Monday, 24 April 2017

Colouring Pyrography

Hi all,
Adding colour to pyrography is not something that all pyrographers agree with. Some say it spoils the whole concept of pyrography while others see it in a different light. It is the same with wood turners. While some purists only like wood finishes that show off the grain, there are others who like a bit of colour.

To be honest I'm not bothered either way, I certainly would put colour on wood just for the sake of it, but there are times when it can bring a piece to life. So, such was my dilemma when I recently turned a "T" light holder. It looked pretty good just with the pyrography on it, but I was desperate to colour something with the airbrush that I had for my birthday.

Anyway, the need to colour won and I gave the leaves a quick spray of yellow and another of orange to represent autumnal leaves. I didn't have to mask the leaves off because the stains I used came out of the airbrush in a very fine mist so they could not be seen on the dark pyrography background.

Here it is with the colouring on.
My wife preferred it with out the colour and so did a few members of the Pen turners forum
I'm on the fence, I liked them both, but in my mind, if you don't try anything new you will stay ver much stuck in the rut you started off in.

Just a word on the finishing of this piece. I used a high gloss melamine spray and although it does put a shine on the wood. Be warned, it needs to be used with a safety uppermost in you mind. The vapours are very strong so only use in a really well ventilated room, outside would be even better, and wear a mask that is rated for fumes. The mask you use for dust will be about as much use as tits on a bull.

In actual fact, I don't like using spray finishes at all, but it is the only way to get a seal over the colouring that would otherwise wipe off if a normal wax finish was used. I am going to invest in a can of wipe on melamine finish so that I can use the spray just to seal my work with one coat and any susequent coats will be the wipe on stuff.

Anyway, at the moment I seem to have got the colour bug and in my next post I will show you my next project which involves 6 different colours.

If you have any questions or comments they are all welcome

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Trinket pot

Hi all,
I decided that instead of making another pen I'd have a go at another needle pot, well that was what it was supposed to be, but it came out a bit shorter than I intended so I'm calling it a trinket pot.

Just as a reminder, here is the needle pot that I made recently. The leave design is done with pyrography and it's coloured with sharpie markers. The finish was done with CA, better known as superglue.
Anyway, I enjoyed making this needle pot so I made another with a different design which again was done with pyrography. One of the main reasons for doing another needle pot was to experiment with a different finish. Super glue or CA as it is known in wood turning circles has been a firm favourite, especially with pen turners, for a number of years. However, more recently its popularity began to decrease in favour of other finishes like melamine. I won't go into the reasons why, but if there is a better alternative to CA then I'd want to use it.

So with this in mind, I turned a new needle pot and then burnt on my pyrography design. I finished the lid using a gloss melamine spray and finished the body with CA. Here is a picture of the finished pot.
It's a fine little pot even though I do say so myself, but it did have its problems when it came to the finishing. So far I'm not convinced about either finish and here are the reasons why.

First the melamine finish.
I used this on the lid, spaying it in a cardboard box so that the spray didn't go every where. I had the door to the workshop and two windows open but it was still a dire process. It was a case of spraying one side of the lid and then beating a hasty retreat to a place more friendly, in this case it was the garden. After waiting a decent period, I went back in, turned the lid around and then sprayed it from the other side. This process was repeat four times in total to make sure it got a good coating. The fumes from this finish are very strong so I was not happy with the process at all.

The CA finish.
I put five coats of thin viscosity CA on the body and all was going well until I gave it a coat of medium CA. I had intended on giving it three coats of medium CA, but after the first I noticed a white bloom in a large area of the pot. This wasn't what I expected so decided to go no further with the CA. I put the lid on the pot a burnished them both with burnishing cream. I was hopeful that this would get rid of the white bloom and I'm pleased to say that it did.

It seems that using CA for finishing is a bit of a lottery, most of the time it comes out great, but often it doesn't. I don't like the fumes CA gives off and there is always the danger of sticking parts of one's anatomy together, or even worse, sticking a part of one's anatomy to the lathe.

My conclusions are that I will rarely use CA again for a finish due to its unpredictability and, for the time being at least, I will use the melamine spray. I think the melamine itself is okay, it is the spraying that is the big issue, so I'm going to investigate the wipe on type of melamine and I will let you know how I get on.

My next project is a T light holder, decorated with pyrography and coloured with the new toy I had for my birthday. I can't wait to try it out.

By the way, if you are interested in downloading a free copy of one of my books from Amazon it will be free from Wednesday 19th of April until Sunday. It is called "Bossyboots" and is the funniest book I've written. Don't let the childish title put you off because it is grown up in its content.

To get a copy just click on the book's tab at the top of the page and then click on the book's cover to go straight to the book on Amazon. Please grab a copy while you can because it will be a long while before it is free again.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

New Pen Kit

Hi all, Up until a couple of weeks ago, all the pens I turned were made from slimline kits. This is the classical slimline pen shape.
Slimeline pens are great for pen turning beginners because the kits to make them are inexpensive. One of the downsides of this popular pen is the shape. It has a metal band in the middle which gives the pen a wasted look that not everyone, including my wife, finds attractive. Making the pen thin enough for the centre band means that, to make the pen look anything like right, the top and bottom need to be reasonably thin also. This means for somebody like me, that wants to decorate the pen with pyrography, the canvas to work on is very narrow.

It is possible to modify a slimline pen kit by doing away with the centre band altogether.
Here is an example where I have used a pyrography band has been used to differentiate between the bottom of the pen and the top.

In the next example, I have modified the slimline kit and changed the shape in the centre instead of using pyrography bands.
Anyway, after doing thirty odd pens made from slimline kits, I had the urge to try one of the bigger pens, which would give me more space for burning. I choose a design called a Zeta. The Zeta is a beautiful, top quality pen kit that can be purchased from
They come in a couple of colour ways and this is the first one I made. The pen kit is gun metal and chrome and the wood is black palmera.
I think you can now see the difference between a slimline pen and Zeta. I think this pen is stunning, even though I do say it myself. I was bought up under the notion that if you didn't blow your own trumpet nobody else would bother blowing it for you. Having made this Zeta, I made the next one from a gunmetal and gold kit and used maple for the wood blank, so that I could do some pyrography on it.
Here is the finished pen with a leaves design burnt onto it with my pyrography iron.
Sadly, you won't find any Zetas for sale yet in my
shop because my wife bagsied both of them. On top of that I've had an idea for the pyrography decoration on another needle pot so that will be the subject of my next post. I hope you enjoyed this piece about different pens kits, if you have any question please let me know.