What is pyrography ?

 Pyrography is the art of burning drawings or figures into wood, using a tool with a heated metal point or needle. When this needle comes in contact with wood it burns the wood, creating brown or black spots and lines with which drawings or figures can be designed

Today, the heating of the needle is done electrically. However, history books describe how, prior to the invention of electricity, pyrography tool already existed and worked with the help of benzene.

This is a picture of a pyrography tool based on benzene: the graphics-needles were made out of platinum and were screwed into the needle holder, which was connected through a rubber tube to a bottle of benzene. The tube continued on to a gumball, which could be squeezed by hand or foot to push benzene fumes from the bottle to the gumball. The graphics-needle was started with a flame, after which the benzene fumes kept the needle heated. By pumping the gumball slower or faster, the temperature of the graphics needle could be increased or decreased.

 The arrival of electricity brought with it the opportunity to develop simpler tools. Electrical resistance was added in the vicinity of the graphics needle which allowed the temperature to be changed through a switch that increased or decreased the electrical resistance and thus increasing and decreasing the flow of electricity and the temperature.

Besides the fact that it was easy to use, the electric tool also allowed the artist to have both hands free to work on his pyrography artwork. And´┐Ż there was no need for expensive platinum needles!

This type of electric tool, as pictured above, is still in use today. The big disadvantage of these types of tools is that the electrical resistance of 130 or 220 V runs directly through to the pyrography needle, which can be a safety hazard. In modern tools, this was amended so that only low and thus safe currents can reach the pyrography needle. Also, the isolation around the needle was significantly improved.

There are several different sorts of pyrography needles to transfer the heat to the wood and thus create the drawing or figure.

 

Depending on the result you are looking for, you can use circular or triangular needles. In order to obtain shadow effects in pyrography, a needle with diagonal sides is used.

 All sorts of wood can be worked on with pyrography, but the best results are achieved when using soft white wood, such as lindens wood.

Before you can start practicing the art of pyrography, you need to transfer a drawing onto the piece of wood. This can be done either directly or through tracing a model using carbon paper. Through the knowledgeable use of different types of pyrography needles, you can create different colors ranging from light brown to black by applying fine lines or grooves and shadows over large surfaces. 

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The quality of the pyrography tool and the needles are important, but the hand of the artist who holds the needle is what determines the quality of the art work. The examples shown elsewhere on this site provide an overview of the results that can be achieved through pyrography.