Writing with fire – what an amazing concept! Known as ‘pyrography’ this exquisite art form is believed to predate recorded history, with today’s tools dating back to the 17th century.
From the Greek words pyr, meaning ‘fire,’ and graphos, meaning ‘writing,’ this expressive craft has limitless applications that create beautiful works of art scorched onto wood or leather. The wood burning stencils used in pyrography are thin pieces of craft material that, when used together with heated pens, create decorative pieces that have a distinctive look all their own. Those who use wood burning stencils to produce their works are utilizing an art form whose current popularity is trending as high as it did way back in the 1800s, due in part to its earthy, organic beauty. Many of the artisans who perform pyrography are gifted and practiced, but you don’t have to be an expert to learn how to use wood burning stencils to create your own striking designs.
For anyone who performs and appreciates calligraphy, learning to ‘write with fire’ is the next logical step. And today’s industry of wood burning stencils is teeming with invaluable fire-writing resources. The following content provides information on three such top-rated wood burning stencil products.
What are wood burning stencils?
Wood burning stencils are thin pieces of craft material, often made of plastic or metal, that pyrography artisans use to produce the designs that ultimately will go onto pieces of wood or other materials of various shapes and sizes. A crafter will first create a design onto a stencil and ultimately use a heated writing or designing utensil such as a heated pen or poker to transfer their creation onto the wood. This process is designed to produce a beautiful piece of scorched-like art that has a distinctive cast like no other art form.
How do wood burning stencils work?
Wood burning stencils refer to the many different materials (such as graphite paper, mylar, acrylic, metal, plastic, etc.) which hold the images that will be transferred onto wood with a heated pen or poker-type utensil. After a piece of wood is prepared to hold a design (by cutting, sanding, etc.), a crafter will create an image by means of drawing, finding one on the internet and printing and cutting it out, etc. Next, the image is held in place on the wood, often with a type of adhesive. The image is then conveyed onto the piece of wood, after which the heated pen or poker is used to draw or bring out the design onto the wood itself, literally with fire. What is created is a stunning work of art which has a unique dark beauty that looks like no other art form and is totally distinctive to pyrography.
Pyrography can be used to create a wide array of tones and shades, and fluctuating the type of pen used, as well as its temperature, can achieve a multitude of effects. Additionally, wood is not the only object that can hold a pyrographic design. Leather is also a popular item used with wood burning stencils, as the designs hold up well on its surface, resulting in a stunning and unique appearance. Some crafters have even taken to using gourds with wood burning stencils and pyrography pens to create equally striking designs.
Wood burning stencils buying guide
The following wood burning stencil products are tried and tested, and are among the top-rated products in the pyrography industry. This guide will provide details and uses of each product, along with some of the pros and cons associated with their use.
Learn to Burn: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Started in Pyrography
From Simon Easton, known to the world of pyrography as an award-winning expert craftsman, comes his second pyrography book, ‘Learn to Burn: A Step-by-Step Guide.’ For anyone who finds this art intriguing but does not know quite where to begin, this book provides a colorful guide with detailed instructions on getting started in this expressive art form.
Here’s what you get:
- 14 step-by-step projects that range in difficulty from beginner to advanced
- ‘How-to’ images and illustrations that help to guide you through the process
- Simple exercises designed to provide basic beginning concepts
- Instructions for various techniques, including lettering, shading, texturing, and finishing of your art works
- Ideas for producing fun, unique, and artistic gifts such as refrigerator magnets, jewelry boxes, and more that will delight your friends and family
- Guide also comes with 50 bonus patterns that will help you create stunning designs
- Simon Easton is an award-winning master craftsman whose guides are easy to follow.
- Author even provides instruction on purchasing materials needed, which is particularly helpful for beginners.
- Contains bonus patterns for easy transfer.
- Clear illustrations and images provide ideal visual aids.
- Contains a large amount of projects designed to help newbies learn through doing.
- Not as recommended for those more advanced in pyrography and the use of wood burning stencils as it is for those who are just starting out or are at an intermediate stage in performing this art.
- Some reviewers comment the book contains more projects than instructions for those who want to perfect their craft.
- Design Originals
- Simon Easton
- Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing
- Edition no. 0 (03/01/2013)
- Paperback: 96 pages
Wood burning Project & Pattern Treasury: Create Your Own Pyrography Art with 75 Mix-and-Match Designs
Nowhere is working with your hands to create stunning art works with pyrography and wood burning stencils more understood or deeply appreciated than in the wood artistry books written by author and artisan Debbie Pompano. In “Wood burning Project & Pattern Treasury: Create Your own Pyrography Art” Ms. Pompano’s own striking creations actually seem doable, as she guides you through with a ‘fresh take on wood burning’ and step-by-step instructions.
Here’s what you get:
- Nearly limitless design possibilities through 75 patterns of mix and match pieces of borders, designs, and main images that users can continuously rearrange in literally thousands of ways.
- Personal commentary from Ms. Pompano on the beauty and pleasure associated with working in pyrography.
- Ready-to-use patterns with no guesswork involved.
- Tips, tricks, and techniques to produce an array of textures, shades, dimensions, and effects.
- Great for beginners as well as intermediate and advanced pyrography crafters.
- Stunning images, from simple to complex, of everything from birds and wildlife to floral to lighthouses and more.
- Simple methods that help beginners learn from step one, but also help more advanced artisans more comprehensively develop their skills.
- Some reviewers comment the book could use more transferrable patterns than are included in it.
- A few reviewers comment the book contains unnecessary commentary regarding Ms. Pompano’s personal life, stating they would prefer more in the way of how to perform pyrography than personal commentary from its author.
- Fox Chapel Pub Co Inc
- Debbie Pompano
- Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing
- Edition no. 0 (10/01/2011)
- Paperback: 176 pages
Darice Unfinished Rectangle-Shaped Wood Pieces (50pc)
Darice is a company well-known in the crafting industry for manufacturing craft supplies for all levels of crafters with all levels of budgets. This product contains pieces of rectangle-shaped wood that help to take the guesswork out of finding products on which to perform your pyrography artwork. This collection is a fantastic value that can’t be beat, as it includes 50 individual, light wood products that are easy to work with.
Here’s what you get:
- 50 individual pieces of light, unfinished wood, measuring 2.08″ x 1.37″
- Already perfectly matched pieces that are ready to use
- Great for beginners to learn how to perform pyrography and how to use the wood burning stencils properly because it provides them with 50 consistent pieces on which to work.
- Pieces are of substantial size and thickness.
- Excellent for teachers who want to pass out the same pieces so the entire class is working on the same project simultaneously.
- Unfinished and ready to use for any pyrography project.
- Can be used to make myriad decorative items such as key chains, back pack and luggage tags, dominoes, ornaments, and much more.
- Excellent price point that can fit into every crafter’s budget.
- Many reviewers comment that the size is too small for many of their projects. For this reason, be sure to compare the dimensions of 2.08” x 1.37” to the needs of your specific project.
- GREAT FOR CRAFT PROJECTS - These Darice rectangle-shaped wood pieces are great for...
- VALUE PACK - The 50 craft wood pieces in this value pack each measure 2.08" x 1.37"...
- PERFECT FOR TEACHERS - These wooden pieces can be easily incorporated into classroom...
- READY FOR DECORATING - Unfinished wood shapes are ready for stain, paint, markers and...
- FIND YOUR INSPIRATION - Having the right crafting supplies on hand helps inspire...
Additional tips on pyrography and using wood burning stencils
Pyrography is a creative art form that takes time to learn and master. Here are some tips and tricks that will help those new to this ancient art form develop and progress both creatively as well as cautiously.
- Safety first. Best practices concerning pyrography and wood burning stencils is to always wear goggles when using the heated pens, particularly if you are a person with breathing issues.
- Working with stained, painted, or any other type of treated wood is not recommended for use in pyrography.
- Working with manufactured woods such as particle board or plywood is not recommended for use in pyrography.
- Never work in salt-treated woods because these can produce harmful fumes when burned.
- Softer woods such as pine or aspen tend to work best in use with pyrography materials. Cherry and cedar woods can also work well.
- Softly blowing on the tip of your heated pen as it touches the surface for the first time will help to achieve smoother lines as you work.
- Because residue occasionally will build up on them, be sure to keep a wet paper towel close by in order to continuously wipe the tips of pens used in pyrography.
- If your utensils begin to smoke, they’re getting too hot. Turning down the heat will create a more ‘smokeless’ burn, which will make for smoother writing as you work.
- Many experts recommend investing in a wood burning tip-and-pen combination wood burner which works well for those crafters who plan to frequently switch tips, as these can be great time savers.
- Always keep pen tips clean, as carbon can build up over time and cause unwanted and unattractive burning on your project.
- Always keep all items associated with pyrography and wood burning stencils, particularly those that become heated, out of the reach of children!
It was the Victorians who invented today’s pyrography tools and coined the term ‘pyrography.’ But it’s artisans and calligraphers like you who make it as popular today as it’s ever been. Writing with fire is a unique form of craftsmanship that creates distinctive artworks whose scorched appearance compares to no other.
And the heated pens and wood burning stencils used to achieve them afford even beginners with limitless applications to create exquisitely timeless pieces. If you’re searching for the next step in your calligraphy, or you’re simply looking for a new craft to perform, pyrography and wood burning stencils can be the ideal expressive outlet.