Pyrography for Beginners – Simple Floral Tray wood burning tutorial

In this blog I’m going to explain how to create this Floral Tray pyrography project.  This project is very easy and suitable for any skill level.  You do not need any prior burning experience for this project.  Since there isn’t gradient shading involved, any wood burner will work for this project; including fixed heat solid tip wood burners.  Also you can use the color of your choice so that the tray matches your home décor.

Click on the image to the left to watch a YouTube video version of this tutorial.

Let’s get started



  • Writing tip
  • Shading tip
  • Wooden Tray
  • Pattern (below)
  • Red Colored Pencil (Faber-Castell Goldfaber #126 Permanent Carmine)
  • Pearlescent Red Watercolor
  • Fan

This picture is the pattern

This design called ‘simple floral drawing’ is a copyright free image I found online.  The website I found it from is: 

When I checked this website recently, it appears to have undergone design change and doesn’t at all resemble how it did when I found the image I used. 





The wooden tray I used was purchased it at a craft store a couple of years back.  It is made out of birch plywood, and I forgot to take a picture of it before I decorated it.   Along the top edge it measures 10 1/2 inches square (26.7 cm).  The sides are 1 3/4 inches tall (4.45 cm).   The base or bottom of the tray is 8 3/4 inches square (22.2 cm). 






The pearlescent watercolors I used were manufactured by Yasutomo.  The brand is very inexpensive and not the highest quality, but was fine for what I needed.







The color I’m using is Russet Red, or I think that’s what they call it.  The color in question has a yellow circle around it.   Here’s a link to the set on Amazon:  Yasutomo




I do highly recommend using a fan of some sort.  I like to use battery operated foam bladed fans that run on batteries.  What I like is that they are strong enough to suck the smoke away from me, but not so strong that they will damage or hurt anything if you accidently bump into the blades.  Plus it clips onto most surfaces, so it can attach it to the board close to where you’re working.  Here’s a link to one on Amazon if you’re interested: Mini Fan   

If you are wondering, I do not receive compensation of any sort if you buy any of the products or not.  I’m just letting you know what I’m using.


Smooth the wood surface by sanding it with at least 220 grit sandpaper. 







Then thoroughly wet the board by lightly misting it with water.

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. 


I printed out several copies of the image in different sizes.  I forgot to take a picture before I used them.






I use the tracing method to transfer all my patterns to my projects.  It’s cheap, easy, and gives me control on what I want to include. 

Print off your pattern on lightweight paper (standard copier paper is perfect), coat the back of the pattern with a graphite pencil, position on the wood, and trace over the pattern.   

Notice how I’m only coating the back of the pattern in the areas I need to trace from.  I did not coat the entire paper.



As you can see I cut and folded the pattern as needed to work it up around the sides of the wooden tray.







I used the different sizes and placed them around the tray.  Once I found an arrangement I liked, then I traced the image onto the board.

Also I wrapped the design up and over the sides of the tray.





There are a couple of areas where I sketched in designs.  Mostly I extended the leaves onto the side of the board.






Sometimes the pattern didn’t make great contact near the corners, so I had to pencil in missing and/or super faint lines.


Burn in the trace lines using a writer pen tip.  I would burn the lines to a dark brown color.   Our main goal is to get the trace lines burned in so the pencil marks can be erased.   Make sure to rub a pencil eraser over the area after you’re done burning in the trace lines.  






Try to keep the heat from being so hot that you discolor the wood near or next to your burn marks.   The goal is to create dark, but crisp lines.




I used a writer pen tip to burn in the trace lines. 







The specific pen tip I used is Colwood’s C writer.  This is a pretty standard writer pen tip. 





If you are using a solid pen tip burner I would think than any of the tips pictured here would work.



Because the edges of the tray stick up, I found it helped to rotating the tray around and burn from different sides.







Also I positioned the tray on its side when burning on the sides. I placed my easel right behind the tray, so this helped keep it upright.   





Take your time and do your best to find comfortable position to burn.






I did find that flipping the board over made burning on the outside of the tray easier to do.





Here’s a better picture of how I positioned the tray on the easel for burning on the sides.





I decided to draw in some small petals along the bottom of the flower. 







For some reason I thought the little flower petal I drew in really gave the flower a more finished look.






If nothing else the little petals helped make each flower a little more unique.








Sometimes after I burned in an area I felt like it needed a little something, so I would sketch in some leaves and see how it looked.  If I liked it, then it was an easy matter of burning over the pencil lines.  If I didn’t like it, then I erased it.







Once the trace lines are burned in, and the residual pencil marks erased, and then start filling in areas.  The color should be dark brown or matching the outline color.





In areas where the leaves where larger I used a shader pen tip instead of a writer.   It’s up to you if you want to do the same.








A mini fan was perfect when working on the tray, as it removed any smoke that was generated.






Finishing up the pyrography portion of the tray.






Here’s how the tray looks.








This is a bit of a side view of the tray.  The yellow arrow is pointing to a spot where the design was burn over the upper edge of the tray. 

Use caution when burning on the edge as this is the side or exposed edge of the plywood.  The exposed edge means that when you burn over them you will be burning over the glue layers.  The glue can be toxic when vaporized, so make sure the room is extremely well ventilated!  I also highly recommend using a fan!





I always use a scrap piece of wood to text out color combinations. 

During my testing I burned in the flowers so they were dark brown, and then painting over them and the background with a pearlescent paint.  I didn’t care for how that looked, but that’s the whole point of testing.




Once I have a color scheme I like, then I do a small test burn and apply the colors.  At this point I knew I wanted the flowers red, but I was undecided on the background.   The left side of the board (a), I applied a soft pink pearlescent paint.  The right side I used a light blue color.







After that I applied a glossy finish to the test area to see how that would react.  I’m glad I did!








The pearlescent paints changed colors and they looked blotchy.   I decided that I would leave the background as plain wood on my tray.  This shows the before and after I applied the glossy finish.


Use the colored pencil of your choice and color in the petals on the flowers.  I’m using Permanent Carmine #126 by Faber-Castell Goldfaber.





Then use a blending stump and rub over the colored pencil to smooth it out and help push it down into the wood.







If needed add another layer of colored pencil.








It might be helpful to rotate the board while coloring the petals. 








Continued work.






I did wrap a few petals here and there over the edge of the tray.





The arrow is pointing to a seam in the tray where the colored pencil couldn’t reach.







To fix this I used a fine point marking pen that was similar or a bit darker than the colored pencil to color along the seam.   If you do not have a fine point marker, then use watercolors.






Here’s how it looked after I was done.


Now carefully apply a thin layer of pearlescent paint over the petals. 






Keep in mind that adding a glaze over the colored pencil is not something you have to do.  I do it because I like the metallic sheen pearlescent paints provide.  The paints are not opaque enough to provide the deep color I want, so I apply colored pencils first.   Yes, I could apply multiple layers of paint to build up the color, but I absolutely hate painting so I try to keep it to a minimum.





The arrow is pointing to the flower that has the pearlescent paint on it.   It is a touch darker than than the flower to the left of it.





I’m not adding much water to the paints, so they are not runny.  This means I can paint on the sides of the tray without worrying about the color running down the sides.





For the outside edges I inverted the tray on my easel to paint over the petals.  You can see how the color changes from bright red to a dark red after the paint is applied.





Here’s a picture of the tray after I finished applying color.







The tray is angled in this photo to show the metallic sheen of the paint.







This photo is a composite photo showing the four outer sides of the tray.







This shows the inside of the tray with the outer sides positioned next it.  As you can see, I had a good time putting the floral design around the sides of the tray.


I highly recommend using a glossy or semi glossy spray on finish for your tray. 

I like the polycrylics finishes because they are durable and don’t change color much over time.

If you used a pearlescent paint, like I did, do not use a matte finish.  The matte finish will dull the metallic sheen of pearlescent paints.  I know this from personal experience.






That is it.  I hope you enjoyed this easy and fun project.  You can use this design on picture frames, wooden boxes, etc. 

Now to answer a couple of questions I get asked frequently.  This artwork was burned on Birch plywood tray and it took me 4 1/2 hours to complete it.  The time includes burning and coloring the design, but not applying the finish.

Until the next blog,


Aug 14, 2020

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