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  • Writer's picturealiciaestes

How to Burn Bridges

Alright, it may not sound like what you think - when I say "burn," I'm referring to the art of pyrography or wood burning by hand. It's a pretty unique form of art that's most commonly used in hobby art or lettering. However, with continued practice, you can leverage wood burning tools to create stunning pieces of art as if they were a pen and ink.

I started wood burning when I was young, but it wasn't until around a year ago that I really threw myself into developing this skill. What started out as an idea for some small wood burned ornaments for a holiday market (supporting my other wood art) morphed into it's own small business. Now I create and sell my art projects on Etsy, and even create custom portraits for customers looking to preserve a memory for generations.

How do you get started with wood burning?

Invest in a wood burning tool. If you're just starting out, you can use a pretty inexpensive version like the Walnut Hollow Versa-Tool. This will teach you the basics of temperature control, tips, and pressure. Once you're comfortable and ready to invest in another model, I would recommend the a brand like TruArt or Tekchic, but there are many brands and styles to choose from.


Once you have a wood burning tool, you'll need some materials to work with. I prefer the selection of wood surfaces from Walnut Hollow that are available at Michaels. They have natural basswood rounds that have a beautiful bark edge, or different items to spark your creative interests. There are many different types of woods that work well with wood burning, but not all woods will have the same result. Before starting a project, do some research on the type of wood you're working with to see how it will do. I personally love working with birch and basswood. They burn really smoothly and don't cause gaps in grain like you sometimes see with pine.

I also suggest having tracing paper to help transfer your designs from paper onto your projects. Be careful not to use anyone's personal designs for your work - we all work very hard to create our projects and it's never fun when someone copies your piece of art.

There are many different tutorials and books on technique that you can use - to start, I recommend using a piece of scrap wood to test your burner at different temperatures and with different pressure. You should also test all of your tips to see how each one has a different result.

Don't worry if your first attempt looks like it was drawn by a five-year-old. It's tricky to get used to, but with a little practice you'll start seeing improvement.

Get burning! I can't wait to see what you create!

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