This morning I am working on getting your supply list ready for the Feathered Green Man Leather Journal Pyrography Project and came across a few photos on how to clean the graphite tracing lines from your wood burning project that I thought I would share.
I prefer to either use a graphite tracing paper or graphite pencil lead rubbed over the back of my pattern my paper as my tracing media. Graphite leaves a pale to medium gray line on our working surface that has no oil or wax, and therefore is not a permanent marking.
I do like to remove those tracing lines as early in the burning as is reasonable and will even do an extremely pale tonal value burned line before any shading work is done just so that I can erase the graphite right away.
A white artist eraser works wonderfully for wood and gourds. These are our rougher wood burning surfaces. Do not use an eraser that has any coloring ( that pink one on the end of your bright yellow #2 pencil) to it as the color dye can rub off onto your project.
An architect’s eraser pad – a fine mesh cloth bag filled with eraser grindings – is perfect for our finer medias as paper, leather, and chipboard (paper mache). Since the eraser bag is flexible it works well for wood carvers that want to remove any carbon build-up from their wood burning details on the carving.
A dry ‘Magic’ eraser not only removes the graphite lines from your leather or wood project, it also picks up any oil and dirt that has been left from moving your hand across the surface.
In the photo sample above, Feathered Green Man Leather Journal Pyrography Project, I first cleaned the graphite tracing using my Architect’s eraser pad. Then I followed up with a light cleaning using the dry ‘Magic’ eraser … and,wow!, was I surprised at how much more dirt I picked up …
That ‘Magic’ eraser is now a permanent addition to my pyrography tool kit.
Plaid was kind enough to send me a sample wood burner the other day … like I need another wood burning unit to add to my dozen plus one temperature, soldering style wood burners that I have collected over the 25 years of being a wood burner …
Well, I didn’t know it, but I did!
This is a one temperature burner that is pre-set at the low temperature of 750 degrees – 200 degrees lower that the average pre-set unit, which makes it perfect for leather burning pyrography.
Plus … it has the standard four interchangeable tips that we all know and love that are available with most one temp tools.
I already have several low temperature, soldering style tools that I often use for my leather crafting. Each of those comes in the package with only one, cone point tip for fine line work.
Plaid has included the universal writing tip, leaf shading tip, the fine point cone tip, and the wide ball tip, all for under $17.00.
Plus Plaid’s low temperature leather burning tool has an on/off switch right on the cord and a handy little stand for safety.
I happened to have a sample journal cover that I could grab as a practice board … It has been quite awhile since I have used the soldering style pen and every pen, no matter who manufacturers it, needs a little practice time to get your correct grip, pressure, and movement.
So, here is my first using the Plaid one temperature leather burning tool – feathered green man journal cover. Pale tones are created using the cone point tip and a light hand pressure, wide strokes are made with the universal tip and medium hand movement. The darkest tones were made with the wide cone tip and a simple touch-and-lift stroke. The tip of the leaf spear shader is wonderful for thick-and-thin line work as in his beard.
And then I did this one … a giraffe leather journal keeper with suede cord.
Number three is also a journal keeper made from scrap leather and with elastic cord.
The wide cone tip is so much fun to use it lead to this wood flower journal cover – number four.
And number five is this easy leather journal that has the front cover cut open to show the burning on the inside flap.
My whole weekend got eaten up by a Plaid One Temperature, Low Temperature, Interchangeable Tip Wood Burning Tool … grin!
Tracing a Pattern There are several ways to transfer a pattern to a carving blank – carbon paper, graphite paper and pencil rubbing. All three products transfer a pattern to wood, but which you use is determines by the craft you are working.
Carbon paper Originally used to make multiple copies of a typed or written document, carbon paper comes in black or dark blue. Tracings made using this product have heavy, dark, bold lines. Carbon paper is perfect for transferring patterns for long-term projects, as the traced lines will not fade or rub off, even after many hours of carving work. However, carbon paper creates a traced line that can not be erased with an eraser, and often can not be removed with fine sandpaper. I use carbon paper with my wood carvings, but never with pyrography.
Graphite paper This paper is lightweight with a waxed graphite coating on one side, and comes in both pale gray and white. When tracing a pattern, the graphite side is placed against the wood, resulting in a tracing with medium-gray colored lines. Graphite paper is available in sheets as small 8 1/2″ x 11” (216 x 279mm) and as large as 48” x 96” (1219 x 2438mm), and also comes in rolls several yards long. Graphite paper can be used several times, so keep previously used pieces for later tracings. This product works well for both carving and wood burning.
Pencil Rubbing To use the pencil rubbing method for transferring a pattern, rub a soft #2 to #6 pencil over the back of your pattern paper. The higher the number of your pencil, the darker or blacker the rubbing will be. Then, place the pattern face up on your carving blank and begin tracing it. As you trace along the pattern lines, a thin, light gray coating of pencil will be left on the wood blank. Pencil rubbing lines can be erased using a white artist’s eraser, making it an excellent method for transferring patterns for carvings that will include some pyrography work. This is my favorite form of tracing as it is so easily removed after your pyrography or carving work is done.
Simple steps for tracing a pattern Tracing a pattern onto your carving blank is an important step; you want to make sure you center the pattern on the wood. Follow these steps to trace a pattern using graphite paper.
1 Gather your supplies. To transfer a pattern to your wood blank, you will need a copy of the pattern, carbon paper, an ink pen, a ruler, a T-square, and tape.
2 Mark the center of the blank. Using your ruler and T-square, mark the center of the carving blank using a horizontal center line and a vertical center line
3 Align the pattern with the center lines. Fold the copy of the pattern into quarters. Place the pattern on the blank, aligning the fold lines in the paper with the center lines drawn on the blank. Tape the pattern into place .
4 Adjust the pattern as needed to fit the shape of the wood. For our sample tracing the board has a curved top that affects the placement of the pattern. By sliding the design down along the vertical line the square pattern is now centered to the square area of the plaque.
5 Place the carbon paper, and trace. Mark any adjustments necessary on your pattern. Slide the carbon paper in place under the pattern paper, and trace along the outside lines of your grouped elements. Check your tracing before you remove the pattern and carbon paper to ensure you have transferred all the necessary pattern lines .
6 Create a border if desired. If you like, you can use a compass to create an outside border or margin line around the pattern .
7 Add in the details as you carve. As you progress through the carving stages, cut small pieces of your original pattern paper, secure them to your wood blank, and trace the fine line details to that roughly cut areas.
8 Print several copies of your pattern. As you work you will often find that your carving will cut away some areas of the traced pattern or that your burned shading will obscure some areas of your traced line. You can cut small sections of your extra pattern out from the larger design and spot trace as needed.
With a long, three-day weekend coming up in the US, you will have lots of time to fill with fun, new projects. Below are just a few of the ideas you will find here at LSIrish.com or at my carving-pyrography pattern website, ArtDesignsStudio.com.
Preparation – Begin by cleaning, and sanding your wood to create a smooth surface on to which you can transfer your pattern. Remove all sanding dust using a dusting brush and clean, dry cloth.
Chose Your Tracing Media – There are three primary tracing products which are graphite paper, carbon paper, newspaper, and a soft #4 to #8 artist pencil.
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Graphite Paper – Graphite paper can be purchased through both office supply and craft stores. It comes in several colors, including gray, white, and blue for easy tracing onto different colors of wood. Graphite leaves a very fine line on the wood and can be erased with a white artist eraser after you have completed your project.
Carbon Paper – Carbon paper comes in 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets and has a very dark, heavy layer of tracing media on the back surface. It is available in deep blue and black colors. Carbon paper lines do not erase easily and should be carved or scraped away as your work your project. Use this media on projects that will receive excessive handling or for long-term projects as it holds up very well. Because carbon paper was primarily used with typewriter to create multiple copies, you may need to do a little searching to find it.
Pencil Rubbing – My favorite way to trace my pattern to the wood is to rub the back of the pattern paper with a #4 to #8 artist pencil. This creates a layer of graphite that will easily transfer to the wood surface as your copy the pattern lines with an ink pen. Pencil rubbings work extremely well for wood, gourds, and even leather. Woodless pencils work wonderfully for tracing.
Newspaper – Heavily printed sheets of newspaper works wonderfully as a tracing media. As you trace along the pattern lines the printer’s ink from the newspaper will leave a dotted line on the wood. This process is especially good for extra large projects as out door signs or long, wide mantel boards. The ink is easily erased with a white artist’s eraser.
1. Adjust your digital pattern as necessary to fit your project piece. Print several copies of your pattern – one for the main tracing, one for cutting and tracing small areas of the pattern, and one for a reference to the detail lines of the design.
2. With a right angle triangle or small t-square mark the center vertical line of your project’s surface.
3. Use your ruler to find and mark the center point of your vertical line.
4. With the t-square or right angle triangle, draw a horizontal line across the project surface at the center point of the vertical line.
5. Fold your printed pattern into quarters, matching the outer pattern lines on the sides of the pattern. Place the folded pattern on to the wood, aligning the paper folds to the marked lines on the wood.
If you will using a pencil rubbing for your tracing media, open the folded pattern and rub the back of the pattern to completely cover it with pencil graphite. Refold your pattern and begin the positioning steps.
6. Unfold your pattern, continuing to match folds in the pattern paper with your guidelines. Cut several small strips of painters tape. Use the tape to secure two sides of the pattern paper to the wood surface.
7. Use a colored ink pen to mark any changes you want to make in the pattern, so that you will follow your changes during the tracing process.
8. Slide your tracing media – graphite paper, carbon paper, newspaper – under the printed pattern with the tracing surface against the wood. Trace along the pattern lines with a colored ink pen. Use a light pressure, just enough to transfer the pattern line without leaving an indented score line from the ink pen’s point. When your tracing is complete lift the pattern paper at one of the un-taped corners. Check your work before you remove the pattern paper and tape.
9. Trace only those lines that you really need for your initial working steps. For my Beta Fish relief carving I needed only the outlines of each area of the fish and the outlines of the grass to work the rough out carving steps.
10. When your project work is done, remove any remaining tracing lines using a white artist’s eraser. Avoid colored erasers that can leave dye streaks on your carving or pyrography work.
11. Click on the small image on the right for your free full-sized, printable Beta Fish pattern – a design from Relief Carving Workshop, by Lora Irish.
12. This second example is from the Wood Spirit Carving project posted on the Wood Carving Illustrated Forum. The pattern was transferred to the wood using typewriter carbon paper because the project would require intense handling.