First Pyrography Project – 11 – Tracing the Pattern


Tracing supplies
#2 to #6 soft graphite pencils
colored ink pen

graphite paper
transparent tape or painters tape

There are two methods of transferring the design to your work surface that either use graphite paper or a graphite pencil rubbing to the back of the pattern paper.

Both of these products are laid under your paper pattern so that the transfer side, the graphite side, is against your work surface.

As you trace the lines of your pattern on the pattern paper the carbon or graphite paper leaves a fine line on your work surface. Both of these tracing papers should be used carefully as they can not be easily removed from your work surface after the burning is complete.

Of the two I do use graphite paper with its soft pale gray coloring especially on gourds, paper mache and darker woods. For working on basswood, poplar, or birch I prefer the rubbed graphite pencil method.

What type of wood or natural surface you are working can decide what color of
tracing paper you use.  Shown above is white graphite paper for a
walnut end slab and black graphite paper for an oak slab.



Wood, gourds, and even cut leather do not necessarily come in a perfectly squared regular shape. In this sample the pattern is being traced to a live-edge, oval basswood slab that is very irregular in its dimensions.

Begin by determining which edge of the oval you want at the top of your project and which edge will therefore become the bottom. Position the board on your work table accordingly.

With a ruler and soft #2 pencil, mark a pencil line vertically across the board as your center reference line.

Measure and mark the center point of this line with your pencil to find the center point of the horizon line. Place a square edged form, as a notepad, against the vertical line with the top of the form touching the center point just made. Make several pencil marks along the top of the form. This give you two or more points to position your ruler to create the center horizontal line. Pencil in the center horizontal line.

Hold your printed pattern up to a light source so that you can see through the pattern. Fold the pattern into quarters, matching pattern lines of both sides to each other and on the top and bottom to each other. Crease your pattern with your fingers along the fold lines.

Match the fold lines of the pattern paper to the pencil guide lines on your board. Use transparent tape or painters tape to secure the pattern paper to the surface.

You can now slide a piece of graphite tracing paper under your pattern paper with the graphite side against the wood. Using a hard H pencil or ink pen trace over the pattern lines.

When you remove the pattern and graphite paper from your board you will have a soft gray line pattern on the wood.



There will be times when you will need to add more detailing from your pattern to your wood by working a second tracing.

Your first tracing may only need the outlines for large, general areas that will be shaded before you work any detail lines. There is little point to tracing those detail lines wit ht he first tracing as the shading tonal values will cover them up.

So before you lift your pattern from your surface after the first tracing, use scissors to cut several reference areas along the edge of the pattern paper. My cuts are made on the top right and bottom left corners of the pattern.
With your soft, #2 through #6, pencil make several pencil guidelines at these reference area, moving the pencil from the paper onto your burning surface.

When you want to add more tracing lines simple re-align the pencil marks on the pattern with those left of the wood. Tape the pattern back down to the wood and you will have your pattern in the exact position in which it lay with the first tracing.



Live edged slabs, although rectangular, are not necessarily square of both end cuts. Start by determining which end cut will become the top edge of your project.  Align that edge with the grid makings on a self-healing cutting mat.  Work your alignment marks for the pattern from the mat grid, not from the sides or edges of the board.

For more info, please click on the fish.

how to trace your pattern to the wood

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