Whimsical Butterfly Drum Pyrography Artwork wood burning

This is just a quick blog to let you know about a project I was recently working on.  Todd has a co-worker, Tim, who loves to buy tongue drums as gifts for his grandchildren.  This drum makes drum number five.  With this particular drum I was asked to make it themed around butterflies and maybe with something flowing behind the butterfly.  Armed with the butterfly request and the granddaughter’s name I went to work sketching ideas.    This blog will discuss the creation of the artwork and I’ve included the pattern at the end of the blog.

You can watch a time-lapse YouTube video of this artwork being created. Just click on the image to the left.

My first thought when I was given the suggestion of “something flowing behind” was a butterfly whose wake causes the flowers to bloom.  The wake would increase in amplitude after the butterflied passed, so the flowers would be bigger the further away they are from the butterfly.   Since this was for a young child, I decided to go with a more cartoon-ish or whimsical styled butterfly instead of a realistic one.  The sketch came together pretty quickly and Tim approved it, so I got to work.

First thing I did was transfer the pattern to the wood like I do with all of my work.  And, like all of my works, I use the tracing method.  For details on that read my blog Transferring patterns.    The picture shows the pattern traced onto the wood (yes, I trace very lightly) and a piece of paper is attached to the drum with Leanne’s name.


Using a word editing document I typed in Leanne’s name and played around with the assorted fonts until I got one that seemed right.  Even before I started I knew that I wanted the font in a semi-scripted style.  After I decided on a font, I then repeated Leanne’s name across the paper changing the font sizes with each repeat.  Once the document was printed I was able to see which one fit the box and artwork best.   Then I used the tracing method on the piece of paper with her name and transferred it to the wood.   Afterwards it was a simple matter of carefully burning in the letters a dark brown.   

I do want to point out that I kept the piece of paper nearby when I was working on Leanne’s name as reference. 











After I took care of Leanne’s name I burned in the rest of the trace lines.  I used a writing tip for the entire step.  In fact, I used the writing tip for the majority of this artwork.  In the photos below,  I’m working on burning the trace lines.  


Once the trace lines are burned in, I rub over the entire surface with a pencil eraser to remove any residual graphite.





My next step was to burn the butterfly.  I used my micro shading tip where I could and the writing tip for the tiny areas.   I also used a white charcoal pencil to mark the highlights in the eyes.  I find that this helps me keep those spots ultra-clean or unburned.  It is important to use charcoal and not a colored pencil.  Color pencils contain wax which will melt under the heat of the pen. Below are the progress photos of the butterfly.   


































The last thing to do was burn in all of the flowers.  I started out with the shading tip on one of the larger flowers, but quickly switched to the writing tip as the flowers were pretty small.  As usual, I didn’t have a plan for the flowers, so each one was a spur of the moment decision.  My only goal was to create a wide assortment and not replicate any flowers.   Below are progress photos of the flowers.  















Once I was done Todd applied many coats of lacquer to the drum and made the drum sticks.  Below are the pictures of the drum after it was lacquered up.  The two little yellow balls are the drum stick heads.  The sticks slide into the drum for storage.   The back of the drum has a little bit of artwork on it too, but I’m not covering that as I “borrowed” the image from some stuff I found on the net. 




















The drum was made out of poplar that has some beautiful coloring to it, but maple was used for the drum front.  Todd used maple on the front as it was much paler in color, so the artwork would stand out better


Tim loved the drum and hopefully so does Leanne’s parents; especially since they are going to get blessed with more musical concerts than grandpa will.  The drum was fun to design, easy to burn, and I’ve included the pattern in case you’d like to use it for something you’re working on.   Whimsical Butterfly pattern

Lastly to answer a few commonly asked questions.   The artwork measures 13 ½ by 5 ½ inches (34.3 x 14 cm), was burned on maple and poplar wood, and it took me 3 1/4 hours to complete the artwork on the front.

Until the next blog,




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