What is Pyrography? Something You Should Try!

Image Artist: Ricciolidinostalgia

What is Pyrography and Why Should You Give it a Try?

Have you ever gone to a fair and seen a vendor selling handmade wood plaques with images burned into the wood?

That’s pyrography.

Pyrography is the art of decorating wood, leather, canvas, dried gourds, bamboo, cloth, or other materials by burning marks into them. The word comes from Greek and means “fire writing”.

A Little History

Pyrography isn’t new. In fact, it’s been around for thousands for years. The ancient Egyptians practiced it, as have ancient African tribes. The Chinese practiced it during the Han Dynasty in 220 BC, and they called it “Fire Needle Embroidery”.

In the 1800’s, the Europeans invented pyrography machines. This led to a surge of pyrographers. Fancier, more automated machines were created at the beginning of the 20th century making it easier to create pyrographic works.

However, pyrography is popular pretty much all over the world. It is a traditional folk art in many parts of Western and Eastern Europe, as well as Africa and South America.

What Does It Look Like?

I’m so glad you asked. Here are a few pyrographic works:

pyrography examples

How Do You Do It?

First, you need a natural material for your canvas and a burning tool.

  • If you’re going to use wood, it’s best to use Maple, Basswood, Birch, or Poplar. These are the “safest” to burn with low toxicity levels.
  • You can opt for dried gourds, canvas, cloth, or leather as well.

When it comes to burning, there are several options:

  • Solid-point burners have a solid brass tip that heats up using an electrical cord. It operates at one temperature.
  • Wire-nib burners have variable temperature controls.
  • Laser cutters can be set to scorch the material instead of cutting all the way through it. You can use software to etch your image if you use a laser cutter.

Basically, you should get yourself a beginner’s book that explains techniques and what to watch out for. A few of the best ones are:

learn to burn book

Funny Teacher Videos: 10 of the Funniest Teachers on YouTube

Learn to Burn

pyrography basics

Pyrography Basics

pyrography projects

Big Book of Pyrography Projects

And then, of course, you need your burning tool.  Here are the highest-rated and most inexpensive ones on Amazon:

truart pyrography set

TRUArt Stage 2 Professional Set

walnut hollow pyrography pen

Walnut Hollow Pyrography Pen

Top Chances Pyrography Tools

Top Chances Pyrography Tools

Why You Should Try It

It’ll take a little bit of money to try your hand at making a pyrographic work of art, so why bother? Well, you can:

  • Learn something new which makes new neural connections in your brain. This can improve memory and delay the onset of dementia. And, it makes you a more interesting person to hang around with, as well as giving you new things to talk about with your friends.
  • Feel a huge sense of accomplishment for learning something new and creating something from scratch. Every time you look at it for years to come, you’ll get a new surge of self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • Use your creativity to give your friends and family a truly unique and personalized holiday or birthday gift instead of some mass-produced plastic trinket that a million other people have.
  • Sell your art on marketplaces like Etsy or even your own website. Or sell them at your local fairs and flea markets. Or, once you learn a lot, create a course or eBook about pyrography and sell that.
  • Get your kids involved and sit down and create something together. It’s hard enough to find quality time with your kids these days (or tear them away from their computers, video games, and cell phones). This provides a great opportunity for family bonding.
  • Meet others who do pyrography and form new friendships.
  • Enter a pyrography competition and win an award (or just have fun competing).

Are you going to try it? Let us know how it goes in the comments below!

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Michele Swensen is a writer and web designer who loves learning, animals, writing, reading, and playing the piano. She’s a member of Mensa and a college graduate.

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Michele Swensen is a writer and web designer who loves learning, animals, writing, reading, and playing the piano. She’s a member of Mensa and a college graduate.
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