The Doodle Trinket Box Pyrography Project wood burning

The doodle trinket box was a commissioned piece requested from a friend, Judi, who wanted something functional with pyrography art on it.   Todd & Judi worked out the technical details about size, number of drawers, and wood choice.  After which I was given dimensions of 7 x 11 inches to burn on I and to create an image of a cross.  At the bottom of the blog I put the downloadable pattern for this artwork.

You might be wondering how I came up with the doodle design from “create an image of a cross”?

I love to doodle and started doodling in school as a way to entertain myself in some rather less than entertaining classes.   I would be drawing little eyeballs, monsters, geometric designs, random shapes along the edges of the paper I was supposed to be taking notes on.   Eventually I created a couple of full pages filled with just doodles.  Reactions are very mixed; some people love them and others consider them a complete waste of time and talent. 

Judi and I worked together for a number of years and she had to put up with my little jokes, a few mild pranks, bursts of song (sorry Judi, no one really should have been forced to listen to that), and the occasional odd ball poem.   Over the years the number of poems added up and Judi wanted to create a “book” of them and decided I should draw a cover for the book.   I was in shock.  That woman had not only kept the poems, but now she wanted to make a little book out of them!   EEECK!!   I always knew Judi was a little off, but until that moment I had no idea to the degree she was off.   It should be pointed out that my poetry skills are on par with my singing skills.   I have been paid for my singing, but it was on the condition that I shut up.  With that in mind you can better understand why I was shocked by her actions and seriously concerned for her mental well-being.

Poetry Doodle

I did end up creating a “book” cover, but I couldn’t take it too seriously.  So I created a doodle art for the cover and even gave it a grandiose title:  Brenda’s Poetry for Pooping…a toilet companion.   It pretty much summed up my opinion on my poetry skills.  If I recall correctly, Judi loved the book cover.  Seriously that woman has some problems, but the photo does show what I consider as doodling.  A piece of paper filled with a random assortment of images and depending on how you have the paper turned will be what you see.






Cross focal point

Back to the main subject; the trinket box.   I kept pondering what to fill the 7 x 11 box top with, but there was an ongoing problem with the cross.  Crosses are taller than they are wide and this box was wider than it was tall.   It just wouldn’t allow for a large ornate cross to fill it.   My solution was to put an oval in the center for the cross.   The cross and oval would become the focal point, but I had to decide what to put around the outside of the oval.

Armed with several photocopies of an oval and cross I played around with some designs.  I removed the oval and created mountain with a cross on its peak.  Sketched a cross floating in space with angels flying around it.  Came up with some other ideas too, but none of them seemed right.   One day while I was pondering, I started doodling on one of the photocopies and it hit me that this was the answer to my problem; fill in the background with doodles.   I knew Judi liked flowers, especially tulips, so I sketched out a doodle with lots of flowers in it and sent it off for approval.  She loved the idea as it reminded her of my doodle book cover.  I’m not overly sure that’s a good thing, but then I already knew she was a bit off.   

Todd prepared the maple board for me to burn on and I got to work.  I didn’t have a master plan with this except that I knew the cross has to be the focal point.   To me this meant high contrast, so my plan was a very pale background and very dark cross.   The doodle section needed to stay on the lighter side to make sure that despite how very busy it was, it would stay in the background at first glance.   After the first glance was over then all of the little things in the doodle could get noticed.

Burning the outline

The first thing I did was burned in the outline with the writing pen tip.  









Burning a dark edge

Then I burned a very dark line along the inside of the rope oval and around the border of my doodle.  Looking at the picture you can see that I used the shading tip for this step because I wanted a thicker line and that’s hard to accomplish with the writing pen tip.  Plus, when burning darker, I can create smoother lines with the shading tip than I can with the writing tip.   The reason is that the writing tip is more prone to snag on small imperfections and grain lines than the shading tip does.






Rope Frame burned in

In this photo you can see that I’ve burned the rope frame around the cross and the border decorations. 






burning the dark seams on the rope

The rope oval I did in a 2 step process.  Step 1 – I burned the really dark seams between each rope segment.  








Continued work on the rope

Step 2 – I added a little color to the remaining part of each segment.  









working on the border

After burning the rope I worked on the border.  The long border segments got darkened along the outer edge and faded to white on the opposite side.   Decorative heart corner segments got some shading and stippling to give them some texture. 







Working on the border










Lower part of the doodle burned in

As you can see in the photo to the left I’ve filled in the lower doodle section.   Most of the items on the doodle are duplicated – one on the left side and another on the right.  I found it easiest to keep things looking consistent by burning both items before moving on.   Another way of stating this, I burned the 3 tulips in the right corner and afterward burned the 3 tulips in the left corner.     By doing it this way ensured that the technique I used on one item was the same for its “sister” item and this keeps the artwork balanced or cohesive looking.  



Here are some progress pictures:  

Working on the frame around the cross
Continued work











Three Tulips close up

One thing to notice is how the 3 tulips are very dark, but I left the background behind them very light.  This accomplished two things – 1) contrast, and 2) kept the overall image lighter than what the cross would end up being.





Doodle section is almost done

As you can see in the photo to the left, all of the doodle stuff is done.  There are some very dark spots in the doodle, but there are also lots of very pale areas.   Even without the cross being done, the center of the doodle is predominate, but right now that’s because it is very pale and mostly featureless.




Progress photo

Another doodle progress picture and the last one as a computer glitch wiped out the rest of my files for this project.  A computer glitch sounds much better than I was being an idiot.







Doodle with cross almost complete

In this photo the cross is almost done.  Notice that the cross is extremely dark and draws the eye to it.  Exactly as I intended since it is the focal point of the art.  





Close up of the texture on the Cross

In the close up photo of the cross you can see the texture I created on the cross.  I call it the leather look.  To create it you burn rows of very dark blobs with the shading pen tip.  When I’m burning the blobs, I hold the tip in  place for a second or two, then move it just to the left and burn another blob.   The blobs should just barely touch.   After burning the first row, then I start in on the second row, but offset the blobs from the first row.  This means that the first blob in the second row does not line up with the first blob on the first row.  Think of brick walls, they do not create columns of bricks.  Instead they put down a row of bricks and when they start the next row, the first brick is cut in half.  This makes sure that the bricks are offset.    I’m doing the same thing when burning the blobs. 



Doodle is done

I debated about what to do with the ‘gems’ in the cross.   I wanted to do something unique and thought about the idea of adding color.   I have an assortment of Pearl Ex pigments by Jacquard and thought they would be perfect here since they have a metallic sheen to them.   I discussed the idea with Judi, we came up with a color and it turned out nicely.  I also added a little Pearl Ex yellow behind the cross to give it a heavenly glow. 



The glow is very dependent on the angle the art is viewed at as seen in the two photos below.

Cross looking straight on


Heart angled to see the Pearl-Ex










Pearl Ex is a powdered pigment, so I had to mix it with a binder to adhere it to the wood.  The binder I used was Pearl Ex Varnish by Jacquard.    If you ever decide to do something similar and use the Pearl Ex varnish keep in mind it’s water based, so if you use a sealant over this, it might interact.   Todd brushed lacquer over the work to seal it and it removed some of the Pearl Ex.   Next time we’ll know to dab some lacquer over the Pearl Ex, let it dry, and then finish the piece in its entirety.   

In conclusion, this was a fun project and both Todd and I learned new things while creating the trinket box.  Judi says she loves it and I hope this is true since she paid for it.  I’m always very nervous with commissioned work as I’m afraid they will hate my work.

Now to answer a couple of technical things that I always get asked.   Todd used Peruvian Walnut for the sides of the box since it is a very, very dark wood.  The top and bottom were made out of maple.  The middle shelf, just above the drawer was made out of hickory.   Overall the trinket box measured  7 x 11 x 7 inches.  It took Todd 30 hours or so to make and a little over 16 hours for me to burn the pyrography art on it.

As promised here are the patterns for this project.  I’ve included the pattern without the cross in the oval, so that you can fill in that area with your own art.  You could decoupage a photo cut to size to fit inside the oval.

Doodle (no cross) pattern

Doodle w Cross pattern

Below are some pictures of the finished product.   

Trinket Box front
Trinket Box with open lid










Trinket box side



Mar 6, 2016


2 thoughts on “The Doodle Trinket Box Pyrography Project wood burning

  1. Love my box! Love the doodles, the cross, the coloring of the wood and the coloring on the cross. The whole thing turned out way better than I could have possibly imagined. You guys are both so artistic.

    1. I’m so glad that you do. We learned a lot creating this piece and that’s always fun and frustrating. I too thought the cross turned out very well and I love the metallic color accents on it. Todd definitely picked out very dark wood that almost turned black after he finished it. Thanks for the nice compliment and sorry for the years of singing. 🙂

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