Month: November 2013

Art Styles of Pyrography E-Book

My newest e-book, Art Styles of Pyrography, is finally ready at my pattern website, Art, and I am so excited!

Styles of Pyrography by Irish

This e-book, Art Styles of Pyrography, focuses on the basic techniques and styles used to create our wood burnings. Enjoy the 15 in-depth projects as you learn black and white silhouettes, cross hatching, engraving, pointillism, graduated pencil-like shading, texture painting, and realism. 190 page PDF E-Book only $16.95!

Plus you get the 83-step in-depth Advertising Barn project, a large realistic landscape with close-up hand positions and pen tip profile photos.

Easy to See, Easier to Print

Click on the image to see the photo size for each project page.

Each project page features full-page sized photos! So you can see every burned stroke, every shaded line, and every fine detail. The Blue Jeans photo, right, is one sample of a project page and the web does not do the PDF format image justice!

Honestly, the images are so large, clear, detailed, and easy to follow in this PDF format e-book that I believe it is the future for any pyrography book!

The Table of Contents and Project Gallery is listed so that you can easily print just those pages you need to complete your project.

Explore the art styles you can use in your wood burning.

art styles of pyrography by Lora Irish

Learn black-and-white silhouettes, negative and positive space, engraving, cross hatching, pointillism, shaded drawing, texture painting, and realism.

Create a texture and stroke pattern practice board.

complete texture board

Want to learn more?  Click here to see Art Styles in Pyrography, or order now through our line art pyrography and wood carving pattern site, Art Designs Studio.

Check out our new E-Project Bundles!

Ceremonial Mask Pyrography by Irish Ceremonial Mask E-Project Bundle includes two in-depth PDF format e-books – Introduction to Pyrography and Ceremonial Mask Pyrography Project.  The same full-page sized photos, and step by step instructions for the Ceremonial Mask and the Feathered Border project.  Plus you get three complete pattern packs – Fun Wood Spirits, Green Men, and Ceremonial Mask.  A $52 value for only $27.95.

Lion Portrait Pyrography by IrishAnimal Portrait Pyrography E-Project Bundle includes two in-depth PDF format e-books – Introduction to Pyrography and Animal Portrait Pyrography.  Three step-by-step projects with full-page sized photos for the Lion, Cougar, and Cow Portrait burnings.  Plus you get three complete pattern packs – North American Wildlife, North American Big Cats, and Western Horses Mantel.  A $52 value for only $27.95.

Wood Carving Celtic Dragon 3

Over the last two days we have worked on a relief wood carving project featuring a Celtic knot dragon pattern.  Today we will walk through the simple and easy painting steps to give this basswood carving the look of stone.

Wood Carving Celtic Dragon 1
Wood Carving Celtic Dragon 2
Wood Carving Celtic Dragon 3

Celtic Dragon Wood Carving by Lora IrishPreparing the carving for painting

14.  Basswood is an easy to carve wood that has a very clear, white coloring.  Because basswood is very porous it is does not take oil based stains well without the use of a pretreatment sealer as polyurethane or spray sealer.  For our project I used acrylic craft paints to create the stone effect.


Acrylic craft paints in:
Titanium White
Carbon Black
Payne’s Gray
Burnt Umber
Burnt Sienna
Driftwood oil stain
Water bowl
Glass tile, palette paper, or tin foil
Paper towels
Clean, soft cloth
Assorted soft-bristle paintbrushes
Splatter brush or old toothbrush
Masking tape or painter’s tape
220-grit sandpaper
Polyurethane spray sealer

More information on painting your wood carvings.

using a primer coat when painting a wood carvingPrimer coat for relief wood carving

15.  Begin by using painter’s tape along the uncut 1/4″ margin surrounding the carving.  Cut long pieces, place into position, and press firmly.  The painter’s tape will protect these areas from coloring.

Place a small amount of titanium white, Payne’s gray, and burnt umber on a glass tile. Thin each color with an equal amount of clean water.

Brush two wash coats of titanium white on the carved area of the plaque. Because you mixed equal parts paint and water, this coat will not give full, solid coverage.

While the titanium white coats are still damp, pick up a small amount of Payne’s gray and mix it with the titanium white on your tile. Working along the diagonal of the plaque,  brush a few random strokes of the gray/white mix over the white background. Pick up a little more Payne’s gray, mix it with the titanium white on your tile, and apply it to the carving.

Next, add a small touch of burnt umber to the gray/white mix and repeat. Add a small amount of burnt sienna to the mix and repeat. Your background should now contain many  shades of white, gray, and brown. Allow these coatings to dry for about half an hour .

splatter painting a relief wood carvingSplatter the carving with fine paint dots

16.  Clean your glass tile, and then place a small amount of each paint color on the tile. Do not thin these colors with water. Working one color at a time, use an old stiff toothbrush or splatter brush to splatter a coat of each color on the carving.  Do this by picking up a small amount of color on the end of the splatter brush. Hold the brush a few inches from the surface of the carving, and pull your thumb across the top of the brush. This action will spray a fine mist of paint drops over the carving. Thin the paint with a few drops of water if you wish to create a fine spray with small droplets.

Painting the routed border

17.  Remove the tape from the edges of the carving. Brush two thinned wash coats of titanium white on the routed border edges of the plaque. Streak this area with a mix of titanium white and Payne’s gray, just as you did with the center of the carving. Allow the carving to dry overnight.

Creating a vintage look to your painted carving

18.  After you have completed the painting steps and allowed the paint to dry , sand the carved areas, background, and routed edges of the plaque using 220-grit sandpaper to remove some paint from the high areas of the carving. Sand lightly in some areas to remove one or two layers of color; in other areas, sand the carving back to the raw wood. Clean the dust from the board using a soft, dry cloth.

Seal the work with two coats of polyurethane spray sealer. Allow the sealer to dry thoroughly. Following the manufacturer’s instructions to apply an oil-based stain to the carving . Wipe away the excess oil stain with a soft, clean cloth. Allow the stain to dry overnight. Seal the work with one to two light coats of polyurethane spray sealer. Remember to sign and date the back of the plaque when finished.

I hope you have enjoyed this in-depth step-by-step free relief wood carving project and will take the time to browse through the other free online relief carving projects by Lora Irish that we have posted on our blog.

Thank you for visiting – Lora Irish!

Lora Irish celtic knot pattern 129_150x150 Celtic knot patterns by Lora S Irish
Celtic Crosses Celtic Dragon Knot Celtic Knots 2

Celtic Knot Carving Patterns by Lora S Irish,

Celtic Dragon Wood Carving by Lora Irish

Wood Carving Celtic Dragon 2

We are working on a beginner level relief wood carving project with a free Celtic knot dragon pattern by Lora S. Irish.  Yesterday’s post worked through the basic tool kit, preparing your basswood board, tracing your pattern, and rough cutting the background area using a bench knife stop cut and the round gouge.

Today we will work on the general shaping steps, how to smoothly contour the dragon body, and using the bench knife to cut detail lines into the relief wood carving.

Wood Carving Celtic Dragon 1
Wood Carving Celtic Dragon 2
Wood Carving Celtic Dragon 3

general shaping of a reliefwood carvingGeneral shaping of the dragon body

5.  Any celtic knot pattern is created with a line that is knotted in an up-then-down pattern.  The line crosses over itself multiple times.  In our Celtic Knot Dragon pattern, by Lora Irish, the body of the dragon goes from the head under the tail, behind the front leg, under the tail again, behind the back leg, under the tail a third time, then it becomes the tail section that crosses over the body at the neck.

6.  On your pattern, with a pencil, mark each of the cross-over areas of the dragon body.

7.  Using either the bench knife or v-gouge cut a v-trough in the area of the dragon along the cross-over lines, in the background or under-tucked area of the body.  Example, where the tail crosses over the neck, the neck area is cut with the v-trough.

using a straight chisel to shape a relief wood carvingGeneral contouring with a straight chisel

8.  With a straight chisel or skew chisel, cut along the outer edge of each body area of the dragon.  You are carving away the sharp edge of the wall to begin giving your dragon body a curved contour.

Work with the grain of your wood as you shape the outer edges of each area.  Begin the cutting stroke so that the tool runs parallel with the grain and cuts away from the open ends of the grain line.  Turn your board as necessary.  More about Working with the grain of your wood.

Work the eyes, tongue, and teeth in the same manner.

using a v-gouge in relief wood carving using a straight chisel to round over a relief wood carving shaping a relief wood carving with a straight chisel
A v-gouge is used to cut a v-shaped trough along the pattern line that separates one area of the relief carving from another. Hold the straight chisel at an angle along the straight wall edges of each element.  Cut a thin slice.  Work with the grain of the wood to create the cleanest cuts. Lay the chisel with the angle of the cutting edge against the wood for thin slices.  For deep, thick slices use this tool with the angle of the edge up.









Irish_celtic06Smooth the dragon body into a clean, even curve.

9.  To smooth the dragon’s body use your straight chisel or skew chisel held at a very low angle to the wood.  Dropping the chisel as close to the wood as possible allows you to shave extremely thin slices of wood.  Work this step until all of the wood in the dragon has been shaved, do not leave any area uncut or at the original wood plaque surface.

The original wood surface has a different texture and feel than those areas that we have cut.  This difference will visually show after the work is complete and can create a problem during the painting and staining steps as each area will accept coloring in a different way.  Make it a habit to cut the entire wood surface during the smoothing steps.

10.  Basswood has several outstanding qualities that make it a great beginner carving wood.  It is a tight, even grained wood that has a clear, white coloring.  Although it is classified as a hardwood it is easy to cut and take the finest detailing well.  This means that you, as a beginner, have the opportunity to learn how to use your tools, how to make your relief carving strokes, and how to work through the level changes of a relief carving.

Because basswood is an easy cutting wood it often leaves small fiber of loose wood grain after the cut is complete.  I call them Fuzz Bunnies!  To remove these left-over wood fibers re-cut where necessary with your bench knife or chip carving knife.

11.  Using 320-grit sandpaper lightly sand your carving to give a final, smoothing to the work.  You can also use rifflers, small profile-shaped files that fit into the deep edges, sharp angles, and undercuts of a relief wood carving.  Wipe any dust from the carving with a clean, dry cloth.

As your hobby grows you will advance into other woods as maple, walnut, and mahogany.  Because these woods are harder surfaced they seldom need intense sanding, the shaving steps give a clean finish to the work.

v-gouge detailing in a relief wood carvingAdding the detail lines to the dragon

12.  With a pencil mark the areas from the pattern onto your dragon carving for the inner detailing.  You can cut your pattern into small pieces.  Tape those pieces into position on your carving and slide a small piece of graphite paper underneath to make the tracing.

13.  Using either the stop cut made with a bench knife or the v-gouge, cut along the traced inner detailing lines.  If you chose the v-gouge cut the v-trough detail line in several light, shallow passes.  This slowly lowers the line and avoids the corners of the cross hatched areas to chip out.

14. Chip outs happen.  If your tool lifts a corner of wood or complete pops the corner off the board, reset that chip by licking up a small amount of yellow wood glue on the end of a toothpick.  Place the glue dot onto the wood where the chip came off, and place the chip into position.  With a water damp brush clean up any glue that seeps from underneath the chip.  Allow the glue to dry for about 15 minutes.  You are ready to continue carving.

straight chisel shaving in wood carving relief wood carved flower pattern carving detail lines using a round gouge
Shaving can be done using a straight chisel or round gouge.  Hold the tool low to the wood to cut very thin slices of wood. Check your carving for any loose wood fibers, rough cut corners, and harsh contours.  Use 320-grit sandpaper to lightly smooth the finished carving. A v-gouge is used to cut thin, detailing lines into your carving.  Use light pressure and recut the v-gouge lines as necessary to slowly drop the depth of the lines.









Irish_wood_flowerThe woodcarving steps for this Celtic Knot Dragon pattern by Lora Irish are complete.  You can leave your carving in the wood finish coloring or join me tomorrow as we work though the painting technique to create a stone-look to this relief carving.  Thank you for joining me today, Lora Irish.

While you wait for tomorrow’s post, here is the practice flower pattern that you can use in your free relief wood carving project.

Celtic Dragon Wood Carving by Lora Irish

Wood Carving Celtic Dragon 1

Beginner Level Wood Carving Project

This quick, easy, and fun Celtic Dragon pattern is perfect for your first endeavor into relief wood carving.  It uses a very basic set of carving tools, a bench knife, and a pre-routed basswood plaque.  Your dragon carving can be completed in just one weekend.

Over the next several days I will be posting all of the step you need to create your own Celtic knot relief carving project.  Please bookmark our blog so that you don’t miss any of the fun.  I hope that you will share this link on your favorite wood carving forum or message board.

Please take a moment and download our free PDF e-book, Your First Carving.  This is an in-depth look at the woods, tools, terminology, and techniques used in relief wood carving, written and shared by Lora S Irish.

Wood Carving Celtic Dragon 1
Wood Carving Celtic Dragon 2
Wood Carving Celtic Dragon 3

Celtic Dragon Wood Carving by Lora IrishSupply List:

8” x 10” x 3/4” (203 x 254 x 19mm) router-edged basswood plaque
Bench knife
Large and small round gouges
Wide sweep round gouge
Straight chisel
Sharpening tools and strop
220-grit sandpaper
Graphite tracing paper
Painter’s tape
Ruler and/or compass
Soft, clean cloth
Stiff toothbrush or brass wire brush
Thick terry cloth towel or non-slip mat
Depth Gauge

free celtic dragon knot by Lora IrishPreparation of the carving board

1.  Most of the supplies used in this project can be obtained online at your favorite wood carving supply house, through, or at your local large craft store.  The sandpaper, painter’s tape, ruler, compass, and brass wire brush are available through most hardware stores.

2.  Using 220-grit sandpaper lightly sand your plaque, working the sandpaper with the grain of the wood.  Avoid sanding against the grain or in circular swirl strokes.  This will leave fine scratches that can appear during the painting and staining steps.

3.  Sand again using 320-grit sandpaper.  Remove all of the sanding dust using a dry, clean cloth.

free wood carving celtic knot dragon pattern by Lora IrishTransferring your Pattern

Click on the pattern images to the right and save a copy to your Desktop.  Print one copy of each pattern – the outline tracing pattern and the shaded contour pattern.

Center the pattern to the board, secure one side using painter’s tape.  Slide a sheet of graphite paper under the pattern paper with the graphite side against the wood.  Using an ink pen and light hand pressure trace along the outer boundary lines of each element of the dragon.  Remove the pattern and graphite papers.

Learn more about how to work with your patterns and tracing.


wood carving tool setGather your wood carving supplies

For this carving I am using a nice quality Japanese carving tools set which includes a large round gouge, small round gouge, straight chisel, skew chisel, and v-gouge.  Carving tool sets can cost between $25 per set up to several hundred dollars.  I strongly advise any beginner to start with an inexpensive tool set while you discover which style of wood carving will be your favorite.

Learn more about creating a basic wood carving tool kit.

Suggested tool list at :

Ramelson 6 Piece Palm Set Tools, 1/8″ to 1/4″ Profile
Raemlson 6 Piece Long Handle Beginners Carving Tools
Flexcut 3 Knife Starter Set
FLEXCUT Carving Kit – 5 Piece
FLEXCUT Carving Kit – 11 Piece
Flexcut Slipstrop
Power Grip Carving Tools, Seven Piece Set
Walnut Hollow 8-Inch by 10-Inch Basswood Rectangle Plaque
Walnut Hollow 8″ by 10″ Basswood French Corner Wide Edge Plaque

stop cut in relief wood carvingCutting the background area

1.  Mark a 1/4″ margin using a pencil and ruler along the outer raised carving area of your plaque.  This 1/4″ area will remain uncarved, at the original level of the wood. During the next two steps treat this margin line as if it were a boundary line to your pattern.

2.  This project begins with dropping the background area of the plaque to free the dragon pattern for carving.  With a bench knife or large chip carving knife, cut along the outer boundary lines of the dragon pattern.  Hold the knife vertical to the wood and slowly pull along the tracing line.  Stop cuts are made in several shallow cuts instead on one deep lunge of t he knife tip.

3.  Using the small or large round gouge, rougehout the background.  Lay the center of the gouge about 1/2″ to 1″ from the stop cut tracing line.  Glide the gouge into the stop cut.  This will release a small chip of wood.


stop cut using a bench knife stop cut using a chip carving knife roughing out the background with a round gouge
1.  The background rough-out step begins with a stop cut made with a bench knife or chip carving knife. 2.  Hold the knife vertical to the wood and make several shallow cuts along the tracing lines. 3.  Use a round gouge to carve from the background area into the stop cut line at the pattern edge.









rough out cuttingthe background of a relief wood carving4.  The rough-out stage may take several layers of round gouge cutting.  As you deepen your background re-cut the stop cut along the outer pattern line to slowly drop the straight-edged wall along the dragon.  My final layer of round gouge cuts was worked with the grain (vertical to the plaque) to set all of the carving strokes in one direction. More about Background treatments for your relief wood carving.

Determining the depth of your relief carving

The depth of your carved background and carved design is determined by how thick your carving board is.  As a general rule the carving is cut to approximately 1/2 the depth or thickness of the wood at the deepest point.  For a 3/4″ board this makes the background drop about 3/8″ deep.  More about Determining the depth of a carving.

Please join me tomorrow, November 16, 2013, as we work through the shaping and contour steps for this Celtic Dragon Knot pattern.  Thank you, Lora Irish

Pyrography Feather Border 2

pyrography feather border by Lora IrishIn Pyrography Feather Border 1 we worked the steps for preparing your wood board, tracing the pattern, shaping the feathers, and adding drop shadows to this free, online wood burning project with a free pattern.  Today we will go through the steps for detailing the feathers, adding a drop shadow to the fur clusters, using painter’s tape as a masking agent, and working the geometric border using a dot-fill pattern.

This is a long posting, but I wanted to share this project over just two days.  Please, bookmark our blog so that you can return at any time to work through and complete this free pyrography project.

Wood Burning Step 5 – Detailing the feather

Click on any image in this posting for a large image that you can save to your computer.

creating a detailed wood burned feather

The curved shader has a slightly rounded edge along its thin metal tip.  This edge cuts a very fine line into your wood.  On low temperature settings, that line may have a very pale tonal value but you will be able to see the shadow along the cut edge of the stroke.  On higher settings the curved shader will burn slightly wider, darker lines.

Feathers are made up of many long, thin sections – mini-feather lines.  To create those lines set your temperature setting to a mid-medium tonal value and using the belly edge of the curved shader pull long detailing lines from the center shaft towards the outer edge of each feather.  As you pull these lines the starting point of the line will naturally burn darker and gradually pale in tonal value as you move through the stroke.

Work a second layer of curved shader lines in the feathers, starting from the outer edge and pulling towards the center.  Match the curve shape of these two layers of lines.

Wood Burning Step 6 – Adding a drop shadow to the fur

Adding drop shadows to your wood burning patterns

With the basic shape, shading, and detailing done in the feathers it is time to move into the fur clusters.  Using the ball tip or looped tip pen, a heat setting of dark-pale tonal value, and the dark-fill or scrubbie stroke, create a drop shadow in the left background for the fur clusters.  Since fur is made of many fine hair lines this shadow is not as dark as the more solid feather element.



Wood Burning Step 7 – Painter’s tape masking agent

working a geometric border in pyrography

Painter’s tape, a thick version of masking tape, can be used as a masking agent to block or protect your wood when you are working at temperature below the very dark tonal value heat settings.  This project has a straight line border which is perfect for painter’s tape masking.

With scissor cut small pointed triangles from your strip of painter’s tape.  Place the point in the point of the area you want to protect, laying the long, straight side of the tape along the pattern line. Press into position.  Fill all of the areas that you want to protect for this burning step with tape.  Use long, straight pieces of tape to protect the unburned border line above the geometric triangle line.   Please follow the image above for placement.

On a dark-pale to mid-medium tonal value setting, the ball tip or looped tip pen, burn tightly packed dots into the exposed triangles in the border.  More dots are added at the point of the triangle to give a solid fill effect.  As you work up towards the top of the triangle allow more open space between the dots.

Wood Burning Step 8 – Removing the painter’s tape mask

using tape to protect an area in wood burning

Because the painter’s tape protects any wood on which it lies you can bring your burning tip up to and even over the tape as you work your stroke patterns.  When you carefully lift the tape any burning strokes that passed over the tape are also removed, leaving a clean, unburned area.  You can see in the photo that the triangles between those that we just burned have very straight edges from the tape.

Transparent tape is not recommended as a masking agent.  This type of tape tends to be too thin to withstand the burned strokes.  It also can have too much adhesive grab, causing some of the wood fibers to pull off the board when you remove the tape.  Masking tape can be used as a masking agent for mid-range temperature setting.

Wood burning Step 9 – Working the second set of border triangles.


Repeat Step 7 – 9 for the remaining triangles in your border.  Use painter’s tape to mask off the pattern so that only the remaining triangles are exposed.  Use a dark-pale tonal value temperature setting, the ball tip or looped tip pen, and the packed dot fill stroke to burn these areas.  The heaviest dot fill is at the bottom edge of these triangles, with a less dense fill at the point.  Painter’s tape can easily be used over areas that have already been burned to protect that area from the work that you are about to do.  In this feather border the dark triangles are masked so that the pale triangles can be filled.

Wood Burning Step 10 – Adding the final detailing

detailing and outlining a pyrography wood burning

The final step to this wood burned feather and geometric line border is to add the feather decoration pattern, to accent line the leather strings, and to add fine hair lines into the hair clusters.

Using the ball tip or looped tip pen, a heat setting for a mid-dark tonal value, and a long line stroke, fill in the bar pattern on the left sides of the feather.  This mid-range temperature stroke will allow your previous shaping, shading, and detailing to show.

Using the ball tip or looped tip pen, a mid-dark tonal value setting, and the touch-and-lift dot pattern add the speckling pattern to the right side of the feathers.

Where needed, added fine mid-dark thin lines to accent your design along the leather string and feather shafts above the hair clusters.  Do not completely outline these areas.  If you have a tonal value burned area along the leather string you do not need the accent line.  If the leather string has an area of unburned wood or extremely pale burn, then add a thin line to define the edge.

With the curved shader and a mid-dark tonal value setting, burn this hair lines into the hair clusters.  Allow the hair lines to extend beyond its cluster, into the next cluster.  Sign and date your work.

Wood Burning Step 11 – Add color

using colored pencils with your wood burnings

Let’s complete this Indian Feather and Geometric Line Border pattern by adding coloring with artist quality colored pencils.  You can see the colored pencil chart in the image above.

There are several types of colored pencils, which you chose determines how clear, and clean your coloring is over your wood burning.

Student quality colored pencils are available at most craft stores, office supply stores, and even at your local drug store.  These are low quality pencils and use either a clay or chalk base to the pigments.  The clay body of this type of pencil leaves a cloudy, opaque look to the coloring and can block out your pyrography work.

Artist quality wax-based pencils are available through your local large craft store or online through an art supply house.  I use both PrismaColor and Derwent.  PrismaColor pencils have more wax to the pencil core and applies in a smooth, even finish.  Derwent tend to have a harder core and are excellent for extremely fine line work.  This style of colored pencil can be used in thin layers, one color over another, to blend the coloring and create new color hues.

PrismaColor also manufactures a watercolor pencil.  They are applied in the exact same manner as wax-based pencils.  After you have colored the area you can brush a light coat of clean water to the area, turning them into liquid watercolor for easy blending and shading.

Use a very sharp point to your pencil.  Add your color in thin, light coatings.  Three to five light coats of colored pencils gives a more even, smooth coloring.  Use one color over another to create new hues.  When you coloring is complete finish your Indian Feather and Geometric Line Border with several light coats of polyurethane or acrylic spray sealer.

Thank you for joining me in this free, online pyrography project – Lora Irish.

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