I consider this to be my first piece of pyrography art because it is closer to what I do when drawing with pencil/charcoal. Put in other terms it has shading to give it some elements of being three-dimensional. When I did this piece I still wasn’t sure that I wanted to invest a lot of time or effort learning to do pyrography. I just wanted to explore its potential a little bit more and challenge myself a smidgen. I happened to have a wooden plaque I had bought for some craft project I never did and I dug through my stamp collection searching for something that I could quickly put on the plaque and get going.
Material used: Plywood Plaque
Size: oval 7 ¼ x 5 ¼
I learned an important lesson right off; using inks does not always produce crisp clean lines. The ink bled everywhere and seemed to have a fondness for seeping into the grain lines on the wood. Also, the ink turned everything into a coloring book style of image where each little section had its own outline. As I started to burn this I just hated the cartoon/color book look it had, so I tossed it out and started over.
The stamp I was using, Rose Fairy by Stamps Happen, was a bit busy for my current needs. Each leaf had lots of lines to help you color the leaf like the stamp’s artist had done, but I didn’t want or need that. What I ended up doing was stamping onto a blank piece of paper and then using this as my design to transfer onto the wood. This meant that I could control which parts I wanted to transfer and I could eliminate any confusing lines.
The picture to the left is the end results of my simplifying process. A process in which I eliminated most of the lines on the leaves, removed a number of the leaves to reduce the cluttered look, and even eliminated the lines on the wings. I omitted the wing lines because I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do with them, so this left me free to improvise them.
Some areas, like the fairy’s hair and some of the rose petals, I reduced the number of lines present as they weren’t needed. Basically I my goal was to create a pattern with just essential lines in it.
My end result produced a much simpler pattern to burn and, an added bonus, it was quicker to transfer to the wood.
After transferring the pattern to wood it was time to evaluate my light and dark areas. With all projects I determine where I want my darkest and lightest values to be. In this case the darkest was going to be the rose leaves and the lightest would be the wings and flesh of the fairy. My middle tones were the roses and the fairies dress which is made out of rose petals, or at least that’s what I think they are made out of.
Now I didn’t do any progress photos of the fairy. I always mean to, but then I get busy and poof I’m done with no photos to show the progression of the piece.
This photo, while dark, is before I applied color to the piece. As you can see my interpretation of the stamp has some similarities and some differences. I chose to keep all of the roses in the same hue/shade range so they would seem to be all the same colored. I kept them a little on the pale side with mostly the shading done along the edges of each pedal to give them shape and make them look like they were curved. I put a darker bit of shade where petals meet to give it a crevasse look. Or put another way to try to give the impression that one petal fell out of sight as a new one overlapped onto it. As I worked my way inward on the rose, the petals got a smidgen darker since they didn’t have a lot of petal surface and there were more crevasses to create.
The leaves were done as I do most leaves. I put a central vein down the center and made the leaves look like they curved upward from the central vein. This was accomplished by shading along the center and the edges of the leaves. There is one leaf on the left, above the leftmost rose, that had a spot where one side of the leaf had really curled up and you could see the underside. I choose to render this a much lighter value to hopefully give the impression it was the underside of the leaf.
With her dress, I ended up changing that a lot more than I had expected. In fact, until I wrote this blog I hadn’t compared my results with the stamp. After I had stamped the paper, I cleaned up the stamp and put it away. I actually like the dress on the stamp much better than what I ended up with and wished I would have kept the stamp out for reference while I worked. The hair turned out much better than I was expecting and it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. Her face, on the other hand, wasn’t that great. The eyes ended up looking like they were closed instead of looking down and there wasn’t much shading to contour her face. Once I was done with the nose it ended up looking like a little baby nose.
In conclusion, I didn’t keep track of how long I spent on this project, but would guess around 5-6 hours. While I wasn’t extremely impressed with how it turned out I learned a lot while doing it and that’s the most important part.
What I learned:
- It’s pretty easy to use a stamp to create an image to wood burn. No drawing skills necessary and this particular stamp was useful as a guide on how to tone/shade the image.
- Burning on store-bought plaques is nice because they are readily available in almost any craft store and they are fairly inexpensive. A quick sanding to ensure the surface is ultra-smooth is all it takes and they are ready to go.
- Store bought plaques, however, have a couple of downfalls. First the wood is very dry, so even at a low heat it was easy to char the wood. And char I did on some of the leaves. Plus the wood is very soft, so I had to use a lot of care when scraping little boo-boos with my X-acto knife as it was very easy to really gouge the wood.
- I didn’t center my work vertically. I guess I wasn’t thinking this would turn out and probably figured I toss it in the garbage, so didn’t worry about it, but I really should have made sure it was centered all the way around.
- I ended up using watercolors to add a little color to the roses and the dress, but I didn’t like the results. I lost some of the more subtle shading I had done by adding the color. Plus the wood, being so dry, sucked up the water and got a weird texture to it. I found out that it raised the “nap” and this is what gave it a fuzzy texture.
- Keep your reference material at hand.
- I think I like this medium. Plus my husband had delivered the tongue drums at this point and his co-worker loved them. Thus encouraged, I decided I’m going to give a serious effort to learning how to create pyrography art.
Sept 24, 2015