How to get started with Pyrography
Updated: Sep 7, 2022
Want to know how I discovered and began woodburning? Read on to learn how I turned this hobby into a side hustle (and hopefully make it my full time gig one day).
It all began with my daughters' drawing. She does these micro tip pen floral prints (I have it framed and hanging along with some of her other artwork) and I thought that'd be a great design to burn.
I knew about pyrography through social media but only envisioned it as life-like portraits. I admired the work of a fellow pyro pal, @auric.hout. Below is one of her works. It feels like the fox is going to jump out any second!
Well, that definitely was not, and is still not my style. The drawing my daughter created felt like something I HAD to do. In hindsight, I will say it was the universe calling, because I have no other explanation for the pull I was feeling towards putting her artwork onto wood. That calling took me to craft store for my very first wood burning tool and piece of wood.
Once that burner hit the wood slice, that was it. I was hooked. Below is my first ever wood burned artwork. It does not look like much today, but it changed my life! Boy, was I addicted! Immediately it was something I knew I could do and really wanted to do.
Wood burning is that easy!! If I can do it, anyone can. Now get yourself the tool and wood and go create a masterpiece. 😃
Seriously!!! This is not a trick. At least not when it comes to saying you can do it. However I will share with you some tips to make wood burning easier and a pleasurable experience. Perhaps you may find it as addictive as I did.
Over the years I have had people come to me at my booths and comment; "I remember doing it so many years ago" or "oh I did that, but it's so difficult". Don't join the list of those people. Get started on the right foot by reading my tips below and learning from my experiences!
If you don't want to do the research and reading, you can grab a DIY Prettyful Box to get started with ease! This kit comes with everything you need to learn the art of pyrography including all the tools and materials necessary to create your own wood burned cutting board!
Easy Steps for Wood Burning:
1. Work with unfinished wood. Available at almost all craft stores and online. Stains, sealants and finishes give off toxic fumes (inhaling those is not a good idea). Finishes will also ruin your burning tool. These products are meant for after you are done burning.
MDF is NOT wood. It is particles of wood mixed with glue. Do not try to use that. Burn on only natural raw wood.
2. Wood needs to be dry. As we walked our neighborhood in the summer and saw neighbor's falling trees, it was truly tempting to bring home a branch and cut myself few slices. Word of caution here. Fresh cut trees are not the best idea to make your pyrography artwork. Wood dries, cracks and splits over time. It's best to let it dry either naturally or in a kiln. Unless you want to wait few years or have access to a kiln I suggest buying from a reputable company. These are some of my go to small family owned wood suppliers.
3. Sand, sand and sand some more. If you take away nothing else from this article, take away this: SAND your wood smooth before you burn. I mostly use 220 grit sand paper but have gone to 400 depending on the wood slice. Many store bought wood slices state "ready to burn and craft". I still recommend giving it a go yourself once and feeling the difference. It will be easier and smoother to burn on.
4. Now you are ready to transfer or draw your design. There are several methods of transferring a pattern on on wood. The picture below is using graphite paper with one of my mandala designs (grab your free mandala design to start practicing). A detailed description on this transferring method is coming soon in another blog! You can also always draw your design directly on the wood slice. You can also burn without having any lines to follow if you want a more freehand look.
5. You're ready to burn! Once the design is on the wood slice, plug in your wood burning tool and create your masterpiece. Remember these few tips as your burning:
- Stay slow and steady. Seriously. Go much slower than you think!
- Keep your hand relaxed and let the heat do the work for you.
- Play around with the temperature settings. Some people like to burn at a lower temperature (this requires you to go a bit slower) and some like it super hot (be careful not to press hard when burning hot or your tip can break or bend).
- Give yourself breaks when tired.
6. Finish your piece (or don't). Determine whether you want to leave it as is maybe add color or apply a finish or sealant. Maybe hanging hardware on the back? Once happy with your work, take a picture. Post it social media and show off your new talent! Tag @prettyfulcreations so I can see your work!
Want to Learn How To Wood Burn?
Grab a DIY Prettyful Box to get started wood burning with ease! This kit comes with everything you need to learn the art of pyrography from the moment you open the box!
Or check out my classes available for in-person and online art workshops, or contact me to request a class, or for any other questions.