Pyrography is the Art of Drawing with Heat

Pyrography, the art of fire drawing, is also referred to as Poker Art or Woodburning

Pyrography is the art of drawing with heat (or aka: fire drawing) and woodburning is just as the name implies, it is pyrography done on wood. To more accurately describe the tools used to do pyrography, I will refer to the tools more appropriately as Pyrography Tools since people buying them will probably be using them on a variety of materials as well as wood.

The term Pyrography literally means "writing with fire" or "fire drawing". It comes from the Greek pur (fire) and graphos (writing).

"Pyrography dates from the 17th century and reached its highest standard in the 19th century.
In its crude form it is pokerwork." It can be done using specialized pyrography tools, or using a heated stick (which would be referred to as poker art) which is still being used to this day. Other creative artist have used sunlight concentrated with the use of magnifying glasses as well as butane torches. The process of fire drawing has been practiced by a number of cultures including the
Egyptians and probably dates back since the dawn of recorded history.
Evidence shows that the art form probably dates back to prehistory, when early humans created
designs using the charred remains of their fires.

A wide range of tones & shades can be achieved using a variety of tip styles, how the tips are used, using variable temperatures & by the techniques used by the artist.

There are a wide variety of woods & other materials that are commonly used by pyrographic artists but an important factor that needs to be considered is safety & wood toxicity. I offer a tutorial on safety which discusses the many materials that are safe & those that are not. There is also tutorial that specifically deals with burning on gourds. One of the most commonly woods used & recommended for beginners is basswood. The reason is that there is not a lot of grain to deal with & it offers a very nice light background which enhances the contrast between the burning & the wood. Soft woods such as basswood don't give you the clean, crisp detail you can achieve with hard woods but they are ideal for beginners to gain confidence & control over their burnings.

Over the years Pyrographers have experimented with other materials to burn on such as: canvas, leather, paper, tagua nuts, gourds & many more materials. It's important to know what is safe & what is not. Leather, as an example, must be vegetable tanned rather than chemically tanned which leaves harmful chemicals in the leather which are toxic when burned.

Pyrography tools can be used to do flat burning on wood, leather, canvas, paper and other natural materials as well as burning on gourds and enhancing carvings. Pyrography tools are very versatile. They are available as single-temperature, solid tip burners as well as variable temperature burners but the bottom line is that they are all designed to do pyrography on a variety of materials.

Gourd artists have started using pyrography to burn into the hard shell exterior of a gourd. Working with gourds is another material that it is extremely important that you take precautions for inhaling the mold that can be left on the outside of the gourd as well as on the inside should you burn through the hard shell.

How Pyrography Tools Work & Other Resources

As a professional pyrographic artist and instructor over the last 18 years I have had the opportunity to use a wide variety of pyrography tools manufactured in North America. Some I owned and others were owned by students in my class which I was able to work with during classes. It has given me an opportunity to see the performance of each of them and as a dealer for over 18 years it has given me the opportunity to work with several manufacturers and see how they handle warranty issues and complaints. Let me say that it has been very interesting to say the least both as a user and as a dealer/customer. I have a perspective that most consumers don't have.

I have compiled information over the years on the burners manufactured in North America & have made that information available on my website. Included in this information is how burners, work, FAQ's on some of the burners, etc. Feel free to check out some of the information.

Below are links to help you find some of this information.

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Happy Burning ©,

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