Wood Carving and Burning Painting Supplies

This free wood carving project by Lora S. Irish, author and artist of Art Designs Studio,  focuses on the multiple types of media and paints you can use to color your next wood carving, pyrography work, or craft project.

Which Paint is Right for your Project

Any painting session begins by setting up your work table.  Lets explore some of the paint mediums you may need.  Each paint media has its own advantages and disadvantages when used on your finished wood carving, pyrography project, scroll saw, or gourd painting.  Many painting mediums can be used in combination. As an example, an oil-based stain can be applied over a deeply detailed carving with acrylic craft colors added to give coloration to the high ridges of the project.


painted penguin wood carving by Lora S. IrishPaints and Colors

There is a wide variety of paint that you can use on your wood carvings, wood burnings, scroll saw, and paper crafts.  All paints are made up of two parts – the color pigment and the float.  Pigments are finely ground minerals and chemicals that give the actual coloring to your paint.  Those pigments are suspended in a float, a fluid media that allows you to move the pigment with your brush.  Floats can by oil based as in oil paints or water based as with watercolors or acrylics.  If you use pan or cake watercolors you will add the float when you dilute the color with water.



Watercolors paint is made from pigments that use water as their float base.  They are available as a thick liquid in tubes or dried in a pan or as a small cake of color.  A small amount of color is placed on a glazed tile and thinned to a semi-transparent coloring with water; the more water that you add the more transparent the color will appear on your work.  They are considered the most pure of paint mediasm, giving a vibrant, luminous effect.

Because of their semi-transparent aspects watercolors will tint your wood project, allowing both the natural color of the wood and any wood grain to show through your painting steps.  There is no true white watercolor, instead Chinese White is commonly used and often comes with any watercolor set.  You may also use your acrylic white for highlighting. Watercolors require some water-resistant finish as polyurethane or acrylic spray sealers.


Artist Quality Acrylics

Acrylic polymer emulsion is used to float the pigments in acrylic paints.  When dry acrylics are water-resistant and permanent.  On your palette, acrylics can be used as they come straight from the tube or thinned to create watercolor or oil glaze effects.  The polymer emulsion has almost no coloration so artist quality acrylics can have a semi-transparent, semi-glossy look when used as solid color fills.  To avoid thin spots or streaks use a primer base under these paints.


painted fish decoy wood carving by Lora S IrishCraft Acrylic Colors

Craft paints or craft acrylics also have a polymer emulsion base that is generally some tone of grey, creating wonderful colors as Wedgewood blue, colonial red, and burnt orange.  Most  craft paints have a dull or matte look after drying.  The grey-toned emulsion blocks out any wood color or grain, giving your painted areas a strong, solid coloration.

Available in a wide range of premixed  colors, craft paints are inexpensive and easy to use.  They can be thinned with water to create a watercoloring effect or used straight from the bottle.


painted craft clay flower pot by Lora S IrishArtist Quality Oil Paints

Oil paints are pigment floated in a linseed oil or stand oil base.  These are very fluid colors, easily blended, and can be used when mixed heavily with linseed oil as a glaze.  Because of the oil base, oil paints are slow drying which allows you to work the painting steps over several days without any area becoming set.  To create a glazed effect oil paints are thinned with turpentine or mineral spirits.  The heavier you thin your colors the quicker the drying time will be.

Damar varnish, polyurethane or acrylic spray sealer are used to give the final coloring a water-resistant finish.


pyrography gourd basket by Lora S IrishFabric Dyes

Available is liquid or dry form these colors create a true watercolor look on fabric, wood, and gourds.  The dye pigments are thinned with water and can be used as a dipping media or applied with a brush.  They are semi-permanent, soaking deeply into the fibers of your project.  Use latex gloves when working with fabric dye as it will stain your hands.

Because it is semi-permanent layers of coloring can be used to intensify an area or to create shading.


Acrylic Primer

Primers are sealing coats used to pre-treat your wood carving or spot primer the painted areas of your gourd.  Most primers are fully matte white paint that is used to seal the wood from the paint media that you will be using, while blocking out the wood’s natural color and grain pattern.

Since most primers are polymer emulsion based any acrylic color can be added to create colored primers.  Medium grey and medium brown primers make artist quality acrylics appear more solid than they would over a white base.  Dark primers can be used behind paler toned craft paints for a dry-brushed, antiqued look.


Painting Mediums

Each type of paint has its own special medias which are used to thin, thicken, or seal the coloring.  When you purchase your chosen paint check which medias are available.


colored pencil gourd bird house by Lora IrishArtist Quality Colored Pencils

These easy to use, fun, brightly colored pencils are fast becoming a favorite coloring media and are available in sets of 12, 24, and up to 120 distinct colors.  Artist quality pencils come in two styles – wax-based or watercolor.  The wax-base of dry colored pencils allows you to smoothly blend one color into another to create varying shades and new color tones.  Using a sharp point to your pencils, apply thin layers of colored pencils to establish your final color.  For added blending, purchase a blending pencil when you pick up your colored pencil set.  This pencil is made from just the wax base and can be used over an area which holds several colors to increase the smooth flow of one color into another.

Watercolor pencils can also be blended or laid one color over another to create new tones.  When the pencil work is complete you can use a slightly damp brush to turn the colors into watercolor washes.    Watercolor pencils can be used over wax-based pencils to do small shading and highlighting.

Either style of colored pencil are available through the larger craft stores or online through art supply stores.


Craft or School Quality Colored Pencils

This type of colored pencil is readily available at your  craft store, office supply store, and even at your local drug store.  They use a clay base for their color float which can build up quickly.  Craft pencils do not blend as well as artist quality colors and they tend to have a streaked or spotted look when used for solid coverage.  They are perfect if you need just one or two coats for fine line work – eyebrows, eyelashes, and white highlights in your carved eyes are easily added with clay-based craft pencils.


permanent markers painted clay pot bird house by Lora S IrishPermanent Marking Pens

Permanent markers are not just for posters, signs, and quick notes on cardboard boxes any more.  They come is a wide range of tip sizes from extra-fine to extremely wide and a huge color range.  The float for permanent markers is rubbing alcohol which can be brushed over a colored area to create the watercolor look.    They are available as individual colored pens or as sets of 12 to 24.

Add a extra-fine permanent black marker to your kit for fine line work and to sign and date your project.  Markers can be used over colored pencil, watercolor, and acrylic coloring to add small areas of shading, textures, patterns, and detailing.

Basics to Painting:  More free wood carving and pyrography projects by Lora S. Irish

Flower clock face patterns by Lora IrishFloral Clocks Pattern Package, exclusive updated line art designs by Lora S. Irish.  Rembrandt Tulips, Cottage Rose, Morning Glories, Oriental Poppies, Shasta Daisies,Wild Roses, and a Mixed Bouquet, plus fourteen ‘Little Bit’ flower patterns, the designs that you need to give a wood project just a ‘little bit’ of accent. One great idea done seven different ways…this Floral Clock Pattern Package has been designed especially for those who need a fun and quick gift idea for the Lady in your life.  Great for Wood Burning!  Available at ArtDesignsStudio.com.

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: