Sue Walters Pyrography
Fine art pyrography on paper, wood and leather

THE PYRO SHOP (pyrographic supplies and books)
THE PYRO SCHOOL (online school, techniques/tips, in focus, visual diary, teaching schedule, safety)
THE PYRO GALLERY (pyrographic work) -  THE OTHER GALLERY (other art work)
THE ART SHOP (art work, commissions and prints available for sale)


Here you will see the visual progression of a pyrographic picture. Often I'm very experimental in my work and will usually have one such piece being worked concurrently with other more standard pieces.
It is not intended to give you written details of this process, but more so to allow you to see the visual stages of these experiments.
I'm doing this for 2 reasons. The first being that I don't usually take written notes about each piece I do. (I do however make extensive technique notes and use thumbnail sketches.) I prefer instead to 'tumble' a project mentally before starting. This process is often so detailed that I can very clearly see the finished piece and each step it will take to get there. (It's like I have mentally burnt each piece several times before actually doing it.)
The second reason for not giving you detailed notes? want me to keep some secrets don't you?:)
Now...hang on for the ride. I don't know what's coming either, so this should be interesting.

1) It's way past time to get a new visual diary started. This time I thought I would take you on a visual tour of the making of a new piece called 'Platypus Diving'.
Unlike other diaries, you'll be seeing this one evolve as I make the piece.
As you can see, it's a thumping nice piece of wood and a large project, so this diary will be quite lengthy.
I bought this slab of Grevillea robusta at the last Melbourne Wood Show. After setting up my booth, I will always take a walk around and buy up a few supplies for special projects. This slab of native Australian wood was 2 and a half times this length and cost me $30.
I like to make at least one 'signature piece' a year. A piece that pushes my limits to the max and challenges what I know. It's a nice learning curve but can drive me slightly insane, so bear with me when I go a bit wiggy and frustrated.
Here you see me at the very beginning, sketching in the platypus. (Please excuse my messy studio floor.)
2)The wood itself has inspired this piece, both by the way Grevillea burns and the shape of the wood.
I am intending, hoping, crossing fingers to end up with a piece that is realistic and at full scale.
I always like to explore new techniques when I take on a signature piece. This time I'm using relief carving to accent the bubble trail, the platypus and the rocks. It's a first for me and I've been enjoying the carving. The first thing I've learned is to keep the blade super sharp.
Here I have very deeply burned around the bubbles with a heavy duty skew to define them and make stop cuts. I'm starting to relief carve around the bubbles.
3) In this shot I'm doing the deep stop cut burns around the rocks at the bottom of the 'creek'. I sketched the rocks in with pencil first.
Because Australian wood can be very hard and the cuts are to be deep, a burner capable of high heat is necessary. A sharp skew is also essential.
4) Now I'm happy with the proportions of the platypus I can burn the stop cuts around him too.
Note that the rocks below aren't as defined because I've done a lot of relief carving around them. The definition will come back again once I start burning. I need to get the carved parts nice a smooth before I start the burn, so for now the carving continues.
We'll have another look at platypus diving after the carving and before the burning begins.
I might just start burning some of the tannin water as this is a big area and it's going to take quite some time. I might get bored senseless if I don't start chipping away at it.
5) This photo has been taken with just a lamp lighting the shot to highlight the carving. All the stop cuts have been completed using a heavy duty skew and I'm sure this was a lot faster and easier than using chisels. (All of this took approx 40 mins.)
The relief carving has just been finished and a lot of it has been sanded smooth before beginning the burning. I need to do a bit more sanding and I'll be using a Dremel to help me out, plus a good dose of elbow grease.
You can see I have added just a bit of deep burning below the Platypus belly to lay in the darkest of tone. This allows me to work from this dark tone upward, the the lightest. It also let me make sure the technique I am going for to burn the water will work. It does, so now just a little more sanding, then away we go. It's going to be a big project, but I'm excited by it. I've never carved before and so far so good. I've enjoyed it so much that I hope to find time one day to do much more.
6) Okay...I'm back from holidays and really hanging to get moving on this piece. It sure will take some doing so best I keep a up a steady pace.
Last time I left Platypus Diving I had just finished the last of the carving and sanding. I was keen to get the carved bits sanded very smooth because it didn't want any raised areas catching the burning and creating dark patches. It's essential I get the water section smooth so I can apply a gradual, even tone to represent deep water. The water, although technically not the most challenging part of this piece, will be the most important. Everything hinges on the total balance and feel of the water. If I can convince the viewer that the water is believable then the rest will have a better chance of coming together. The Platypus will actually be swimming rather than suspended in dark.
I have started laying down a gradual tone which will be added to as I gain perspective and feel for the water. I want to create a 'mood' so it's going to take quite a bit of balancing and playing with. This is just the beginning, but I have already established the darkest tones around the rocks so I know my darkest value and can then work up from that.


The see other visual diaries, please click below.


THE PYRO SHOP (pyrographic supplies and books)
THE PYRO SCHOOL (online school, techniques/tips, in focus, visual diary, teaching schedule, safety)
THE PYRO GALLERY (pyrographic work) -  THE OTHER GALLERY (other art work)
THE ART SHOP (art work, commissions and prints available for sale)

Sue Walters
15 Roma Parade
Upwey, Victoria
Australia, 3158
P.O.BOX 1131
Tel: (+61) (03) 9754 8207
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Copyright Sue Walters