BBQ Chips Ornament Pyrography Artwork wood burning

My father-in-law and I like to joke around with each other, especially with food.  We blame each other for any food tidbits found on the floor, especially corn; calling each other the ‘corn dribbler.’  If that isn’t enough, we also love to offer food that the other hates.  For example I hate tomatoes, so he really enjoys offering me slices of them.  Since he hates BBQ potato chips I make sure to keep a bag on hand in case he wants a snack.  I decided to up the ante and create a BBQ potato chip ornament for him for Christmas.  This blog will discuss the creation of my BBQ Chip pyrography ornament.   

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




I started with a real bag of tasty BBQ chips, put a bow and some curling ribbon on it, and then took a picture.  This became my reference photo to work from.








Next I printed the photo and placed it along with the some designed from some rubber stamps on an oval shape to get an arrangement I like.








Once I had a layout I liked, then I coated the back of the assorted items with graphite and traced them onto the oval board.








The first thing I burned in on the bag was the chip flavor wording.






I made the pencil marks as thick as the lettering was and, using a micro writer pen tip, I carefully burned the background black.





Then I erased the pencil marks and I was left with a “white” chip flavor on a black background.  Now technically the letters are not white, but instead are the color of unburned wood.  The extreme contrast of unburned pale wood next to black makes the letters look white.


After the lettering was done I started working on the rest of the bag. 








Even though the bag is black in color, it is very reflective, so there is a lot of tonal variation in it.






A lot of the color variation came from how the light struck the creased, wrinkled areas of the bag. 








To replicate this, I slowly built up the color and consulted the reference photo a lot.






Continued work.









Continued work.







In this photo I’ve got most of the lower portion of the black bag done, and, as you can see, there is a fair amount of brown and tan colors present.







Continued work burning in the black areas on the bag.








Now I’m starting to work on the Lay’s logo.






I tend to build up my colors slowly as I frequently consult the reference photo and check the contrast between the different areas I’ve burned.







For example, the red on the banner needed to be many shades darker than the sun behind the banner.  Both the banner and the sun needed to be many, many shades paler than the black background.





So as I burn I compare the different shades and make sure the contrast is sufficient to convey different colors.






Continued work on the logo.






Here’s a progress photo of my artwork, and so far I’m happy with how it is turning out.








Back to working on the bag.






Here I’m working on the sealed seam at the top of the bag.







Adding the slight shadows under the “Lay’s” letters.









Finishing up the top edge of the bag.









Now I’m refining the rays of light radiating out from the sun.







Continued work.






A little fine-tuning of the logo.  






Here’s another progress photo.  What I’ve got left to work on is the bow and the BBQ chips and sauce on the lower part of the bag.








I decided to start on the bowl of BBQ sauce as the bow seemed a little intimidating.





Continued work.







Working on the sauce dripping or running off of the brush.







Continued work.






Now I’m burning in the darker areas on the top of the sauce.  The sauce has ripples in it, so there are areas of extreme contrast.






In this photo I’m working on the wooden handle on the basting brush.







Finishing up the wooden handle.






Back to work on the bowl of sauce.  I was having a hard time deciding how dark to make the BBQ sauce, so when in doubt move onto a different area.





Such as the potato chips.  I started with the smaller chip in the background and gave it a base color and the needed shadows.






Then I switched to a writer pen tip to do the fine detail work like the edge of the chip and the texture on the chip.






With the other chips I tried creating some of the texture first, which is what I’m doing in this photo.  I am burning the fine lines around some of the bubbles that appear on chip surfaces.





Next I used a shader to give the chip color and shape. 






Here I’m burning right along the edge of the chip so it seems paler than the surface or top of the chip.







Continued work on the chip.







Lastly, I’m adding more texture to the chips in the form of tiny dots.  Despite the suggestion that the BBQ sauce is brushed on, we know that in actuality it is a powdered form on seasoning.  The seasoning leaves little dark specks on the chip and that is what the tiny dots are representing.





Since I had the writer pen tip out, I decided to use it to work on the darker areas on the sauce in the bowl.




I made the top so dark that I had to darken the sides to match.






Here’s another progress photo.  This photo shows I’ve drawing in the snowflake sprays along the side.  Besides the sprays, I only have the bow left to do.








I mentioned before that I was avoiding the bow because I thought it would be difficult to do.  Well it was time to take the plunge and get to work on it.





I was very pleasantly surprised that the bow ended up not being that difficult.  Like many things that seem complex, you can just break it down into smaller pieces and it becomes a lot more manageable.  So I burned in the areas between the bow loops first and then started working on one loop at a time.





After one loop was done, I’d move to an adjacent loop and burn that one in.






I ignored all of the other loops on the bow and just concentrated on the single loop I was burning.






This method worked wonderfully for the bow.







Continued work.








I was really pleased with how the tan colors that are produced in pyrography translate well into looking like metallic gold.






Finishing up the bow.







Working on the curling ribbon.







Finishing up the curling ribbon.







Lightly burning in the snowflake spray.








Burning in the other spray.  I put the sprays in place to fill in along the sides of the chip bag and give it a most festive feel.   I kept them pretty light as I wanted accents that didn’t grab the eye right away.





Here’s the final artwork with the ribbon I attached for hanging. 









Because I’m a considerate and generous person, I gave dad the bag of chips, complete with the bow, along with the ornament for Christmas.   In this photo he just opened the present and discovered he’s been gifted with a bag of some of the tastiest potato chips on the planet.






In this photo he is looking at the ornament that I had put under the chips.








Alas, the poor bag of delectable tasty chips had a sad ending.  I received the bag in the mail a month later and it wasn’t looking very good.



I cut open the bag and poured the contents into a bowl.






The bag contained nothing but chip crumbs.  Sad. 






For the last picture, I have my final artwork next to the bag of chips for comparison.


I’m sure you were shocked as I was with the sad ending for the bag of chips.   At least dad kept the ornament and even hung it on his Christmas tree.  He has this tiny tabletop tree that measures maybe two feet tall (0.61m) and the ornament dominated the tree.  I was amazed it didn’t topple the tree. 

Now to answer a couple of questions I get asked frequently.  This artwork was burned on oval shaped die-cut birch plywood that measures 6 3/4 x 4 3/4 inches (17.15 x 12.07 cm).  It took me 8 hours to complete the artwork. 

Some of you might ask, “Wow.  You spend 8 hours on a practical joke?”  My answer is, “Yes, I did, and it was worth it!”   I actually loved creating the artwork and I learned a lot in that process.  That is why it was worth it.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the prank too as I love a good joke.  But it was the creation experience that benefitted me the most.  Plus, I was so impressed with how the bow turned out, that I ended up doing a Christmas postcard (wrapped up) featuring a bow just so I could share the creation process. 

Until the next blog,


May 4, 2018

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