G'day, my name is Sue Walters and I'd like to welcome you to the first of the news letters I will share about the art of pyrography.
Burning is a rapidly growing and exciting medium that has so many applications, such scope, potential and associated mediums that I think there will be plenty to talk about for some time to come. This is reflected by the large range of people who have signed up. Not only do I have the usual pyrographers aboard, but I'm also seeing a large group of gourd artists, a few leather artists, some professionals, general artists and pyrography industry people as well. Great stuff....good to see you all:)
As many of you know, I very much enjoy burning and trying out just about any surface/medium I can get my little mitts on....as long as it's safe! I also enjoy mixing many mediums with my burning as well as heavily experimenting while I strive to portray what I'm after. All of this, (along with a wide range of subject matter) has given me pretty wide pyrography experience. But please, do give me a shout if you have anything to share....don't be shy! If you have any tips, news, show information, sites to share etc...just about anything at all regarding using something hot to make an image...drop me a line and I'll see what I can do to add it in. (I'd also appreciate the input.)
Oh, by the way, being an Aussie I usually have to watch I don't add too much 'slang' to my writing or all you mob get a bit lost. I'll try not get too 'Aussie' on you, but hey, I'm sure you wont mind if I'm more myself here. If you have any questions at all, give me a hoy and I'll try my best to explain.
Lesson one, 'Aussie' is pronounced as 'Ozzie', not 'Ossie':)
As you can see, there is significant fading in the test.
The paper was burnt and the then cut in 3 parts. Part one was left in full sun coming through a window. Part 2 was sprayed with mat picture varnish, not UV protected. Part 3 was put in the dark for the duration.
INSIDE FADE TEST - start Nov 1998, end Feb 2000
Well....nothing too faded about this that I can see. Perhaps a TAD on the patch burnt with the shader. 'A' is the piece hidden away, 'B' is the piece left out.
The light source was indirect light from a double window which is approx 6 feet from where the paper was pinned to the wall. I also have 100W incandescent light overhead, which is always on when I work, regardless if it's day or night.
OUTSIDE FADE TEST WITH PIGMENT COMPARISON - start Nov 1998, end Feb 2000
I was curious to see how watercolour paint would fare in comparison to burning. Interesting!
Yep, we spell 'colour' with a 'u':)
Well! THIS was very interesting and surprising.
For those of you who don't know what tagua is, I'll briefly explain for you. It also comes with the various other handles of vegetable ivory, palm ivory and corozo. It is the nut of the Palm Ivory and looks and feels remarkably like elephant ivory. It was traditionally used extensively in the button industry until plastic was born. It's now highly prized by artisans to carve, scrimmshaw, paint and now, to burn on. (see some examples of burnt tagua art here.)
I started experimenting and extensively burning on tagua around a year ago. Dear Peg Wood kindly sent me some slices to try and I've been in love with it ever since.
I love that it's white to burn on, that is has weight, that you can make great jewelry from it, is popular with customers and that it looks and feels just like ivory, but no elephants were harmed in the making of this art. In fact, tagua growing and harvesting are helping save the rain forests of Ecuador.
Like paper, I was very interested to see if burnt images on tagua would fade. There weren't even any rumours of this amongst pyrographers as tagua burning seems very new except for a few crude craft applications in the past. So...I set out to test the fading of a burnt image on tagua approx 8 months ago. This time also included my summer months, so it got a real work out.
The test comprised of burning a series of lines and patches across a single piece of tagua, then half of the tagua was screened from the sun with cardboard. It was then placed on the sill of a very sunny window for 8 months.
I admit that I expected some fading at least, but was stunned when I returned from Canada, took off the screen and saw there was NO fading at all! In fact, the side that was in the sun was cracked and checked from the beating it took from the sun, but no fading at all was evident. The only thing I can think of is that burning tagua 'meat' actually cooks it and creates a different property than the carbon formed during wood and paper burning.
I'm sure one happy puppy though! This is one art/craft material where I don't have to worry about the fade aspect.
Can tagua burning fade from other means? Yes, I think it can from experience. This largely depends on the finish applied to the piece. Oils or varnishes that yellow wood can cause the image to fade by yellowing the white of the tagua....creating less contrast in the original image. Unsealed tagua will also fade if allowed to get wet or rub up against things.
TAGUA FADE TEST - 8 months
'A' is the side that was exposed to the sun.
Note how side A is heavily checked from the sun baking it, but there is no fading that can be seen in comparison to side 'B', which was hidden from the sun and light.
I'll bring you the results of any future fade tests as they come to hand, but if you have any fade experience that you can tell me about, please write and I'll include them in a fade data base to be created later on. How about you gourd burners? What are your experiences with fading?
Due to the high number of enquires I receive regarding burning on tagua and paper, I have written an instructional booklet on each subject. They are designed as a beginners guide to get the novice started in each of these mediums. Both are challenging in their own right, but are also highly rewarding to burn on. These booklets will show you the basic strokes, how to prepare and choose your material, some pitfalls, some tips, finishes and how to fix mistakes if you make them.
Ever wanted to burn jewelry but wood just wouldn't cut it? (Sorry, pun intended:)) When Tagua nuts are sliced they make wonderful pendants and pins. The whole nut makes a unique little ornament. And to top it off, tagua feels and looks just like ivory and will last just as long!
Looking for a white surface to burn pictures on? Tired of making trips to the lumber yard/craft store searching for that clean piece of wood? Paper might just be the answer. Burning on paper is not as hard as you may think, in fact it's easy! Paper can be bought from craft and art stores, the resulting picture can be easily framed and pyrography on paper has a unique, antique appeal.
Pyrographer Vickie Wessel is noted for her realistic portrayal of monochrome wildlife and has produced an instructional book detailing the steps she takes to burn a realistic bear in a natural setting. And realistic it certainly is!
The 19 page black and white book is very well written, with clear instructions to guide the reader though the various techniques used to create a realistic picture. Even though this book is specific to burning a bear, it's instructions can easily be applied to other subject matter. I was particularly taken with Vickie's description of burning a very realistic fur coat...a technique that can be applied to any short coated animal.
Some of the subjects covered include tools used, wood selection, transferring the picture (with an excellent tip on gamma correction), how to draw free hand foreground plants and surrounding, fur burning, eye and nose burning and finishing the piece.
The cost of the book is $13.00 USD including shipping. It's a good read and will help demystify realism animal burning, for the beginner in particular.