PDP Exclusives by Rebecca

Thursday, September 15, 2011

No, I said "PYROgraphy!"

Modern Rosies "Pop Rivet" (guest writer) Lian Fick said she wanted me to post an intro how-to on pyrography and for half a second, Brooke thought she'd have to put an 'NSF...' label on it. LOL! Not to worry! We keep EVERYTHING very family friendly here. Pyrography, put simply, is wood-burning. Actually, it's the marking of any surface by burning, but for today's post, let's just stick with the basics.

To get you started, here is a video I did last year.  It's just me, burning a very simple outline onto a wood panel and talking a bit about tools and techniques.

And a selection of the Q&A from my Facebook page and YouTube channel, just for you:

Q. I want to buy a wood burning tool for my brother...where can I find something like that?

A. Your question is answered in the video!
Response: Busted for not watching first! VersaTool it is!

Q. What kind of wood are you using for the work? cause you seem to put much strength when burner down.. And sth else... You don't shadow it at all? or paint it up with acrylics etc? It's just wood colour and the lines? Ah.. And... what's that sponge (?) you use at the end.. ?  That's all :D  Nice work!  Thanks!!!
A. OK, let's take these one at a time:
I work on basswood artist panels which hold up much better over time.  Pine, like the plaques at craft shops, is much softer and burns faster and deeper, but can warp a bit.  
"Tijuana Makeover" process: from burned
outline to finished mixed-media painting
The video only shows the first step of my process. Not only do I paint these, but I also use inks, image transfers and mixed media in all of my pieces.  I photograph nearly every stage of each painting and even have an entire Flickr album dedicated to my process.

The 'sponge' you are asking about is a foam sanding block by 3M that you can get in any hardware store.  You could also use plain ol' sandpaper.

Q. I want to wood burn some images on my skateboards. Would primer and lacquer affect the image in any way?
A. Yes - Primer and lacquer would not only affect the woodburning, it could be toxic! Even if you sand off the top layer of finish, there could be residue in the wood.  It's best to start with a new board or to make sure you've removed everything from the wood. 

Q.  How can I prevent "drag"? Is my wood too hard or my tool not hot enough? I've only tried once, but I wound up with pockmarks rather than a smooth line.
A. You need to have a smooth, even contact with the wood, so use one of the chisel tips I show and not one of the penpoint tips. If you rewatch the beginning where I show my technique for lifting the leading (back) edge of the tip, I think you'll see how I do it.  And yes, you DO need a nice hot, tip.

Great question, Lian!  I hope this is helpful to everyone.  Remember, this is just how I incorporate pyrography into my own style.  There is a LOT MORE to pyrography than just simple outlining - just  Google it to see some mind-numbing art.  I even have a friend who does detailed, shaded pieces with a magnifying glass and the sun instead of a woodburner.  (True story.)

Keep the "Ask Krissi's Art Studio" questions coming and I'll see you next week!  ~Krissi

Krissi Sandvik is a mixed-media artist and the owner of Krissi's Art Studio, home of Skelekitty and Friends.  She was recently named "best tutorialer on the web" by her friend Rachelle Rose.


  1. Oh wow, that's totally amazing!

  2. Awesome! I used to love doing this, Krissi may have rekindled my love for it again :)

  3. Thanks guys! Remember, you can incorporate this into another craft and have fun with it without needing to become a master. <3