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My own art and craft

Pyrography – what I’ve learnt so far.

Pyrography is the posh name for burning wood with a pen. Done well its amazing. A quick search on google images and you’ll find some absolutely incredible pictures. It’s a real skill to do it properly.

Here’s what I learnt in my first attempt.

A beginner’s kit.

I’d been thinking about having a go for a while, so took the plunge by buying a beginner’s kit from Amazon. It was about £30 I think. There are cheaper ones, and I think that Hobbycraft do the pen on its own for about £10 but I went for a set as I wanted the option of the different tips that came with it. It also turns into a soldering iron, but one step at a time.

The instructions that came with it were a bit limited so I spent 5 minutes trying to look for a description online. I could see loads of You Tube clips about improving technique but nothing that specifically said ‘use this pen tip to start’. I think the only real way to know what does what (a bit like the whittling kit https://www.thecraftydaddy.co.uk/my-art-work/whittling-wood/ ) is to get a blank piece of wood and try them out. The problem with that is you have to wait for the tip to cool down each down, which for someone as impatient as me, isn’t fun.

Unfortunately, if you don’t wait for it to cool down and you try and use your sleeve to unscrew it quickly, you end up (predictably) burning your jumper. Not advised!

Oops.

For my first project I wanted to do something relatively simple. I chose a motto that a friend uses with her family and did a sketch of the design. I traced that on to greaseproof paper and then on to the wood. Here’s a quick summary in pictures…

You’ll then end up with your design on the wood.

Looks good at this point.

You then have to bite the bullet and get on with using the pyrography pen. I was nervous, I can be a bit of a liability with tools.

Choose the tip you want to use and screw it in. Then plug the pen in, turn it on and wait for it to heat up. This takes 5 minutes or so with my pen. I got immensely frustrated for about half an hour, as I didn’t realise how hot it needs to be. Mine had a temperature variation setting on it, and I had it at 36 degrees, which turns out, isn’t hot enough to burn the wood. Needless to say, I was ready to send it back and was moaning about how rubbish it was. I then realised it turned up to about 50 degrees, and once I’d put it to 45+ degrees it began to burn the wood quite easily. Wish someone would have told me that and saved me half an hour!

Ready to go. The thin tip on this worked more smoothly than the other thicker one I used. Unfortunately I didn’t realise this until too late.

I set about going around the design with the pen. I think I chose the wrong tip as I went for one with quite a thick circular end. This just seemed to make a circular hole (unsurprisingly) and didn’t pull along very well – this meant that I kept just making holes rather than a fluid line. It was too late by the time I’d realised, so I had to see it through. When it came to the sunflower, I used the thinner point (see above) and this worked better.

It took me hours to do it, but steadily I made progress. I think that my choice of wood didn’t help as the grain is circular, which adds an extra dimension to trying to pull the pen around. I’d say get a flat piece of wood with the grain running in one direction, and make your life easier as a beginner. Also, I wrote with curved, looping letters – avoid this as well as curved lines are harder than straight lines! Basically, do everything that’s opposite to what I did!

Anyway, regardless of all that, I got there in the end.

It’s a bit clumsy, but for a first attempt I was fairly pleased. The infinity sign at the bottom didn’t go too well, but you can’t win ’em all!

Why not have a go yourself?