Monday, 20 August 2018

Paper Pyrography
with Adrian Timmins




Following an introduction into the world of Pyrography, courtesy of artist Adrian Timmins, we thought that we'd ask him to give us, and you, an insight into his practises. We'd like to thank Adrian immensely for writing this article for us!

Pyrography Term:

'Pyrography or pyrogravure is the art of decorating wood or other materials with burn marks resulting from the controlled application of a heated object such as a poker. It is also known as pokerwork or wood burning.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrography


Adrian Timmins:

“After sharing some of my artwork with one of the representatives at St Cuthberts Mill, I was asked to write an article concerning pyrography (burned art) and my work on paper.

Pyrography has a reasonable following worldwide, but is extremely popular in the USA. I run a facebook group where advice concerning pyrography machines, techniques, and materials are discussed on a frequent basis. For the most part there is a tendency to use wood for pyrography and this is also how I got started. Burning wood has the benefit of being quite cheap, and forgiving, if you make a mistake, simply grab the sander and remove the offensive area.


Two different pyrography pens

The tools used by pyrography artists range from the very low end soldering type tools with no temperature controls, (these are known as solid point pens, and some do have temperature controls) up to specialist machines made by various companies where there are a plethora of different shaped tips available. Much as an artist will have various brushes / pencils or pens, I will add we have some artists who produce incredible work with any of the above tools So start up costs can be as low as £15.00, up to approximately £115.00 for something like a Peter Child's machine (Made in the UK and the most popular machine here in the USA.)


A Peter Childs pyrography machine

It was just over a year into my wood pyrography I saw a few paper pyrography works. I was instantly attracted to the beauty of paper burning, and decided there was no time like the present. I headed straight to a local craft store purchased some cheap art paper, got home, and was somewhat dissuaded after burning many holes in it. Frustrated, I sought advice on the papers currently being used by the few artists’ who do paper pyrography. At this point I had very little knowledge of paper in general, and had previously done most of my charcoal work on very cheap papers.

The next piece of work I produced on slightly better paper, looked reasonable and I was pleased with the overall effort. I continued on accepting that a lot of practice would be needed in order to avoid burning through the paper, and getting nice dark shades in certain areas.


Adrian Timmins - pyrography on Bockingford paper

I started adding some Sepia and Black inks to certain pieces to achieve the desired effect, not realizing that to a great degree it was the paper I was using that was holding my pyrography shading back. My work was being noticed and commented on by a lot more people, but I still wanted to achieve everything using solely pyrography and not use inks to get those lovely dark tones.

During recent months, I had started wondering whether there could possibly be a paper made specifically for pyrography, or at least a more suitable paper than I was currently using. I browsed and contacted a few paper mills receiving a few raised eyebrows along the way when asking, "How does your paper burn, as I am a pyrography artist", Most of the comments were "What's pyrography?” 

I received samples from some of the mills and most of these were simply not suitable. One of the things you instantly look for when doing paper pyrography is the "Burn through" point. This is the depth you can achieve with Brown or Black before you are risking burning a hole through the paper.


Eliminating, or at least severely minimizing this risk, leaves a pyrography artist concentrating more on their work than fearing how long it will be before the work is possibly ruined.


Adrian Timmins - pyrography on Saunders Waterford CP(NOT) paper


I eventually came to work on some CP (Cold Press) Saunders (Waterford) 100 % cotton samples, which were stunning for pyrography in every respect. I could finally achieve great contrast without even coming close to burning through the paper. I could also correct mistakes, and much to my delight no buckling to deal with. My first piece on CP Saunders paper was burned and went straight to the frame without problem. Since this time I have used many of the St Cuthbert’s papers, even their printmaking paper, which gave lovely results. Each paper requires a different temperature, and a slightly different approach to be successfully burned.


Adrian Timmins - pyrography on Somerset paper

If you have any interest in pyrography, please feel free to contact me, or join my group. Advice within the group is completely free, and myself or another experienced pyrography artist is usually available to help with any questions concerning Pyrography, or supplies. We have artists of all levels worldwide, and we keep a friendly open environment.” 


(It is a closed group so please answer the questions is you apply)

Facebook – Ade Timmins:  https://www.facebook.com/RedWirePyrography/



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