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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.”
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.