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Transfer Techniques

Updated: Jan 13, 2022

"I cannot draw to save my life, how am I supposed to make these wonderful pyrography works of art?"

That is the the most common complaint heard over and over and over. To tell you the truth, I was one of those people 5 years ago. Our daughter once remarked that I have managed to butcher even a stick figure 😃

So how am I making these logo and custom wood burn pieces with food puns, quotes and designs? Simple!! I learned some simple design transfer techniques!

There are multiple ways one can transfer designs and patterns on to a surface of choice (check out my unconventional blog). For this article we will assume to work on wood.

The secret to a professional finished work with clean crisp lines is a clean transfer. Especially when it comes to calligraphy, words and letters...

Let's begin.

Technique 1: Paper and pencil

Works best for small designs or when in a hurry and out of other supplies. The idea is to create a carbon/graphite paper effect without a carbon paper and using materials you most likely have at hand. Namely, a paper and pencil.

  • What you need is a wood slice (get a list of my favourite wood vendors in this article), a printed/or hand drawn design as well as a pencil.

  • Take your design and flip it over. Rub pencil all over the back of your pattern making a grey/black background. At this point be careful to NOT touch this black side as you will get the pencil/graphite on your fingers.

  • Cover the entire design with pencil.

  • Turn the design right side up. Position it on your wood. Secure with tape at one point.

  • Trace the lines of the design. The black rub/background will transfer on the wood.

  • Once the entire design is transferred, you are ready to burn.

Technique 2: Carbon or Graphite paper

This technique is an upgrade to the pencil method shared above. I call it an upgrade as there is no messy rubbing of pencil, works great with any size design and allows you to reuse the pattern multiple times (pencil method maybe reused as well, but requires rubbing every time).

PS: Carbon paper and Graphite paper are two different types of paper. They are often mistaken as the same. "While carbon paper leaves lines that stay put, unwaxed graphite transfer paper lays down a line that's erasable and won't bleed through paint" -

I like to use graphite paper (see below in pic)

  • You will need a wood slice, a printed or hand drawn design, carbon/graphite paper (available in most craft stores) and pencil or color pen of your choice (gel pens and ball point pens work best for me). I recommend a bright color pen since it's easier to see and will prevent any missed spots.

  • Take your printed design. Place it on the wood slice. Tape a corner to secure.

  • Slide the carbon/graphite paper under the design, dark side down and trace with a tracing tool, pencil or pen. Note in the picture below the bright blue pen makes it easier to see that letter 'b' is traced.

  • Carefully lift the graphite and design a little, DO NOT remove entirely or remove the tape yet. First peek to ensure the entire design has been transferred. Continue tracing and peeking till the design is fully transferred and you are satisfied.

  • Now the graphite and design can be taken off. Voila! You are ready to burn.

Technique 3: Heat transfer

I absolutely love this method of design transfer. It is my favorite and go to technique. Specially when working with letters. Why? Cause one can get the BEST and most accurate transfer which then results in a clean, professional burn.

  • You need a wood slice, printed design in reverse or mirror image (this is important as we are working with reverse transfer method). Ensure that you are using a laser printer as an ink jet won't transfer. Grab yourself a Walnut Hollow Creative Versa Tool with transfer nib (a good alternative is clothes iron).

  • Place your design on the wood, with the printed side facing down. In other words, you should be looking at the blank side of paper. Secure in a corner with tape.

  • Heat up your tool on low (we want to begin at low temperature and increase heat if needed). Rub over the design in a circular motion and apply some pressure. The design should begin to transfer.

  • If not, simply increase the heat and/or pressure. You will get the hang of the correct heat and pressure with practice. Once you have been all over the design and confident that it transferred, slowly begin to peel the paper off and again, peek before removing everything. It may stick to wood at some points and that's ok. Repeat this method for any spots missing. Remove the paper when completely satisfied. You are now ready to burn.

  • Note that the transfer is light. That is perfectly fine. As long as you can see where to burn, a lighter transfer is better.

Above are all 3 wood slices from paper & pencil, graphite paper, to heat transfer. Find the technique most comfortable for you. No more restricted to drawing directly on the wood slice by hand.


Finally I encourage you to check out more articles by Prettyful Creations for a wealth of information about pyrography and making your own unique wood slice art. Do tag us in your creations. Connect with us, write to us and let us know if our trips and tricks have been helpful to you.

Get creative. To find ideas to burn check out @prettyful.creations and pinterest @prettyfulcreations

Learn how to get inspired here and learn how to do mix media on wood and make your own henna cones!

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18. Nov. 2023
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Fantastic tips and explanations, accompanied by images. Huge thanks to you for being willing to share what you have learned. I can't wait to get started with all of my pyrography tools and designs! Thanks again so very much. Jude Hibler

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