Deer & Trout Cribbage Board Pyrography Art wood burning

One summer Todd was asked to make a cribbage board.  The guy requesting it was upset that all he could find in the store were cheap plastic models.  He wanted something nicer made out of wood that would fit his cabin decor.  Todd made it and I burned in the scoring numbers and a little fish on it.  Next thing we knew we were was getting bombarded with orders for cribbage boards.  I’ve lost track of how many we’ve made.  I’ve burned dogs, sports logos, deer, and numerous fish onto the different boards.  In this blog I’m doing to discuss one of the commissioned cribbage boards that I thought turned out pretty well.  

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



Todd makes the boards out of maple and it takes him 30-45 minutes to drill all of the pegging holes with his drill press.  Then he makes sure the board is good and smooth, so I can burn on it.

I first draw in all of the scoring numbers on it using a tiny airbrush stencil.   I found the stencil on E-bay and it cost just a couple of dollars.








Each number is burned in with the writing tip.







After I burn in the numbers I burn over the line I drew on either side of the number with a knife tip (Colwood calls it a rounded heel tip).  






Here’s a close up of the board after I’ve burned in the numbers and separation lines.   Obviously I’m not perfect at this.  Sometimes the wood grain will make my pen tip shift a little, and other times “murphy” interferes.   It takes me around 30-45 to get all of the numbers and lines burned in.  The pegging numbers are always my least liked part of the board, and part of that is because they are not fun to burn in.  Instead they are rather tedious, but they are an essential part of the board.


I think this was the first board I burned a deer onto, and it was fun to do.  It was a little challenging given the small size, but still fun to work on.

If you’ve read any of my tutorials, you know that I always transfer the pattern onto the wood and then burn in the trace lines. 

So I’m doing that here. 






As you can see the end result is not real dark.  I really try to keep my pattern lines as pale as possible when working on people and animals.  The lines are guidelines of where transition points are or where a shaded area needs to be.  Because of that I don’t want dark lines that will stand out and make the transition less smooth.






After the traces lines were burned in I gave the horns a little color.  Since the points of the horns ended up in the pegging holes of the board, I didn’t want them super dark.







Next it started working on the body.  The fur I used tiny zigzag lines to fill in the body while giving the impression of fur.  I find this works extremely well for me and it’s quick and easy to do.








Below are some progress photos of the body being worked on. 


















In this photo I’ve added a little texture to the horns and currently adding some shading to contour them.






I’ve created several works of pyrography that feature different animals and on all of them I’ve added tiny little dots on the nose for texture.  I really like how it ends up looking.








Here I’m using a white charcoal pencil to add the highlights to the eyes.  I use white charcoal quite often in pyrography as it rests the heat of the pen, so helps the wood stay unburned. 






The deer almost looked demonic after I was done with the charcoal. 







After the eyes were burning it they looked fine, though it’s hard to see the highlights.  








After getting the eyes done it was time to finish the body.  Below are more progress photos of that happening.  
















After I was done with the buck, I decided it wasn’t dark enough.  In this close-up photo it seems fine, but when you stepped back from the board the deer didn’t stand out a lot.  Plus I didn’t care for how dark the ears were compared to the rest of the body, so I darkened up the fir. 







Below are photos of that happening. 










With the deer done, I moved onto the trout.  It seems like we did a lot of boards that people wanted trout or salmon burned onto them.  Fortunately they are pretty easy to do. 

Like all of my work, it first starts out as a line drawing. 







Burning in the trace lines.







Generally speaking, most fish have pale bellies, so when I started coloring in the trout I concentrated on applying the color to its back. 





Continued work.






For trout and salmon I apply a lot of dots onto the back or top side of the fish.  I have several ball pen tips, but often I just use the writing tip as it’s already loaded on one of my handsets.  My unit has 2 handsets and a toggle switch to quickly change which handset I’m using.







I also used the writing tip to work on the facial features of the trout.  The area was just too small to use anything else.








Here’s how the fish looked after I was done dotting and working on the facial features.







The water looks like water mostly due to the fact that you expect to see it and due to the extreme contrast.  The spray is left white (unburned) but there are dark edges around it so it will stand out.  For the spray that overlaps the fish’s tail, I just darkened up the tail so the spray would pop out.







I used a knife tip to draw the lines on the fins. 







Continued work.








There were also some pale thin lines along the lower jaw and I used the knife tip on those too.  The knife tip produces super thin lines, but I would have to admit that I have difficulty making curved lines with it. 






Lastly I added a few shadows from the lower fins onto the belly.  I also darkened up the base of the top fin.  







Finishing up.









The customer liked his cribbage board.  I was pleased with how the pyrography artwork turned out especially given the fact that I’m working in a very small area.  I’ve not very good at burning in the numbers, but if nothing else it proves it was handcrafted.  I’m trying to put a positive spin on the area that I dislike and not very good at.  J   Over all it takes Todd around 10 hours to craft and seal a cribbage board.  Depending on the image being put onto the board it takes me 1-4 hours to do my thing.

Lastly to answer a few commonly asked questions.   The cribbage board is made out of maple and measures 4 ½ by 16 ½ inches (11.4 x 41.9 cm).  It took me a total of 3 1/2 hours to complete all of the wood burning on the board and this includes the pegging numbers.  The trout, which measures 1 x 2 inches (2.5 x 5.1 cm), took me 30 minutes to render.  The deer, which measure 3 x 3 inches (7.6 x 7.6 cm), took me 2 1/4 hours burn in.

Until the next blog,


Mar 3, 2017

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