Pyrography

First Pyrography Project – Celtic Knot Bird 1

ROOSTER CELTIC KNOT COMPLETED BURN
Worked as if it were an 1800’s American stamp, this Rooster Celtic Knot pattern
will let us explore the basic steps used in most pyrography projects –

Outlining, Mapping, Backgrounds and Voids, Texture, Strengthening, and Detailing

Please click on the pattern, below, for a full-sized printable pyrography pattern.

BOARD PREPARATION

The pattern for this Rooster Celtic Knot is worked on a live-edge, basswood, 3/4” thick plaque that needs to be 9” x 12” or larger.

As shown in the Tracing Steps, I have allowed the extra room on the plaque to fall at the bottom of the wood, which will give me a space to add decorative cup hooks when the burn is complete.

Basswood is easy to obtain at most large craft stores. Although classified as a hardwood, this pure white, fine grain wood performs as a softwood, accepting very pale tonal values and extremely fine detail. At high temperatures and solid fills you can achieve solid black areas in your work.

The postage idea is a very forgiving subject for new pyrographers as the early 1800’s stamps, on which this is based, often were printed on coarse paper with somewhat ragged printed colors that could bleed into surrounding areas.

If your shading is a little uneven or your detail lines a little wobbly as you learn to control the wood, temperature setting, pen tip, and stroke, it will just add to the impression of an old collectable stamp.

So, relax and have fun!

1. Sand the surface of the wood to create as smooth a burning surface as possible.
Trace the pattern to the wood using a graphite pencil rub on the back of the pattern.

 

OUTLINE

2. Use the ball-tip pen on a low temperature setting of 4 to 5 for a very pale tonal value. Outline the tracing lines of the pattern. This light burning is to permanently set the pattern line so that your hand and work does not accidentally wipe away the graphite lines. This first outlining is not meant to be seen once the burning is complete, it is a guideline for you in your work.

Not all pattern tracings need to be outlined nor is it appropriate to do it for every burning theme. Obviously, clouds in a landscape scene do not have outlines nor do petals and leaves in a floral design. But as a beginner using a very pale outline step makes your first projects easier as you can’t lose the pattern as you work.

 

SAND, TRACE, & CLEAN



3. When you have completed the pale value outlining clean your entire piece of wood with an artist’s eraser, gum eraser, or architect’s eraser pad to remove any graphite left from the tracing steps.

Your hot tipped pen can permanently set those small graphite smudges or pattern lines into the work as you begin the burning. The outlining step just done (step 1) allows you to remove all that dirt before you begin your art.

 


4. After cleaning the wood, remove the eraser dust with a dry, clean cloth.

 

MAPPING THE SHADOWS AND SHADING

5. Mapping let’s you determine where you want your shading and shadows early in the work. Use the loop tip pen and a low temperature setting of 4 to 5, working the scrubbie stroke. Work a pale tonal value burn to those elements that lie underneath other elements. The tail feature beginning burned in the photo come from under the bird’s body. Next it tucks under the frame for the 3-cent area. Both of these areas are shaded. Where this same tail feather rolls forward and over the 3-cent frame it becomes the highlighted area that receives light, so you will be shading the frame as the underneath element.

These areas of pale value will be strengthened as you do further work on your art. This step let’s you think through where your shading will fall before you burn an area so dark that it can not be removed or altered.

 

WORKING THE BACKGROUND AND VOIDS


6. Use the loop tip tool on a medium-hot setting of 5 to 7, using a tight scrubbie stroke. Fill in the void behind the rooster that is inside the curved, top frame area.

Decide how you want to treat the background area of your pattern. Is that background part of the theme as mountains and sky behind a barn, or is it a void area – an area without design, pattern, or even importance to the work?

There are several options on how you treat your background and void spaces.
A. Leave the area un-burned, un-worked, and in the raw wood coloration.
This choice, in essence, ignores these areas totally as shown in the
second stamp project we will be doing tomorrow.

B. You can blacken the background with a solid, high temperature fill stroke.
This also, in essence, ignores the area as part of the pattern but can push
the pale and mid-tone value work of your design forward visually.

C. You can chose to use a static texture, repeat texture, or dot pattern as is worked in pointillism,
worked in a mid-range tone that contrasts to the main pattern elements.

Step 6 uses option B by blackening the background to the rooster to a dark-medium tonal value.

 

ADDING INTEREST


7. Large solid fill areas do not need to be absolutely even in tonal value work. Allow some areas to develop a slightly darker tone or paler tone than other areas to add a little extra interest to the overall area. In our sample I am darkening the background around the rooster’s head fathers and along the left side of the area where it touches the frame.   This is meant to be a work of art, so remember perfection can be boring.

 

CROSS HATCHING


8. Use cross hatching , worked with the spear shader, set of a medium-hot setting of 5 to 7 for the US frame background. By working the background of this lettered area with a defined texture of overlapping, crossing lines I can identify the area as a separate piece or element from the surrounding elements. The cross hatched US frame is an independent subject from the solid fill rooster area of the stamp.

 

MID-TONE VOIDS


9 There is a large void area that surrounds the outer scroll work of the stamp design. Use a medium-hot temperature setting of 5 to 7, and your loop tip pen to work an open dot pattern in this area.

 

SEPIA SCALE CHECK


10 At this point in the burning that most of the tonal values remain on the paler side of the sepia scale. You can always darken an area later as needed. You can’t easily lighten an area that you initially worked into a dark tone.

 

WIDEN THE TONAL VALUE RANGE

11 Widen your tonal value range by establishing several areas of solid fill black. Use your loop tool on a hot temperature setting of 8 to 10. Fill the areas with a tight scrubbie stroke. For our project these areas are the background to the 3 cent frame and the area above the top scroll design.

 

STRENGTHEN YOUR SHADING


12 At this point you have clearly created areas of un-burned pure white to solid fill black. Its time to strengthen your shadows and shading to fill in the mid-tone values. Working over the mapping areas worked in step 5 add more mid-tone shading to intensify your design.
Note this shading still follows the simplest shadowing step of darkening an element that is underneath another element. The closer that area is to the under tuck the darker its tonal value. As you move away from the under tuck area the shading will move to paler values. Use the tool pen that you originally used for each area.

 

DETAILING


13 The final step in the burning of this Rooster Celtic Knot stamp pattern is to work the detailing of the design. The tonal value work that you have already done should have covered most of the outlining done in step 2. By detailing the pattern you establish crisp separation lines between elements, divide areas of similar tonal value, and give emphasis to particular parts of the pattern.

Don’t completely outline your original tracing lines. Instead work fine lines where one area needs more definition. Allow breaks in your detailing and allow changes in your tonal value so that some lines will be mid-tone while others near the black range.

For major line work, as the top of the 3 cent frame where the rooster feathers intersect, I use the ball tip pen on a hot setting of 8 to 10. The ball tip tool also is used to add the spaced dot pattern along the outer edge of the stamp pattern. For very fine, very dark, short lines as seen in the rooster’s feather work, use your spear shader on its edge in a touch and lift motion.

14 Clean your project with your white artist eraser or architect’s eraser pad to remove any hand dirt or oil. Remove the eraser dust with a clean, dry cloth. Seal the wood with several light coats of acrylic or polyurethane spray sealer.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1 Definition of Pyrography – posted Nov. 17, 2020
2 Safety
3 Basic Tool Kit
4 Wood Burning Systems – posted Nov. 17th, 2020
5 One-Temperature
6 Rheostat Tools
7 Variable Temperature Tools
8 Wood Burning Pen – posted Nov. 18, 2020
9 Hand Grip Positions – posted Nov. 18th, 2020
10 Loop Tip Pen – posted Nov. 18th, 2020
11 Ball Tip Pen
12 Spear Shader
13 Spoon Shader Pen
14 Practice Board – Nov. 19th, 2020
15 Wood Burning Media – Nov. 22nd, 2020
16 General Kit Supplies – Nov. 22nd, 2020
17 Cleaning Your Tips – Nov 22nd, 2020
18 Grain Direction – Nov. 24, 2020
19 Sanding the Wood Blank
20 Transferring the Pattern – Nov. 24, 2020
21 Graphite on an Irregular Shape

22 Pencil Graphite Rubbing
23 Pattern Re-Alignment Marks
24 Tonal Values- Working the Celtic Blue Bird Pattern
27 Finishing
25 Patina
27 Working a Sepia Value Pattern
28 Rooster Celtic Knot Project – Dec. 7th, 2020

29 Double Dove Celtic Knot Project
30 Bonus Patterns

0

First Pyrography Project – 12 – Simple Bird Pattern

WORKING A SEPIA VALUE PATTERN ON YOUR PRACTICE BOARD

Click on the images for a full-sized, printable copy of the two patterns.

General steps to any wood burning design. As we work through the main project we will look at each step in-depth.


1. Trace or draw your pattern.
On a low temperature setting with a loop tip or ball tip pen, lightly outline the pattern lines. This is just to set the pattern lines so that you don’t accidentally erase them as your hand moves across the board.

 


2. Map your shadows.
Again, working at low temperature to create pale tonal values, begin mapping where you want your shadows and shading to fall. In general an object that lies behind or under neath another object will carry a shadow cast from the top object.

 

3. Make a decision about your background, void space.
Will your background be left un-burned in the palest tonal value, will you burn all of the surrounding area to the pattern to your darkest black tone, or will your background to the pattern hold more design burning as the distant mountains to a barn scene.

You background choice helps determine how dark you want your shading tones to be. For un-burned backgrounds as on our Celtic Branch Bird allows for very dark shading to be used directly in the design. The blackest tones are part of the burned pattern.
With black backgrounds that background holds your darkest tonal value and all design work must be done in a lighter or paler value than the background. On your 1 to 10 sepia scale if your background is worked as a 10 then you pattern burning must be worked in a 9 or lower setting to it to show separately from that background.

4 Graduate the shading across a full value range.
Graduated shading is worked net where some areas of your design will be burned in pale tones, some in medium tones, and some I the dark tonal value range. This is where you begin to develop the three-dimensional look of your design using the different pen tips and pen strokes. For our Celtic Branch Bird this includes a hot temperature, dot pattern burn on the branches using the ball tip pen. The belly area of the bird is worked in a pull stroke using the spoon shader, and the leaves have a soft, scrubbie stroke on a low temperature setting using the loop tip.

 


5 Create areas of contrast.
As your design develops you will need to establish both extremely pale areas inside of the burning as well as the darkest tonal values. You only need a few spots of each white and black value to create a strong contrast. For our bird the white highlights are under the eye, the center tail feather, and the top of curve of wood in the knot patter. Our black tones are the eye, the cap and the deep underneath curves of the wood knot.

6 Add your details.
Details are not outlines. They are small sections of an area that is re-enforces with a thin, fine line. Some areas of your burn may need no detailing as the tips of the tail feather for our bird. In other areas use a changing, thick to thin line as around the edges of the leaves. Allow a few areas of your design to have neither an outline or detail … just let the tonal value work stand on its own.

7. Clean and finish.
This little practice project is complete in the burning steps and ready to have any tracing lines or hand dirt erased with an artist eraser, gum eraser, or architect’s pad. You can add coloring through the use of oil paints, water-thinned acrylic paints, or colored pencils to the work. Finish with either an oil finish or spray sealer finish, following the directions of the can.

This is our the same Celtic Knot Blue Bird design that we have been exploring as a birch plywood burn.  In this sample the burn was worked on heavy-weight art-quality writing paper and matching envelope.  Color was added using colored pencils, and the work set with a light coat of matte spray sealer.

0

Update on First Pyrography Project E-Book
Click on the images for a full sized pyrography drawing.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1 Definition of Pyrography – posted Nov. 17, 2020
2 Safety
3 Basic Tool Kit
4 Wood Burning Systems – posted Nov. 17th, 2020
5 One-Temperature
6 Rheostat Tools
7 Variable Temperature Tools
8 Wood Burning Pen – posted Nov. 18, 2020
9 Hand Grip Positions – posted Nov. 18th, 2020
10 Loop Tip Pen – posted Nov. 18th, 2020
11 Ball Tip Pen
12 Spear Shader
13 Spoon Shader Pen
14 Practice Board – Nov. 19th, 2020
15 Wood Burning Media – Nov. 22nd, 2020
16 General Kit Supplies – Nov. 22nd, 2020
17 Cleaning Your Tips – Nov 22nd, 2020
18 Grain Direction – Nov. 24, 2020
19 Sanding the Wood Blank
20 Transferring the Pattern – Nov. 24, 2020
21 Graphite on an Irregular Shape

22 Pencil Graphite Rubbing
23 Pattern Re-Alignment Marks
24 Tonal Values- Working the Celtic Blue Bird Pattern
27 Finishing
25 Patina
27 Working a Sepia Value Pattern
28 Rooster Celtic Knot Project – Dec. 7th, 2020

29 Double Dove Celtic Knot Project
30 Bonus Patterns

 

 

 

 

Please click on the image above for a full sized pyrography tracing pattern.

0

First Pyrography Project – 11 – Tracing the Pattern

TRANSFERRING THE PATTERN

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

graphite paper
ruler
t-square
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.

 

GRAPHITE PAPER TRACING ON AN IRREGULAR SHAPE

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.

 

PATTERN RE-ALIGNMENT MARKS

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.

 

TRACING TO A LIVE BARK EDGED SLAB

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

0

First Pyrography Project – 10 – Sanding

GRAIN DIRECTION

The direction of the wood grain for your pyrography blanks is determined by the direction in which the slab was cut from the original log. A tree adds a new layer of growth each year, made up of vascular bundles which are similar to open drinking straws that move the fluid through the tree. How those vascular bundles are aligned on your blank determines the wood grain direction.

The grain direction of your wood blank does affect your pyrography strokes and tonal values.
End-grain cuts, as the top oval, often burns unevenly because of the open grain and growth rings.
The rectangular slab, shown in the back, is cut with the grain of the wood,
making it perfect for fine detailing and multiple tonal value work.

The top, oval basswood board is an end-grain slice that is cut across the circumference of the log, cutting all of the vascular bundle straws. Imagine looking straight down onto a hand full of drinking straws. What you see is the cut, open tops of those straws. End grain burns can appear spotty, and have irregular fine line detailing because of the end grain and growth ring openings.

The background board is cut with the grain of the wood, meaning that the tree was milled vertically from root to tip. Here you would see that same hand full of drinking straws from the side, showing the full, long length of the outer straws.

Both samples shown are called live-edge or live-bark cuts, meaning the outer, newest growth rings and the bark have been left on the board as a decorative frame for your work.

 

SANDING THE WOOD BLANK

Sand paper from 220 to 320 grit
Sanding pads

Foam core fingernail files
Heavy brown kraft paper

The smoother your wood surface the finer and straighter your detailing lines
can be worked. Always sand with the grain of the wood using progressively finer grit papers.
End with a good polishing of the wood surface using heavy-weight kraft paper.

 

Your wood surfaces will need a light sanding to create a smooth surface for the burning. Use fine grit paper, 220 to 320 grit, to remove the fine ridges and loose fibers on the wood. Coarser sand paper, lower than 220 grit, can leave sanding lines that can affect how the quality of your burn lines. Even fine ridges will cause your tool tip to skip or move as you pull the stroke resulting in uneven or non-straight lines.

Sanding pads have a foam core and are flexible making them great for curved surfaces as on a wood plate or the routed edge of a plaque. Available at your local drug store foam core fingernail files are a nice addition to your tool kit. They come in a variety of grits and are excellent for working deep carved detail areas of a wood shape. Foam nail files can also be used to clean your one temperature brass tips.

Bring with your coarse sand paper and work through to your finest. Always work any sanding device or tool with the grain of the wood to avoid creating fine scratches in the surface. For our photo sample the wood is being sanded in a circular motion to match the growth rings of the end-grain slab.

Heavy brown kraft paper as a large grocery store paper bag makes an extremely fine grit sanding tool and is often my final sanding media. Remove all the sanding dust with a clean, lint-free cloth before you begin your next steps.

 

0
Scroll to Top