How to Clean Your Wood Carving and Wood Burning Projects

How to Clean Your Wood Carving and Wood Burning Projects

Antique Road Show may call it patina … but I call it dirt!

A.K.A.  The Joys of Murphy Oil Soap

In wood crafting – wood carving and wood burning – patina is the natural color change that any wood surface goes through with age because of oxidation.  This darkens the wood because the iron in the wood begins to rust over time.  A clean, fresh piece of white pine will turn into a deep golden-orange color as its patina develops.

This morning I have been taking photos for my next book with Fox Chapel Publishing and needing a backdrop I grabbed one of my very first relief carvings – a photograph box.   But even before I got it to the photography table I knew that carving desperately needed a good cleaning.  What I am posting is the same procedure that I use of my wood burnings.

Because we display our carvings, handle our carvings, and use many of them on a daily bases our artwork does begin to pick up an ugly layer of common household dirt that both dulls  the surface finish and begins to fill in that fine detail carving that you worked so hard to achieve.

This project was carved in butternut, circa 1995, and used in my first book Classic Carving published by Taunton Press.  Over the twenty years of being used as either a jewelry box or photo box, the lid had become quite dingy.

Note here, this is not some precious 200 year old antique … at least not yet!

I use Murphy’s Oil Soap.  Murphy’s is a concentrated wood cleaner that is safe to use around children and pets. Not only can it be used on raw wood but also over most of your polyurethane or acrylic sealers.  Remember to do a small test on the bottom of your project before you work the carving.

  1.  Dust your work well before you begin.  Use condensed air to clean what you can out of the deep details.
  2. Mix about 1 cap of soap with 1 1/2 cups of warm water.
  3. With a kitchen dish washing brush, work one coat of soapy water over the surface of your carving.  Let the soap mix sit on the wood for a few moments so that it can loosen the dirt.
  4. Gently scrub over your carving or burning with the kitchen brush to lift the dirt.
  5. With a large ox-hair brush, work the puddles of dirt out of the crevices and corners.
  6. Use a clean, lint-free cloth to rub away the dirty soap.  You do not need to or want to rinse your work after you have wiped the wood.  The oil in Murphy’s will refreshes your wood surface.
  7. Repeat if necessary.

After my jewelry box thoroughly dried it was ready to be returned to my dresser as my family photo box.  The shine you see on the box edges and carving curves directly comes from Murphy’s Oil Soap.


L S Site Map

L S Site Map

Discover the numerous free online projects, patterns, and tutorials available at

Wood Carving, Relief Carving, Whittling, Fish Decoy Carving, Wood Spirit Carving

Pyrography, Wood Burning, Gourd Art Burning


Posts by category

Powered by "WP Sitemap Page"

Pyrography Leather Boot Belt Project

Pyrography Leather Boot Belt Project

Learn in this free, online pyrography project how easy it is to add pyrography burnings to small leather boot belts, leather belts, and leather wrist bands.  Step-by-step instruction and free wood burning patterns.


Our leather burning project comes from my pyrography book, Art of Leather Burning. It joins Landscape PyrographyGreat Book of Wood BurningThe Little Book of Wood BurningPyrography Basics,  and Arts and Crafts Pyrography, in my wood burning library. All Available at

Pyrography Leather Boot Belt, Part One Construction

Pyrography Leather Boot Belt, Part Two, Leather Burning


Other pyrography leather wrist bands, and boot belts found in Art of Leather Burning.

Adding bead links to your pyrography leather belts is as
easy as working a line of small holes using an awl.  The bead links
can then be threaded to your leather using a jump ring.


This set of wrist bands use readily available jewelry findings to create
the end clamps, lobster hooks, and split rings.


Wrist bands can be thin, as shown above, or made as a miniature
belt with multiple holes to fit any friend.


This boot belt uses an American Indian design.


Hope you enjoyed this free, online pyrography leather project.  For more fun please visit:

Leather Burned Jewlery

Leather Purse Pyrography, Greenman

Leather Purse Pyrography, Double-Needle Stitching

Pyrography Leather Journal

Pyrography Leather Bullet Journal

For more boot belt pyrography pattern ideas, pleases visit our pattern website at


The Passing of Loved Ones

The Passing of Loved Ones

I am so saddened to share the news of my husband Michael’s passing in early May, 2019; and my mother Dortha’s death in mid-July, nine weeks later.

Michael has been my lover of 45 years, husband of 42, my dearest friend since the day I met him, and the father of our son for 34 years.

You know him as the driving force behind,, and major participant in the numerous books, tutorials, and teachings that we have shared with the carving, pyro, and craft communities.

In 1997, Mike, an experienced woodworker and woodworking tool collector, created our first website and took my art and my love of teaching out to the world. He created the opportunity for us to share our lives – both as partners in love and partners in business together here in our home studio.  His empty desk is just ten feet away from the kitchen coffee pot,  twenty feet from our sitting spot on the back porch, and ten feet away from my craft table.

Mike was the one who answered the phone, at 11 pm, and talked you through your first experiences in downloading from the internet.  He patiently walked you through so many exasperating problems – how to open a zip file, where you could get a free graphics program, and why you couldn’t download to your IPad – we all experienced as new computer users, new carvers, and new home business people.

He would help anyone with any problem, and if he didn’t know the answer he would stay with you on the phone until the two of you figured it out.

I can still hear him in the early hours of the morning, on the phone, talking with someone on the US West coast on how to set up and use their new printer … his laughter filling the house as he freely shared his knowledge with you as well as your emotional ups and downs as a new computer user.

His voice is still here in my posts to the forums, Facebook groups, and my blog where he is in the background dictating, editing, and adding juicy little tid-bits of information as I frantically try to type fast enough to keep up with him.

Mike once stopped me in my furious typing to ask me which finger I used to type with … he was holding up his two index fingers.  I laughed, and had to explain to him that I used all ten.   After that if he need to type anything longer than three sentences he summonsed me with a “Susie!

Often, without complaint and without any envy or jealousy, he had to take the back seat to my growing career and my public face on the net and through publications.  He did so with a smile and with constant encouragement to me.  And he is the only man for whom I would drop anything I was doing just because he needed another cup of coffee.

He would have been 64 years old this week, but he passed far too soon … I could have done another life time with him.


My Mom’s death followed Mike’s nine weeks later.  She made it one day past her 94th birthday, a major feat considering the pain and illnesses from which she suffered.  Mike and I were blessed that she was able to share our home and our lives for 12 years.

It was from my Mom that Mike and I learned the craft trade through her home ceramic business, Dottie’s Art Corner.  I have often shared that while Gloria Steinman and Barbara Milkuski were burning their bras on campus in protest to women’s equality my Mom was already doing ‘It’.

She took her love of crafting from her kitchen table in 1968, when Dad lost his job because of government rifs, to become the largest tri-state ceramic/crafts distributor by the early 80’s.

Her dedication and her selfless efforts totally supported our household, put three of her children through college, at one time employed eight people, and paid for my parent’s retirement home.

Beyond being a great Mom, she was a great role model for whom I am deeply appreciative for all that she shared through her life with me.



Both Mike and Dot died at home through the help and support of the Frederick Co., MD Hospice, who’s program they entered in late February this year.  My son and I are so grateful for their support, and knowledge as we as a family worked through these experiences together.

So if I have been overly quiet this entire year, please know that it was because my focus had to be on them to help them through this last stage of life as easily and comfortably as possible and not because I was ignoring you, my friends and craft companions.

And if I have been slow in sharing this with you, please forgive me as sometimes life does become a touch overwhelming.

Hopefully I am ready to pick myself up and get going again …

Thank you for letting me share this small part of my life with you today.

~Lora “Susie” Irish



Wire Wrapped Copper Jewelry Designs

Wire Wrapped Copper Jewelry Designs

Please share the fun on FaceBook, Pinterest, and Reddit!  Thank you!!!!

Even a wood carving – pyrography – line art artist needs a hobby.  Something that
is quick, fun, and inexpensive.  something that you can work in the rec room,
and something that will make fantastic easy gifts.

My extra hobby is wire-bent, wire-wrapped copper jewelry!

The Wire-Bent Links Bracelet, shown above, is a fun design created from a selection of the over 300 bent-wire links that you can create featured in Easy & Elegant Beaded Copper Jewelry, published by Fox Chapel in 2011.

As you practice the wide variety of copper wire bent links that you can create you will end up with a wonderful pile of small, bright, shiny links – ready for your next jewelry project.

By creating a simple straight loop beaded link chain, you now have the bracelet base on which you can hang those links, using a jump ring or split ring.   This is one design where the more the better, so let your creativity run wild.



Supplies include a few simple tools –

flush wire cutters

round nose pliers

nylon grip flat pliers

long nose pliers

18-gauge copper wire

20 – to 24-gauge copper wire

assorted bright, shiny, bling beads

assorted jewelry findings


Books by Lora Irish

Lora Irish Copper Jewelry Book

Easy & Elegant Beaded Copper Jewelry

How to Create Beautiful Fashion Accessories from a Few Basic Steps

You can make affordable and stylish copper wire jewelry with a few simple tools, some wire and beads. Learn over 300 different link styles and how to create your own with step-by-step instructions and outstanding instructional photos!


Wire Wrapped Copper Jewelry Book

Wire-Wrapped Jewelry Techniques:

Tools and Inspiration for Creating Your Own Fashionable Jewelry


This comprehensive guide to wire-wrapping jewelry covers all the techniques beginners need to know!

  • 30 expert wire wrapping techniques step-by-step, including simple loops, cluster wrap, adding beads to wrapping wire, adding a coil element, wrapping sequential layers, and more
  • 8 stylish DIY projects for statement jewelry like necklaces, pendants, hairpins, and earrings
  • Comprehensive guide includes step-by-step instructions, lists of materials and tools needed, and helpful tips and tricks
  • Beginner-friendly for anyone who is new to wire wrapping or just wants to brush up on techniques





copper jewelry bent wire links