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.
Sometimes I love being concise, careful, and controlled in my art … and then sometimes I just want to get down dirty, messy, slimy, anything goes, and hands-on. This String House is one of those ‘dirty up to the elbow’ fun projects from my newest book, Crafting with Gourds.
Introduction Any natural fiber material can easily be collage to the surface of your gourd using archival white water-based glue. This fun bird house uses paper coffee filters, cotton cheese cloth, burlap, garden twine, and cotton cord to create a riot of texture. When the collage work is dry we will use oil pastels to brightly color the high ridges of the texture.
Preparation Wash, clean, and cut a 10” high, 8” diameter, 23” circumference kettle gourd following the general preparation instructions.
Supplies 10” high, 8” diameter, 23” circumference kettle gourd #2 to #6 graphite pencil wax-coated paper cups archival white water-based glue plastic mixing spoon bowl of water for dipping large #6 to #12 square brush latex gloves coffee filters cheesecloth burlap assorted string, cords, and twine scissors
Acrylic craft paint dark brown – bird house black – mobile
set of 12 to 24 oil pastel sticks spray sealer
Step #1 Divide the gourd into three sections.
Divide the outside of your gourd house into three sections using a pencil to create the guidelines. The top section will be worked with coffee filters, the second section with cheesecloth, and the bottom section with burlap.
Step #2 Mix your glue
In a wax-coated paper cup mix three tablespoons of archival white water-based glue. Add one tablespoon of water, mix well.
Work the top section with coffee filters. Work one coffee filter at a time. Dip the filter into clean water, then wring out any the excess water. You want the filter damp, but not dripping.
Step #3 Gluing the coffee filters into place
Apply one coat of glue mix the top section. With a large square brush, apply one coat of the glue mix to the top section of your gourd. Place the filter onto the glue and press firmly with your brush.
Add more glue if needed. Apply more glue with your brush to the filter as necessary to secure the coffee filter into place. Use the palm of your hand to press the thickest wrinkles into place.
Step #4 Add the cheesecloth
Work the middle section with cheese cloth. Mix a second batch of archival white water-based glue if necessary. Cut your cheesecloth into small 3” to 4” squares. You can work several overlapping layers of cheesecloth at a time to increase the texture for this area.
Dip the cheesecloth squares in clean water, then blot well on paper towels. Brush a coat of the glue mixture to the central area of the gourd. Place several layers of cheesecloth onto the glued area and use your brush to press it into place.
Step#5 Work the top half of the bottom section with burlap.
The bottom section of the gourd is covered with 3” squares of burlap. Dampen and blot the burlap pieces on a paper towel. Coat the bottom section of the gourd with your glue mix. Lay one piece of burlap onto the gourd and apply a second coat of glue mix over the burlap. Continue working along the pencil line for this section, overlapping each new burlap piece on the last piece applied. Work just one ring of burlap pieces along the bottom.
Step#6 Leave an area of the gourd un-worked.
Visual contrast is important when you want to artistically emphasize texture. The un-worked bottom area for this bird house gives your eye an area of smooth gourd surface to compare to the textures you have created.
Step #7 Gather a variety of cotton and twin strings.
While you can use just one type of string, using a variety adds to the textured effect of this collage.Cut and tie a string at each intersection of the textures.
Lay a long piece of twine around your gourd. Move the twin to an intersection between two of your textured areas. Tie a square knot and cut the excess twine from the knot to about 1” long. Brush a generous coat of the glue mix to the twine to hold it into place. The twine wrapping does not have to fall exactly on the joint, let it fall where ever it may.
Let your strings go over the bird house hole as you add then. Glue the string, including that area that is over the hole. After the glue has dried overnight you can cut the small sections of the string that cover the hole without effecting the string at the hole sides.
Step #8 Add one more, even coat of glue mix.
Let your gourd dry for about an hour, then apply one more glue and water mix to all of the textured areas. Dry overnight. Even though the glue is well dried it will have a slightly tacky feeling to the surface. This will diminish with the spray sealer step at the end of the project.
Apply one to two coats of burnt umber brown or black acrylic paint to the entire surface of the decoupaged gourd. This creates a dark background for the color that will lie on the high texture in the next step.
Step #9 Playing with oil pastels.
Oil pastels are ground pigment that is compressed in an oil-based stick. They are available in set that have a full color range.
Using one oil pastel stick at a time, rub your pastel over one of the textured areas. The pastel will adhere to just the highest areas of your texture, leaving the deep areas in the dark brown paint.
Although not shown in this project you can blend oil pastels by laying one color over another lightly. This lets a little of both colors show and creates the new blended color.
You can clean off any pastel color that has gotten into the next area by rubbing the area with your fingers.
Step #10 Apply oil pastel to the strings.
Use contrasting colors for your strings by rubbing the oil stick along the top edge of the string.
Finish this bird house with two to three light coats of spray sealer.
Step #11 Making a wind chime Shown in the top photo
Guidelines for the Border Pattern Step 15: Border and trim patterns for Henna Tattoo designs can be either organic or geometric. I chose a small triangle pattern with an arched bottom line for my plaque.
Using a pencil and ruler mark a line 1/4″ from the outer edge of the plaque. This area will become the outer, un-burned margin along the plaques edge. Measure and mark a second line 1/2″ from the first margin line. This will be the burned border area. Measure and mark this area into 1/4″ segments.
In the first border segment pencil a line from the upper right corner to the lower left corner, cutting the segment along the diagonal. In the next segment make the diagonal line from the upper left corner to the lower right corner. This creates two of the three sides of your first triangle shape. Continue working across the border area until all of the triangle shapes are established.
Lay a small coin or bottle cap at the inner base of your triangle shape. Adjust the coin until it touches both legs of the triangle, then trace along the coin with your pencil. This creates quick, easy, and accurate arcs. Pencil mark a small circle on the inner border guideline, centered in the arc.
Burning the Border Step 16: I worked the upper triangle shapes with a lattice-work pattern. Begin by burning a fine line about 1/16″ from one side of the penciled guideline. Stop the line 1/16″ from the guideline at the bottom intersection point of the triangles. Repeat until you have worked four thin lines in the inner triangle.
Next, repeat the above step working from the opposite side of the inner triangle. This creates a crossed-line lattice. Use a touch-and-lift dot stroke at the intersection of each line in your lattice-work.
The outer or lower triangle has been shaded from a medium to pale tonal value, starting at the outer point of the triangle using a tightly packed scrubbie stroke. Outline the three sides of the triangle.
Using a touch-and-lift dot pattern make a medium-sized dot at the intersection of each triangle along the inner edge. Burn the circle that lies on the guideline to a medium tonal value. Touch-and-lift a small dot evenly spaced between these two dots.
Close-up of the Border Work Step 17: Here are the close-up photos for the border pencil lines and the burned triangle border work.
Finishing Step Step 18: Using a white artist eraser, work the eraser across the entire surface of your finished burning to remove any remaining tracing lines, pencil guides, and the normal dirt and oil accumulation that occurs during the burning process. A white eraser contains no dye that can permanently mark and mar your pyrography. Remove the eraser dust using a soft, clean cloth.
Pyrography can and does raise small wood fibers from the surface of your plaque as you work. Using a crumbled paper bag lightly sand over your plaque to remove these little fibers.
Sign and date your work. As a habit I sign my projects of the back of the plaque. Your work is ready for the finishing spray, sealer, or oil finish of your choice.
I started this project to answer the question “Why would I want a Walnut Hollow Detailer that has less power, reaches a lower temperature, and that is not temperature adjustable when I already have a Versa-Tool and several higher-end burning units?”
Many of us discovered pyrography when the only electric burning tool was a soldering iron. That one temperature tool had a permanently installed wedge shaped pen tip and when plugged into the wall socket reached a very high temperature just below 1000 degrees. The only control we had over our tonal values and burn lines was determined by how lightly we touched the tip to the wood, and how long we allowed the tip to stay in contact with the wood. For very pale tonal values you had to unplug the soldering iron, let it totally cool down, then you plugged it back into the electric strip and did your pale tones before the tip reached full temperature. Scorching and halos were simply part of any burn.
The Versa-Tool is a fantastic wood burner which I highly recommend. The inline rheostat allows you to control the temperature of your tool tip and gives you so much more control over your tonal values. It is a perfect entry-level wood burner at an extremely reasonable price that you will use throughout your pyrography hobby.
But, yes there is a but, the Versa-Tool is temperature set for multiple hobbies which include soldering, stencil cutting, hot-knife cutting. Because it is a cross-craft tool it has a high temperature range, near the 1000 degree mark, and you can experience both scorching and haloing even with careful attention to the rheostat setting.
My high-end burners – RazorTip, Colwood, and Optima – are also cross-craft temperature set with even a hotter capacity than the Versa-Tool. This type of burner uses a great deal of electric power, and I have watched as my high-end units tend to drop in temperature when the air conditioner or electric heat kicks on. My Optima has such a high range that I don’t think I have ever had mine set above a ‘6’ on a ’10’ dial. All of the above cross-craft styled tools can need a recovery time after you burn a long line or work to fill an area with a texture pattern.
When Walnut Hollow created the Detailer they had only one craftsman in mind – the pyrographer! This tool was made for us, and us alone! That 750 degree permanent temperature setting is just high enough to create clean, crisp black tones without scorching our wood, gourds, leather, or paper burnings.
It quickly hits its set temperature and holds that temperature throughout long burning sessions. Because of the lower temperature setting, I never had to pause to let the ball tip recover from a long line stroke or from fill stroke work. In fact, I never noticed any variation in the tip heat or in the tonal value of a burned line throughout this 6 hour pyro session.
Since Walnut Hollow really thought ahead, all of the interchangeable tips that you have for your Versa-Tool or even an older Walnut Hollow one-temperature soldering iron tool will fit and work wonderfully with your Detailer. So they are giving us the full range of burning pen tips that we love and use all the time.
“So why would I want a Walnut Hollow Detailer that has less power, reaches a lower temperature, and that is not temperature adjustable when I already have a Versa-Tool and several higher-end burning units?” Because it lives up to its advertising – “A perfect temperature for precision and detail” pyrography burnings.
Treat yourself today to a tool made to fit anyone’s budget and created with you, the pyrographer, in mind by visiting WalnutHollow.com. Oh, and while you are there get yourself a Versa-Tool! The Walnut Hollow Detailer and Versa-Tool are so reasonably price you can easily afford both.
Thanks for joining me in this Henna Moon Pyrography Project.
Disclaimer: I am not associated nor work for Walnut Hollow and have received no financial compensation for this review. All opinion expressed here are mine and based on my experience using this tool.
Our tracing pattern is the line art for just the outlines of each element in this Henna Moon design. During these steps we will work to fill each element and areas inside each element with Henna-styled details and patterns. You can re-burn the same line art outline time and time again, and create new projects by changing which pattern elements you fill with shading and which fill patterns or textures you use in each element.
Simple Shading in the Henna Flowers
Step 9: Henna tattoos often feature stylized flowers, detailed leaves, and repeat patterns of circles, arcs, or triangles. After the outline for each element is complete that element – flower, leaf, scroll – is detailed with small repeat patterns as spiral curls, wavy lines, lattice lines, and stems with bud dots.
I began the inner detailing of my henna tattoo elements by working the four large flowers that surround the Sun and Moon faces. Using a light pressure touch with the pen tip of my Walnut Hollow Detailer and a tightly packed scrubbie stroke I created a pale tonal value shading in the flower petals. That shading is placed at the bottom of each petal where it tucks under another petal. The outer edge area of each petal was left unshaded – unburned. This gives a white area to the upper petal and a dark area to the lower petal.
Note: Even when using simple shading I still want some areas left un-burned to become my white tonal value, some pale sepia tones, some medium tones, and some dark tonal values. In Henna Tattoos that pale and medium tones come from light pressure, fine line strokes. Deep mid-tones and blacks come from touch-and-lift dot stokes. The blackest tones are tightly packed touch-and-lift dots.
Line Detailing in the Sun Rays
Step 10: The outer ring of sun rays was worked in a simple long wavy line that followed the outline shape of one side of the ray. The sun rays that lie behind the upper curve of the moon are accented with small dots, worked along a diagonal line. This is just a touch-and-lift stroke with the ball tip of the Detailer.
Note: You can use just about any geometric pattern, line pattern, or texture fill stroke to create the detailing inside of your flowers, leaves, and scrolls in Henna Tattoos. So for each flower chose or create a new fill pattern, and use that pattern for each of the petals in the fill. Leaves, paisley-shapes, and scrolls can be either pattern filled or area where you wood burn a small flower and leaf motif.
Detailing the Sun Circles
Step 11: A stem-and-bud dot pattern was used in the inner row of Sun rays and a triangular pattern fills the circle that encompasses the Sun face.
Note: As I worked the Sun rays from the outside towards the inner ring near the face I packed my strokes tighter. I have not changed my temperature setting or how much pressure I am using on the pen. Adding more lines into an area darkens the tonal value appearance of that area.
Creating the Leaf Details
Step 12: The leaves of a Henna Tattoo are just as decorative as the flower petals or scrolls. One set of leaves uses a line stroke with a circular spot in the center. Another group of leaves has an inner outline with the outer border worked in parallel lines and the inner area in a small flower pattern.
Working the Lower Scroll Element
Step 13: I have added the shading and detailing to the lower scroll element by using a leaf and scallop design inside of the scroll.
Detailer Review: At this point in the burning I have worked for about three hours. The Detailer, throughout this entire time, has never skipped a beat. It has held a consist, constant, even temperature with each and every stroke. As you look at the close-up, below, you can see I still have no hot spots where one line intersects or turns and angle, I have no scorch marks, and my line work is the exact same tonal value throughout the stroke’s pull.
I will be posting the final steps to this project tomorrow, Friday, Oct. 30th. We will work the bottom accent elements, then create the pencil guidelines and burn the border trim. Plus tomorrow I will give you my final decision on how the Walnut Hollow Woodburner Detailer has preformed … but, I expect you already know I am totally delighted with its performance throughout this project.
PS – At this point, three hours in, I still have no carbon build-up on the ball tip of the Detailer and not one gray-black carbon smudge because of a dirty tip … big grin!!!!