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Burning your carvings

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  • Burning your carvings

    I had a chance this weekend to do a little carving and thought I would share it.

    Your wood burning system/tool can become a great aid in your carving work, especially those carvings that you plan to paint. My carving, an Eastern Dragon, is intended to become a walking stick topper. As I neared the end of the carving steps I thought that I would crisp up the edges and joints using my pyro tools.

    This is a common step in bird and wildlife carving where the fine details of the feather shapes, feathers details, and fur grouping need extra fine, thin line work. But we general carvers can also use this tool to 'snap up' our work.

    I am using three basic pyro tips that will be found in most pyrographer's tool kit. They are the standard writing tip, the small spoon shader, and the large flat shader. I own both a Colwood and a Razortip unit, the tools shown are my Razortip pens.

    Here's the pattern that you can print and use for your own carving, a scan of the carving before any wood burning, and the tool tips.

    This free online tutorial is broughtt o you by ArtDesignsStudio.com
    Susan Irish

  • #2
    Re: Burning your carvings

    I began this project with a 2" square, 12" high basswood practice board. My tool kit included a bench knife, 90 degree v-gouge, medium round gouge, a 1/4" straight chisel, and a small veining tool.

    With this design there are several very deep tight cuts - inside of the mouth and inside of the nostrils. It seems that there are always a few stray fibers that I can't remove except for sandpaper. But on this project I didn't want to lose the chisel plane marks so sanding was not an opinion. Instead I grabbed my burning unit, my standard writing tip and set my temp setting on a medium heat (5). This is just hot enough to burn away the stray fibers without burning dents of tool tip impressions. dragon_burn_02small.jpg

    While I had the standard tip on my unit I worked the tip along my joint lines to create a clean crisp intersection. This helps to remove those areas where my stop cuts might have left several deep lines at the intersection of two rounded areas. dragon_burn_03small.jpg

    I wanted to knock down a few of the extra high chisel plane marks, especially along the brow ridge and center nose areas so I changed to my large flat shader. Since this tool has more metal in the tip I turned my heat up to a medium-high setting (7). dragon_burn_05small.jpg

    To create the ridge effects along the sides of the cheeks and throughout his belly I first burned the ridge line using a medium (5) setting and my standard writing tip. With my small spoon shader set at medium-hot (6) I placed the top of the spoon shader against the line then pulled away from that line. This drops the back side of the ridge. dragon_burn_06small.jpg

    As you work these steps you will discover that your wood burning tool tip literally burns "down" into the wood. This lets me create the finer details, shaping, and levels then my v-gouge or veining tool might.

    Susan Irish

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    • #3
      Re: Burning your carvings

      Since my pyro unit was on the table I decided that I would burn a wood spirit styled Oriental God to the back of my dragon instead of scales. I believe it doesn't hurt to have a little deity with you when you go hiking in the woods
      dragon_burn_07small.jpg

      Since wood burning does darken and even blacken the carving I use it only when I know that I will be painting the finished carving. Eastern dragons are extremely colorful and I want mine primarily in the red-orange tones. So I chose a gray primer.

      You can make your own by mixing two parts of white, one half part of both dark brown and black craft or acrylic paints. Gray primers provide a better, and easier to cover coating for the red tones than white primers. This will cut down the number of coats that I need to get a solid red coating.

      I have spot primed my dragon on the face, neck, and belly. My preference is to use two or three very thin coats of primer instead of one heavy coat. Heavy coats of craft paint tend to fill up the fine detail lines of the carving and burning. Plus they often leave brush stroke marks.

      I thin my primers; whether white, gray, or pale brown; about one part color to two to three parts water. This lets the primer really soak down into the wood and each coat is easy to brush out smooth. Let each coat dry until there are no glossy spots before applying the next and let the entire primer job dry for about one hour. dragon_burn_08small.jpg

      A quick note here is that I use a different colored primer depending on my primary coloring for the carving. White is excellent for pale colors, pastels and pale skin tones. I use a pale or medium brown primer when I will be heavily using bright yellows and oranges, rust tones, brown tones, and medium skin coloring. For the dark colors as red, blues, and deep greens, and for dark skin colors I go with a medium gray primer.

      The smoothness of your primer coats determine the smoothness of your color coats. So, after the primer is well dried I rub the carving down with a crumbled brown paper bag or with a scrunched t-shirt. This polishes the primer's surface removing that gritty feeling it can develop.

      Susan

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      • #4
        Re: Burning your carvings

        I don't think that you can ever color an Eastern Dragon too brightly. For my dragon I have used pale and medium greens that blend into a teal coloring along the nose, the mussel, and the brow/forehead area. The dragon's mane was worked in dark green then blended with teal near the brow line.

        The mouth, lips, and belly are cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, blended into a burgundy red.

        Blending craft or acrylic colors is easiest done by working wet to wet. I paint a base coat of the palest color to the entire area - pale green to the top of the nose and to the bottom jaw. That base coat is mostly for coverage. I will return with a second coating of the base pale color to the entire area. While that second coat is still wet I follow right over it with my blending color. Since the base pale coat is still damp, it is still moveable and therefore blends with the new color. dragon_burn_09small.jpg

        Even though Eastern Dragons are meant to be bright ... this little dude is a bit too vivid for my taste so I decided that I wanted to antique him. After the craft colors dried well I gave my dragon several light coats of glossy acrylic spray sealer.

        Let the sealer dry for at least an hour before you do any antiquing ... working over damp sealer can cause the sealer to become cloudy!

        I spot antiqued my dragon using raw umber oil paint mixed with linseed oil. This mix is about half and half. Using a soft bristled fan brush I paint one coat of the antiquing mix to an small area - about 2" round. Then with a clean cloth wipe the antiquing color off. As long as I move the cloth from the non-antiqued back area (the wood spirit burning area) into the carved antique and turn my cloth to a clean area for each swipe I can keep the back pristine.
        To intensify the antiquing I can rework areas. dragon_burn_010small.jpg

        After the antiquing dries - several days - I will give this walking stick topper another light coat of acrylic gloss spray. It will then be ready to mount to the cane area of the stick.

        Susan

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        • #5
          Re: Burning your carvings

          If you use wood burning to enhance your carvings please add any ideas, suggestions, or tips that you have learned along the way. If you have painting tips please add those too. And if you get an Eastern Dragon walking stick carved I would love for you to post it ...

          Thanks for reading!

          Susan Irish

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          • #6
            Re: Burning your carvings

            Love it! Beautiful job ..love those colors. Thanks for the tutorial.

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            • #7
              Re: Burning your carvings

              Susan, thank you so much for this post....Very usefull and well detailed...

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              • #8
                Re: Burning your carvings

                Fantastic little dragon Susan. Thanks for the post. Just might have to give one a try.

                Tom
                If I took the time to fix all my mistakes, I wouldn,t have time to make new ones.

                www.spokanecarvers.com

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                • #9
                  Re: Burning your carvings

                  Susan thank you for the tips, I am getting ready to buy a wood burner so its nice to see tutorials on what to do. The carving and paint job on the dragon is simply amazing.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Burning your carvings

                    Been using this technique on my work for the past 30 years. Always glad to see it being more widely accepted. Nice carving!

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                    • #11
                      Re: Burning your carvings

                      Amazing work! Thanks of the tutorial.
                      Terry

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                      • #12
                        Re: Burning your carvings

                        Originally posted by Lynn O. Doughty View Post
                        Been using this technique on my work for the past 30 years. Always glad to see it being more widely accepted. Nice carving!
                        Hey Lynn!!! Might you have a couple of photos you could add ... we all would really appreciate them.

                        Susan

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                        • #13
                          Re: Burning your carvings

                          Hi Susan, I use that Technique on all my carvings and feel it is a must. I haven't been doing it as long as Lynn but agree with his thinking. Merle

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                          • #14
                            Re: Burning your carvings

                            I am working on this project, I'm about ready to start the burning. Hopefully the finished project will be good enough for me to post a picture. Then, I'll be asking about how to attach it to the rest of the stick.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Burning your carvings

                              I missed this one when it posted .Great information.

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