Day: October 28, 2015

Henna Tattoo Pyrography Project by Lora Irish

Walnut Hollow Woodburner Detailer – 3

Henna Tattoo Moon Face PlaqueThe question that we are going to explore over the next few days as we work through two step-by-step pyrography projects using the Walnut Hollow Woodburner Detailer – the Henna Moon Plaque, and the Henna Moon Leather Journal.  This post will take you through the steps for preparing your wood plaque, and tracing your pattern.  We will look at basic hand positions used in pyrography, and outlining the pattern in the next post.

Henna Moon Pyrography Project
Walnut Hollow Woodburner Detailer – Introduction
Walnut Hollow Woodburner Detailer 2 – History of Henna Tattoos



Henna Moon Pyrography Pattern

Click on each pattern for a full-sized printable image.

henna moon pyrography pattern hennamoon pattern2
Henna Moon Tracing Pattern Henna Moon Working Pattern


Walnut Hollow Wood Burning ToolHenna Moon Plaque Supply List:

Walnut Hollow Woodburner Detailer
8″ x 10″ Birch Plywood Plaque
Soft #4B to 7B pencil
White artist’s eraser and a Document Cleaning Pad
220-grit sandpaper
Brown kraft paper – an old grocery store paper bag
Painter’s tape or masking tape


free pyrography patternPreparing the Wood Plaque

Step 1:  Lightly sand the working surface of your birch plywood with 220-grit sandpaper, working the sanding strokes with the grain lines of the wood.  Remove the sanding dust using a soft, clean cloth.

Step 2:  Tear a large section of brown kraft paper from a paper bag.  Crumble the paper in your hand into a loose ball.  Use the crumbled paper to lightly sand the working surface of your board.  Remove the sanding dust using a soft, clean cloth.

Note 1:  While sandpaper does remove loose fibers and reduce uneven areas in our wood plaques, it also leaves very fine scratches in the surface of the wood. By working your sandpaper in the direction of the wood grain you hide those fine scratch between the wood grain lines where they will not show after the area has been burned, stained, or colored. 

Note 2: Paper is abrasive.  In wood carving I use newspaper as the final sharpening surface for my bench knife and carving tools.  Brown kraft paper is a wonderful sanding media to remove any scratches left from the 220-grit paper and to give your wood surface a light burnished finish.  As a wood carver and pyrographer I hoard all brown paper bags that come into the house.

tracing a pyrography patternPreparing the Pattern Paper

Step 3:  Click on the Henna Moon pattern and save a copy to your desktop.  You can resize this image to exactly fit your plaque by using an image editing or photo editing program.  Print a copy of the pattern using your computer’s printer.  The pattern image that is shown here is sized to fit an 8″ x 10″ birch plaque and allows room for a border pattern.

Step 4:  Fold the pattern paper into quarters – once along the horizon line and once vertically. Creasing along the fold lines.  The intersection of the fold lines marks the center of your pattern for easy placement on the wood.

Step 5:  Turn the pattern paper to the back and rub the entire back surface with a soft #4 to #7 pencil.  This coats the back with a layer of graphite.

tracing a pyrography patternStep 6:  Using a ruler and pencil mark the center horizontal and vertical line of your wood plaque.

Step 7:  Place the folder pattern paper at the center cross lines on the wood plaque.  Carefully open the pattern, keeping the fold lines along the penciled guidelines on the wood.  Tape the top edge of the pattern paper to  the wood to hold it in place.



tracing a pyrography patternStep 8:  Using an ink pen, trace the pattern lines.  Lift a corner of your pattern paper and check that you have all of the pattern transferred.  Remove the pattern paper and tape.






how t otrace a pyrography patternNote: There are several methods to transferring a pyrography pattern to your media, and which you use depends on which media on which you will work.

For wood I usually do a #7 or #8 pencil rubbing because the graphite is dark enough to easily follow with my pen tip and can be completely removed after the burning is done using a white artist eraser.  Please be careful if you use colored erasers as you can transfer some of the eraser dye onto your project.

For watercolor paper I will use a #2 to #4 pencil.  With the white color of the paper I only need a pale graphite trace and any pencil lines left after the burning are often barely visible. 

If I am burning cotton or linen cloth I use a water soluble quilt marking pen with the cloth, laid over the pattern on my light box.  When the burning is done a light ironing with steam makes the pen marks disappear.

Leather crafters often transfer their patterns by wetting the leather surface with clean water.  The pattern paper is laid on top of the damp leather and traced using a fine point stylist or ink pen.  When completed the tracing process leaves a fine indented, unmarked line on the leather.  I don’t use this process on my leather projects because that indented line does not go away and can cause my pen to skip or wobble during a stroke.  Instead I treat the pattern transfer as if I were working on wood with a #7 or #8 soft pencil.  Any pencil lines can be removed after the burning using a Document Cleaning Pad which is a soft cloth bag filled with ground eraser bits.

If you prefer to free hand your own designs to wood, leather, or paper consider doing the line work using watercolor pencils!  Both Prismacolor and Derwent have watercolor pencils that can be purchased individually.  A Pale Sienna pencil will create a line one or two tonal values darker than basswood and birch plywood.  I use 20% French Gray for my watercolor paper burnings.  When you are finished the work you can either lift the watercolor pencil using a lightly damp cloth, or you can incorporate the pencil lines into your paint or pencil color additions.

Finished Tracing Steps

Tracing a pyrography patternStep 9:  At this point you should have your pattern transferred to your sanded and burnished plywood plaque.  We are ready to start the outlining steps in the next post.  See you there!



Walnut Hollow Woodburner Detailer – 2

Henna Tattoo Moon Face PlaqueHenna Tattoos

Please click on any image for a full-sized photo.

I love creating realistic, highly detailed, finely shaded images with my pyrography.  The introduction of affordable hot tipped pen woodburners to the craftsman, over the last few decades, has opened a new avenue, allowing many of us to bring our fine art skills to new medias as wood, leather, watercolor paper, and even fabric.  Hours and hours of carefully pulled strokes, layered shading, and fine line detailing can create images that are almost photographic.

But once in a while I just want to kick back, relax, and have a little fun with a pattern or design where I don’t have to be so very careful or absolutely accurate.  Once in a while I just want to play with my wood burning!  Henna tattoo patterns are just perfect for a play session of burning.

Quoting from Wikipedia: “Henna has been used to adorn young women’s bodies as part of social and holiday celebrations since the late Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranean. The earliest text mentioning henna in the context of marriage and fertility celebrations comes from the Ugaritic legend of Baal and Anath, which has references to women marking themselves with henna in preparation to meet their husbands, and Anath adorning herself with henna to celebrate a victory over the enemies of Baal. Wall paintings excavated at Akrotiri (dating prior to the eruption of Thera in 1680 BCE) show women with markings consistent with henna on their nails, palms and soles, in a tableau consistent with the henna bridal description from Ugarit. Many statuettes of young women dating between 1500 and 500 BCE along the Mediterranean coastline have raised hands with markings consistent with henna. This early connection between young, fertile women and henna seems to be the origin of the Night of the Henna, which is now celebrated worldwide.”

Henna Tattoo Patterns by Lora IrishWhy use Henna Tattoo patterns in our pyrography?

Fine line henna designs as body art dates back to the Bronze Age.  As we work through today’s steps in our Henna Moon plaque pattern, we are following in the foot steps of an art style that is at least 4000 years old.  These simple line patterns are hand created on a flexible, moving surface – skin.  They are seldom perfect either in the execution or in the repetition of a pattern element.  Circles are not perfectly round, lines often wobble, and some flowers may have eight petals while the next repeat of that flower has only seven.

This makes Henna Tattoo patterns perfect for the beginning pyrographer – you can’t make a mistake working a Henna design!  You are guaranteed success because you are following the hand-crafted look of the real tattoo. You can practice pulling long curved lines with your pen tip, adding light shading, and controlling the depth and tonal value of your burn without worrying about being accurate and true to your pattern lines.

For the advance wood burner, Henna patterns give you a chance to relax while working a image.  Photo-realism is often the goal of an advanced burner, but that style of work is executed with intense concentration and tight muscle control over the pen tip movement.  Henna patterns remind you, the advanced pyrographer, to relax your hand and muscle control, to re-experience free flowing motions, and to ‘just let the pyrography happen’.



As we work through the Henna Moon plaque I will be reviewing the performance of the Walnut Hollow Woodburner Detailer.  I will also be focusing on how a relax hand position, and a relaxed attitude during any burning session makes your line work smoother, more even, and more alive. For my beginners, remember that you just can’t make a mistake with a Henna Pattern.  The worst that can happen is that you drop your hot pen tip and it rolls across the face of your plaque leaving a long smug mark.  And if that happens, fear not!  I will be teaching you how to give your finished work a vintage/antique look that will make that accident into a wonderful finished effect!

So, lets begin with preparing your board and tracing your pattern in the next post to this free pyrography project.

Disclaimer: I am not associated with nor work for Walnut Hollow.  I am receiving no financial compensation for this post. My review of their product, the Walnut Hollow Woodburner Detailer, is just my personal opinion and experience in using this tool.


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