Pyrography Experimentation

I’ve been messing with pyrog… pylagra… pynography… pyrorororography… wood burning. I’ve been messing with wood burning lately. A few months ago, I swiped a palette that was dangerously close to a dumpster, so I assumed it was trash, and tossed it into my trunk. I powerwashed it at home, and cut into smaller boards, and made this.

Since then, I’ve been studying typography, diving into a fun book by designer Mary Kate Olsen McDevitt, titled Hand-Lettering Ledger. I plan to burn some Halloween-themed phrases into a couple planks in the coming weeks, and want to avoid pre-existing fonts as reference. (I think this reluctance to use anything that already exists in its own right is part of my artistic life crisis.)

Feeling like I’ve already spent too much time away from my wood (Jesus, there is no way to make that sound okay), I drew a picture on a block – slab? I don’t know the terminology for any of this stuff yet; I’m like a blind Buddhist in a brothel – and burned away the night for no reason other practice. (Also, because my wife was mad at me, and the video game store was closed. Thank God I converted our disasterpiece garage into a usable workspace on Friday.) The burnt sketch looks pretty cool.


A couple things I noticed while experimenting:

  1. When I want to switch out different shaped ends for my wood burning tool, it’s a real pain in the ass to wait for the thing to cool off, change the “blade,” and then heat it back up. Really kills the momentum.
  2. The knots of wood have sap in them.
  3. The sap burns like the fiery pits of Hell. (The “wet” areas of the woodblock are where the sap bubbled over.)

I really need a mask…


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