This pyrography tutorial will feature Star Bright; the 5th installment of my Christmas Postcard series. The series showcases an assortment of holiday themed images that are visually striking and fun to create. They are great for gift giving as nothing says you care like homemade gifts do. If that isn’t enough reason to love the series, they also make great holiday decorations!
Reader submitted art at the bottom of the blog.
Let’s get to work.
SKILL LEVEL: 2
- Writing tip
- Shading tip
- Knife Tip
- White Charcoal Pencil (not colored pencil)
- 4 3/4 x 6 1/2 inch (12.1 x 16.5 cm) piece of craft plywood
- Pattern (enlarge or shrink as needed) Star Bright pattern
Below are pictures of the Colwood pen tips I used on this project.
STEP 1 – PREP THE WOOD
Then thoroughly wet the board by misting it with water or running it quickly under the sink faucet. Let the board dry and then sand again.
This will produce a super smooth surface, and the smoother the surface is the better the burn results will be.
STEP 2 – TRANSFER PATTERN TO WOOD
I use the tracing method to transfer all my patterns to my projects. It’s cheap, easy, and gives complete control on what is traced onto the wood. Print off your pattern on light weight paper (standard copier paper is perfect), coat the back of the pattern with a graphite pencil (I use one in the B ranges), place pattern on wood, tape in place, trace over pattern with a sharp pencil, remove pattern, and you’re ready to burn.
Because this pattern has so many lines I used a ruler to when tracing them in to ensure they were straight on the wood.
STEP 3 – BURN THE TRACE LINES
Burn over the trace lines and then rub over the surface of the wood to remove any residual graphite.
Use the knife tip on the straight lines. It does a wonderful job and because it digs deeply into the wood, it creates a groove for the shader to follow. Take your time during this step and move your arm vs your hand to make the burn. Or put another way, keep your hand in one position and pull your arm back towards you. This will help ensure the line is smooth and straight.
Switch to the writing tip to burn the decorations on the star spokes or arms.
STEP 4 – DARK BORDER
The first thing we will burn is the dark border around the star.
Use the shader to burn darkly around the edges of the dark border.
Continued work. You might wonder why I didn’t burn these lines dark to begin with. Well there are two reasons for that:
1) When burning straight lines it becomes really obvious if you make a mistake. Plus it’s a lot harder to fix dark mistakes than it is to fix pale ones.
2) I don’t have these planned out. Seriously, I don’t. So while I’m tracing the pattern onto the wood and while I’m burning in the trace lines I start to plan what I will do. The great thing with small projects like this is that I can always create a new one fairly quickly if I hate how it turns out.
Next darkly burn along the outer edge of the star center.
Then use really short pull-away strokes and burn along the inner edge of the dark border. Start the stroke on the inner edge and pull it away from the inner edge towards the outer edge of the border. Lift the pen tip up and away when you reach the halfway mark. These are very short pull-away strokes.
Here’s a photo of how the star looks so far.
Now burn really short pull-away strokes along the outer edge of the border. These strokes start on the outer edge and head towards the inner edge.
STEP 5 – STAR CENTER
In this step we will burn the star center.
First burn one side of each spoke/arm. The color should be darker at the base and fade towards the top.
Here’s how the center looks so far.
Now repeat this process on the opposite side of each spoke/arm.
Next apply a layer of dots all over the center surface with the writing pen tip.
This photo shows the star center before and after the dots were applied. I really liked how the center looked after the dots were applied.
Here’s a progress photo of the entire artwork.
STEP 6 – STAR SPOKES
Now we’ll burn in the spokes/arms of the star to finish it up.
Use a white charcoal pencil to color in the ‘S’ shapes on the spokes. It must be a charcoal pencil and not a colored pencil. Color pencils contain wax and will melt and char under the heat of the pen tip. Charcoal resists the heat and helps keep the wood unburned.
Next burn in one side of all of the spokes. Burn the base near the center the darkest part of each spoke and the top the palest spot.
Do the same for the opposite side of each spoke.
Next use the writing pen tip to darkly burn all of the tiny decorative circles along the spoke tops.
Next burn the ovals so the edges are dark and allow the color to fade slightly in the centers.
Using the writing pen tip to burn along the outside of the ‘S’ shapes. Burn only the sides that would be in shadows so they appear raised up from the surface.
Note that I left the ‘S’ shapes unburned but at this point erased the white charcoal. I also left the border around the star center unburned.
STEP 7 – THE MESSAGE
Flip the postcard over, draw a couple of lines, and write your message.
Keep in mind I’m just putting the name of the artwork here, but you can write anything. Dedicate it to a loved one, burn the words of a poem, prayer, etc. Make it your own.
STEP 8 – EMBELLISHMENTS
I kept this project fairly simple, but you can add more embellishments to the star. Add more dots, squiggly lines, etc.
I had debated about doing something with the background, but could never decide what to do. One thing I thought about was creating a twinkling star background.
Draw some small star shapes onto the background. Note that I photo painted the first star to make it easier to see what I was drawing.
Next burn the stars in with the knife tip. Rub an eraser over the surface to remove any graphite.
Here’s how the stars looked after I burned them in.
Next burn over the surface with the shader pen tip to reveal the stars.
Note that I had to scrape with an X-acto knife tip to get the stars to show up better. Also, it’s very important to keep all of the stars aligned in the same direction. In my example they are all vertical and it would look very off if one was horizontal.
STEP 9 – OPTIONAL ENHANCEMENTS
I believe in giving you the instructions on how I create my artwork, but I strongly encourage you to let your creative side out. With that in mind, I’m going to mention some ideas that you can use, or not, to customize your postcard.
- Paint the background in such a way the star glows – the color gets darker the further away from the star you are.
- Add glitter. Christmas is always better with some sparkle. Carefully paint a thin coat of glue (like Elmer’s) over the background and add some glitter. You can also add some glitter the edges of the post card.
- Use colored pencils to give the postcard some color. A gold metallic color pencil overlay on the star would be pretty.
- Drill a couple of tiny holes at the top (one each end) and hang your postcard like an ornament.
- Make a keepsake by putting the year on the front of the postcard.
- Create a garland my making several postcards and stringing them together.
- Enlarge the pattern and make a wall hanging with a holiday message on it.
This concludes the Star Bright Christmas Postcard 5 tutorial. I ended up liking this artwork and I’m curious as to what did you think of it. Also, if you have an idea for a future postcard please let me know. If I use your idea I will give you credit in the blog that features the idea.
Now to answer a couple of questions I get asked frequently. This artwork was burned on a piece of die-cut plywood I bought from a local craft store. The piece of plywood measures 4 3/4 x 6 1/2 inches (12.1 x 16.5 cm) and it took me 2 3/4 hours to complete the artwork. Remember I only provide that information as it’s a question I get asked a lot. I do not think it provides any indication as to skill level of the artist. Anyways, I hope my blogs are informative and inspire you to create pyrography artwork.
Until the next blog,
Dec 8, 2017
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Lee Walls submitted this beautiful artwork. The glittery background was created by diluting Crayola glitter glue with equal parts water and brushing on. Turned out great!
This rendition of the Star Bright postcard was submitted by Martin. The artwork looks awesome and the lines are so straight; he obviously has a very steady hand. Thank you so much for sharing your artwork with us, Martin!