Pyrography - instructions and technique as well as motifs and shades
- What is pyrography "> Material and preparation
- Tools for pyrography
- safety first
- Motifs and shades
With the so-called pyrography you achieve unique works of art by branding motifs in wood or other materials, such as leather. At the beginning, it's a bit tricky to find the right technique, as with almost any creative work, but practice is known to do the trick. Our detailed DIY guide will introduce you in detail to the pyrography - with general information, practical tips and tricks for successful shades and overall results as well as some motif templates for beginners.
Pyrography is a beautiful and exciting, but also an extremely complex hobby. In the special technique, there is a lot to consider from the choice of material to the preparation and the main act of firing (with shades and so on) to the finalization. We therefore recommend that you not only read the basic instructions, but also intensively deal with the "trappings" that we treat comprehensively. Our article provides you with everything you need to know about pyrography in logically prepared sections. Start your brand new adventure with Talu now!
What is pyrography?
In pyrography or pyrography (from the Greek: "pyr" = fire, "graphie" = the writing / descriptive art) is a traditional technique that is dedicated to the decoration of wood, cork, leather and other materials by burn marks,
Note: Branding is a highly complex matter. Anyone who wants to learn the art and constantly improve, should be aware from the beginning that the technique takes quite a lot of time.
The historical development of pyrography
Pyrography has a long history. Even the ancient Egyptians and several tribes from Africa practiced in the "fire art". They used simple means to decorate natural workpieces made of wood or leather by the baking technique. Glowing (because in the fire heated) metal tips were used.
Many centuries later, the electricity that was no longer an option in our lives came to light. This also changed the tool used for pyrography: Simple soldering tools replaced the "fired" metal tips. From the middle of the 20th century, these devices were specially specialized or optimized for pyrography.
There are now numerous branding utensils that can be adapted to different needs, desires and goals in relation to the pyrography by a stepless temperature regulation and by different fuel pins and loops. Meanwhile, the pyrography is also very trendy.
Note: The wide range of modern tools ensures that you can create natural tones and shades by branding. Depending on the used element, you will get fine lines or very dark areas. Even impressive effects such as the fluffiness of an animal's coat are possible.
For pyrography any motive comes into question. Selected ideas for beginners, we show you in the last chapter of the guide.
Material and preparation
Especially at the beginning it is advisable to work with the classic - ie wood. Later, if you are more experienced, there is nothing wrong with decorating work pieces made of leather with the technique. Other potential materials for the pyrography are cork and paper.
Important: Never burn plastics!
Tips for choosing the wood:
- Soft, light woods such as birch, maple, linden or poplar are ideal. Due to the softness and the flat structure, the branding succeeds without restriction. In addition, the burned-in motifs are perfectly accentuated by the bright surface.
- Hard woods such as beech or oak, as well as woods with a pronounced annual ring texture such as pine or spruce are less suitable. The intense grain and the dark hue limit the design options.
Note: Anyone who works with hard and / or extremely grained woods must always set a higher firing temperature.
Tip: In order to start cheap in the pyrography, it is advisable to buy plywood panels from the hardware store and to practice on this and to conjure up the first small works of art. But beware: Do not burn to the glue layer, as burning glue releases toxic fumes.
- Use natural, untreated wood.
- Under no circumstances may you resort to wood produced under high pressure (chipboard, MDF, OSB). The same applies to chemically treated, sealed, glued or soiled woods.
Tips for choosing the leather:
- For subtle shades and contrasts, light leather is especially good.
- Use vegetable-tanned leather. Otherwise, when burning, toxic gases may be produced.
Tools for pyrography
In principle, you still have the opportunity to act with a normal soldering iron. The advantage is the low price. However, such a device does not offer the same detailed design options as a proper - intended for pyrography - Brandmalkolben. That's why we recommend spending a bit more money from the beginning if you are interested in the art.
Tip: Our own experiences and the opinions of other hobby and professional artists in the field of pyrography show that the devices Brenn-Peter Junior (for beginners and advanced) and Brenn-Peter Master (for ambitious advanced and professionals) of the brand Hobbyring are very suitable. They come as extensive sets therefore - with a burning station for stepless temperature regulation, a handy firing pin and several burnishing loops and essays.
Speaking of burned loops: They act as interchangeable and replaceable "heads" of the fuel pen and are available in various designs. Depending on the shape of the focal loop, you will achieve very different effects. Here is a small overview of the most important variants:
a) Tip, thin burn loop: It is recommended for contours and (other) subtleties.
b) Curved Burning Loop: It is recommended for larger areas and to create soft transitions.
c) Round, flattened burn loop: It is recommended for different details, is virtually an all-rounder (depending on the attitude angle, from fine lines to dense areas some creations are possible).
d) Wide, flattened focal loop: It is recommended for shading and also for fine, thin lines.
Tip: Prior to the first correct work, it is very important to familiarize yourself with all (included) burnishing loops in order to use them optimally when painting.
Other important tools for pyrography include a screwdriver to change bends when using a burn grinder and a wire brush to remove burnt film deposits caused by burning.
Tip: If the burning loop is full of deposits, its effect diminishes visibly. In other words, it does not burn the wood as consistently as it did at the beginning. Every so often you should pick up the wire brush and rub the loop on it for a short time.
The Brenn-Peter-Paket (and also in most other sets for pyrography) contains a suitable cleaning brush.
A little extra tip for advanced: useful additions for the fuel pencil with the burn loops are a gas burner and a grinder. With the first you reach large shades; and with the latter subtleties can be worked out, such as fine strands of hair or whiskers in animals.
Incidentally, you need the grinder anyway to prepare the wood for the pyrography.
Here are the necessary tools for pyrography on wood:
Also elemental for painting:
- carbon paper
- Ruler (optional)
- Circle (optional)
- Template (optional)
- Template (optional)
- Wire brush (usually included in pyrography package)
- abrasive paper
Pyrography is not for children. The technology poses quite health risks. When burning the wood surface, smoke (carbon) is generated. In addition, burning may produce harmful fumes (through the burning of resins, fungal contaminants or chemical additives in the wood). Expose yourself to these vapors for a longer period of time, diseases of the lungs and nose as well as brain damage are possible.
Please follow the instructions below to ensure the required safety:
- Only burn in well-ventilated areas.
- Wear protective mask and protective goggles.
- Use extraction system for vapors.
- To access high quality pure wood.
- Never set the temperature of the firing pin too high. Work better at low temperatures and burn multiple layers.
- Never leave your branding device unattended on the mains. After all, it is an electrical object that can cause a fire.
- Always wait until the current burn loop is cool before burning to avoid burning.
Step 1: Cut the wood if necessary.
2nd step: Sand the wooden surface.
Tip: The finer you grind the wood surface, the better and more accurately you can work afterwards.
3rd step: Carefully remove the dust created during grinding (eg with a vacuum cleaner).
Step 4: Transfer the motif (s) to the wood in pencil.
Tip: You have several options. Whether you draw your motifs freely on the wooden board or use a self-created / ready-made template is up to you. But: in order to transfer the contours of the original well on the wood, you should place between the original paper and the wood carbon paper. Then draw the lines on the template - that's how the motifs get on the wood.
Step 5: If necessary, correct the motif (s) on the wood (with eraser and pencil).
Step 6: Connect the fuel rod to the power and set the desired temperature.
Tip: To speed things up, turn on full power first. The tip turns red quickly. Then return the controller to the required level.
Step 7: Engrave the subject (s) with the firing pin and the selected focal loop (s).
Step 8: Carefully sand the wood again (only lightly).
9th step: remove the dust.
Step 10: Apply clear coat (several layers) and allow to dry.
Learning branding - the very first steps
Do not start with a correct motive, but start with the tool. On a cheap plywood panel you can try out your new firing pin and the burnishing loops and get a feel for the individual elements and for shades.
- Hold the firing pin like a pen - between your thumb and forefinger.
- Do not press too hard to avoid wearing the loop. Carefully preparing the surface, the tip glides over the wood.
- Experiment with the temperature setting. The following applies: Low temperatures produce bright and high temperatures dark pyrography. Important: Always adjust the temperature to the wood used. If the wood turns black too quickly (with corresponding smoke), you should turn back slightly; If the loop does not leave tracks fast enough and strong enough, increase the temperature.
- Always paint from top to bottom.
- Do not pull long lines, but always go in stages (otherwise there is a risk that you will get stuck somewhere in the wood).
- Smaller mistakes can usually be sanded away with sandpaper and then repaired with the firing pin.
Tips for the continuous extension of technology
To improve the technique gradually, one thing above all helps: Practice! Gradually, you know exactly what burn loop is and what model you should use for what purpose. Paint thin and strong lines, test shades and textures.
Here are a few simple, basic tips that can help you optimize your branding results:
- Fast movements with the firing pin produce lighter, slower movements and darker lines / surfaces.
- Better keep the temperature too low than too high, because: Too bright lines can darken later without any problems, but hardly brighten up to dark lines.
- Along with this, work out each area of your pyrography in layers, always starting with the brightest.
- Start with the background of your subject and then take the foreground. It is much easier to burn the foreground into the background than vice versa.
- Do not forget to keep the tip - ie the burning loop - constantly clean. If it is dirty, you are no longer really in charge of your work.
Tip: The pyrography can be painted with varnish before finishing. Especially suitable are conventional crayons (pay attention to high quality!), Oil crayons or acrylic paints.
Motifs and shades
Pyrography can be used to refine a wide variety of objects - from the breakfast board to the leather bag. Here are some ideas for themes and shades as an example:
Important: Despite the use of a sealing clearcoat, you should never expose your pyrography to direct sunlight. Otherwise, both the wood and pyrography fade.