The Fascinating art of Pyrography

Pyrography is an art form that involves decorating wood and other materials using a tool that burns directly into the surface. Using a variety of tips and applying different pressures lets you create a large range of tones and shades.

Since I was very young I’ve always had a keen interested in drawing. Alongside my illustrations I work predominantly in felt and up-cycled fabrics (you can see more of my creations at The Felt Room). Recently I’ve become fascinated with pyrography – burning patterns and illustrations into wood with a pen-like ‘drawing’ tool. I purchased my own pyrography tool online for around £20 just to have a go and see how inspiring it could be.

When Illustrating I usually work in pen and ink – Copic drawing pens and Bristol board drawing paper are my best friends! The paper is great to draw on and the pens are ideal for creating my illustrated artwork. Using the new pyrography tool I’ve attempted to move my unique paper based illustrations onto beautiful wood.

My first creation was tested on some wooden beads, I was hoping I could incorporate them into jewellery at some point in the future. This inspired me to put my charity shop hunting into practice and find some cool wooden objects that I could up-cycle. I found a wooden bowl that I sanded down a little as it was already varnished. My impatience led me to start too soon (before all of the varnish had been removed) and thus it was very hard to burn into.

Christine Hughes

I have added a picture of my first triumph on this page, an owl in a tree. Since having my daughter Annabelle my style has naturally veered towards children’s illustration. It lets my childhood ideas of the world come to fruition. I’ve found that I have a strange urge to draw mushroom houses! I’m sure this stems from weekend walks in the woods with ‘Mr Ammo’, discovering mushrooms and photographing them (hoping to find something edible…). I found a great little wooden trinket box in a charity shop and it called out to me. I now find myself looking at objects and wondering whether I could create an illustration on it? The trinket box is now sitting on my dresser with cute mushroom houses burnt into the lid.

Christine Hughes

Earlier this year I took part in the inkgoodness beermat exhibition in London with a felt creation but I also wanted to showcase an example of my pyrography illustration too. I created ‘If you go down to the woods today’ to display at the event. This illustration was burnt into a kitchen chopping board (I’d love to add this artwork as a limited edition print in the Ammo shop at some point).

Christine Hughes

On recent shopping trip I found a great wooden musical box, circa 1920’s on a market stall. I was very tempted to buy it, but didn’t want to spoil it by burning into it. Some things are just not meant to be up-cycled.

There are many illustrators who create artwork that really inspires me. Taking those illustrations off of paper and using natural resources like wood to create and showcase your talent makes it even more interesting. I have recently been inspired by Tricia Newell, her work is amazing! The intricate detail used on her pieces of artwork are awe inspiring. I especially like her tree trunk slices such as ‘The Rhythm of Time‘, a very unique piece of work. I love the way she has incorporated the grain and form of the wood into the design.

Christine Hughes

I hope to continue working with wood so any feedback or advice I can get from fellow pyrographers would be great. If this post inspires you to create your own pyrographic artwork I’d love to see the results. I may write a follow up post featuring a selection of inspiring pyrography so send me links!