Burning Images onto Trays

I had begun my pyrographic work with a simple burning tool that would produce a deep, dark line. I wanted the lines to be seen from a distance when the colour was added.

The burning tool is being held here by a stapler to stop it from falling over between burning applications. Along with this simple burning tool, I use a pencil and an eraser. I also use sandpaper to sand off pencil marks when erasers won't do and to sand down burn marks when necessary.

I draw my images freehand onto my birch plywood. I want large lines with some detail, but not necessarily every feather. I'm not trying to achieve true realism as much as an attitude or stance within a limited environment.

Here I work with a window open which limits me to seasonal work, although I have worked in winter. However, air movement can influence the heat at the tip and thus the line work. I am challenged with the need for constant adjustments to the wood, the burning tool and the conditions in which I work.

Note the heavy lines produced. I have seen the pyrographic books that work very hard to create soft, smooth lines and extremely detailed images, but that's not in me.

When using this tool I do get burn burrs where the wood fibres lift up. When done I will sand the surface lightly to eliminate the burrs.

In most of my ply wood work I try to utilize the actual grain of the wood in the overall look of the picture. In some cases I add washes of pigment to enhance the grain; other times I accent the natural wood grain by the polyurethane finish.

And, on it goes. One does have to be aware of the smell of burning wood and possibly resins as well as the heat of the tip. I do stop after I have done an area to take a walk, as I do tense up, let the tool's tip cool down and to breathe fresher air. I don't wear a respirator, yet.

When I am finished the burning I check to see that the image stands out and stands alone as a composition. I am also aware of the grain of the wood in that composition.

I then work through the painting of the image. I check my notes and pictures of the bird that I have gleaned from my library or from the internet. Once finished I polyurethane the plywood front and back, at least two times, and lightly rub with 000 steel wool in between the coats.

Now, I don't know why I do not have a photo of the finished image that I have been demonstrating , but I have substituted in another one I had completed. The series of bird pictures I had made were eventually made into trays -I do feel that art can be used in a practical way while retaining that artistic aspect. These trays grace outdoor events at the cottage and on backyard decks.

The simple tools used can create a pleasing effect if you have a steady hand and a well drawn image.


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