When starting out, you won’t need much, just a tool and something to work on. It takes practice and effort while you get used to your tool and discover what you can do with it.
Take the time to get to know your tool and learn about the materials you’ll use. Start out small with your projects.
What Do You Need to Start?
You’ll need tools to get you started and your chosen material to do your pyrography on. When picking some wood or leather to work with, be very careful to select some that’s not treated with anything that is toxic when burned.
- Solid-point burners
- Wire-nib burners
- Laser cutters
Solid point and wire-nib burners are both very similar, except wire-nib burners can be changed between alternate temperatures whereas solid-point burners are set at one fixed temperature.
Laser cutters are different again and can have many settings, and some are even sensitive enough to scorch paper.
Modern tanning methods leave leather dangerous to do pyrography on, so you’ll need to find some vegetable-tanned leather.
This type of leather has no harmful chemicals and although it’s more expensive, this is for multiple reasons:
- It’s made naturally and takes a lot longer than other, more harmful, methods to produce
- In order to produce this leather, it must come from cattle that lived a good life and produced strong, high-quality leather
- If well-maintained it will last a lifetime, but when it stops being maintained it’s also biodegradable, so much better for the environment in the long-term
- It’s made by knowledgeable and well-practiced craftsmen
Wood must be either naturally treated or not treated at all. Some chemicals, when burned, can be very toxic, and so you absolutely must know what you’re using before you start.
All wood can be divided into two categories: softwood and hardwood. Softwood burns faster and at a lower temperature, whereas hardwood is slightly trickier to work with.
For the best results, a light-colored wood is best, allowing for higher contrast, and it should be sanded smooth.
Getting Yourself Prepared
A few handy things to do before you actually get going is to trace or sketch what you want to burn onto your material first.
Tracing paper can be bought for this purpose, so you can print your design out and copy over it with a ballpoint pen or pencil.
Choosing a simple design when starting out is important – you don’t want to get yourself into doing something a lot harder than you can handle. Stick to a simple outline of something basic, and with practice, you’ll find out just how much you can do.
Once You’re Ready To Go…
…make sure you have a safe work spot set up, and go for it!
Have patience as you are learning and have fun. It takes practice like every craft, so take your time and enjoy discovering what you can do.