaque. Once that is done I print the whole thing out and transfer the design to the plague for burning.
When burning the text, I find that it is best to do the outline of each letter first. I use a lowish temperature for this because over burn on the outside of the letters stops the text from looking crisp. Once the outside is complete I then fill in the interior of each letter. This is done with lots of small stabbing movements. It's a bit like using my pyrography iron the same way as a woodpecker uses its beak, only a lot slower.  To give you some idea, I have to make around 60 burn marks on each letter to fill it up. If you multiply that by the number of letters, you can tell that it isn't a quick process.
For the plaque above, I used a spoon tip throughout with the exception of the lace holes in the boots. I did them with a wire tip.
I'm not sure what I'm doing next, but I will share it with you in my next post.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Pyrography Boat Finished

Hi all,
It's been a long hard slog but at last I have finished the boat. I guess it's taken me about a month and I'm glad it is done. When I started this project all I had in mind was a boat on a shingle beach, but then I added some lobster pots in the bottom left hand corner to give it some balance. However, there was still a bit of a blank space on either side, so I put a harbour wall on one side and a lighthouse on the other. You perhaps can't see it very clearly in the picture below, but the grain of the wood looks like the waves on the sea behind the boat.

When I was about half-way through, I thought of perching a seagull on the top of the boat, but in the end I decided against it. With the viewpoint I'd adopted for the boat the scaling of a seagull would prove to be difficult plus I wanted to keep the boat as the focal point. In the end I was pleased with the result but I'm going to stick to smaller projects in the future. The boat picture measures 14 inches x 11 inches and that is a hell of a lot of pyrography. To finish the job off I have mounted the picture in a recycled frame that has a bit of a distressed look and I thought it suited the subject perfectly.

Beside the tedious work of burning every individual stone on the beach, the shading in of the boat's hull also took a lot of work. When shading in, it is easy to get dark burn blobs all over the place,  I wanted to avoid these but at the same time have the temperature set high enough so that the task wouldn't take forever. The secret, when using a high temperature is to blow on your pyrography iron tip as you put it onto the wood and then move it about quickly and whatever you do don't slow down or stop. Keep your pyrography iron moving at a constant pace and your shading will have a consistent and even tone. By the way, just a reminder that all of the work on this project was done with a spoon tip. I can't imagine what the results would look like if I tried using a wire tip.

If you are using a Peter Child's machine I really would advice you to get some spoon tips. They may be more expensive than wire but they really do make a difference.

Selling Your Stuff
Last week I said I'd tell you about some other websites where you might want to try selling your pyrography work. I came across these when looking to see what alternatives there are to using  This is one of the first websites I checked out, but although it looks great for crafts people and pyrographers, they weren't up front with their costs. They deal in lifetime memberships and the only way to find out how much it costs, is to send them an e-mail with details about what you do. They will then propose a suitable package for you. That isn't the way I like to do business, so I gave them the swerve. However, that doesn't mean they might not be right for you. This appears to be UK based and looks like good value for money. The cost of listing an item is 20p and commission is only 2.5% of sales. This is a USA based website that, unlike all the others, has a section for woodburning and, according to the website, the first 50 items can be listed for free so it could be worth checking out in more detail.  This is a very big player in the field of selling crafts and artwork. They are USA based but I know a lot of people in the UK used them. Their fees are $0.20 per 4 month listing and 3.5% in commision from each sale.  I like the sound of this one and may give it a try myself soon. They are UK based and although they charge 20p per listing it does last for a 12 month period. Put that together with a low commission rate of 3% and it looks attractive.

My advice would be to check out the websites yourself because things may have changed by the time you read this post. Then search the Internet to see what other sites you can find. However, before you sign up with anybody consider the following.
Which county your live in and in which country you expect to make the most sales?
Will you be listing lots of items or just a few?
Does the site have a thriving forum?
Does the website promote itself and its sellers?

When I answered the above questions, I ended up making my shop here, They may not be perfect, but they do a pretty good job.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Selling Your Stuff

Hi All, I'm still beavering away on the boat and will let you see my progress again at the end of this post. However, before that, I thought I'd let you have my thoughts about outlets for your pyrography work.

If you have taken up pyrography you will at some time need to start selling some of your work. Let's face it, unless you live in a house as big as Chatsworth, sooner or later you are going to run out of space for your creations. You might not like the idea of selling at all, but doesn't it make sense to at least try to get back some of your material costs. I know that pyrography is very therapeutic but to have somebody like your work enough to buy it works wonders for the soul too.

In the early days, you will probably give some of your creations to friends who admire your work and perhaps sell some to other people you know, but where do you go from there?

You might think that you could get your work placed in a local craft shop and if you could it would be great. However, this is most unlikely because by the time they have added their mark up to the selling price. It will either mean that the price will be too high or the narrow margin means you will get two fifths of bu**er all for your efforts, while lining the shopkeeepers pockets.

You could do craft fairs and I know a few pyrographers who have have taken up this option However, it seems to be a hard road to travel beacause after paying out for pitch fees and travel costs they need to sell a lot of stuff to make it viable. Having said that, some pyrographers like working the craft fairs because it brings them into contact with their customers. If they enjoy it, I wish them all the luck in the world but I' afraid its not for me. I can get a bit precious about the pyrography items I produce and having lots of stick fingers mauling my items would be the stuff of nightmares.

So what's left? Answer, the good old Internet. This bit of technology is a God send for pyrographers who prefer to be burning wood in preference to jumping onto the craft fair merry-go-round.

I have sold quiet a few items over the Internet and I keep my eye's open for new outlets because websites that provide facilities for crafts people, including pyrographers, are popping up all of the time.

There are three ways to sell on the Internet.
Option 1
You could use an auction site like Ebay. I have tried this but found it to be unsuccessful. I did manage to sell a trinket box once, but the buyer failed to pay up. So I have given up with auction sites for the time being but might give then a crack again later. You can always give it a try because you stuff might be more likeable than mine.

Option 2
I have three websites and one of these is dedicated to my pyrography. I sell items on there and have set up a payment system. This website allows me to lots of freedom in how I display and sell my work, but it does have its draw backs. Firstly, finding people to visit the sight is difficult. My hit rate is improving but I would like it to be a lot better. Click on the following link if you'd like to take a look.
The second draw back of setting up your own website necessitates that you will need some knowledge of HTML programming. It is fun and easy to learn, but some people might not want to bother with it.

Option 3
I used a website called to display and sell my work. My shop is called Burning Desire and in it I can list as many items as I require. The costs incurred from using this facility are quite reasonable when compared with the cost of using craft fairs.

The cost of displaying each item is 18p including vat, for a period of 4 months. If I sell an item there is a further charge of 6% of the selling price which isn't going to break the bank.

Setting up a shop is straight forward with the fees being payed monthly by Paypal. When somebody buys a piece of my pyrography they also pay me via Paypal.

If you are producing lots of pyrography work you might want to upgrade to a yearly payment of £45 which will allow you to list as many items as you want. Folksy will then just take their 6% fee from any item you sell.

Although I use,  there are other websites that facilitate the selling of artwork, handmade, and craft items. I have checked out quite a few and will tell you about  them in my next post.

Below you will find a picture showing the progress I have made on the boat.

I'm afraid I'm not enjoying it much because it is taking much too long. Hopefully, it will be finished by the time I do my next post and I am sure that my next project will be something much smaller.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Slow progress

Hi All,
I just thought I'd keep you up to date with my latest project. If you read my last post you will have seen the start of the biggest picture I have ever attempted with my pyrography iron. For those of you who missed it, here it is again.
Well I'm afraid that Ive got to report that progress is very slow. I have managed to add  some lobster pots, some buoys and a couple of hundred more pebbles, but that's about it. Other than the generally lethargy that gropes me every Christmas, the reason why the picture is moving at snail's pace is because burning every single pebble with my pyrography iron is challenging . I don't know if you would understand me if I said that doing the pebbles is both tedious and therapeutic at the same time. The trouble is I can only do this repetitive work for a short while because it sets my Carpal Tunnel syndrome off something shocking. At the bottom of this post you can see how far I've progressed.
Still, I guess I'm over half way and hope to show you the finished article in my next post. Coming up soon I will also give you my views on selling any pyrography items that you may have produced. I know that parting with you own work is like giving away your first born, but unless you want to be buried under a pile of your own creations it has to be done.
 By the way, I'm sorry if you find any spelling mistakes or gramar issues in this post, but I'm trying to do this project without my wife finding out and she usually profreads my post before I publish them.