Monday, April 21, 2008

Woodburning Down the House

Woodburned BoxI never knew I wanted a woodburning tool until I bought one on a whim with a 40% off coupon and since then I've been making my mark everywhere (and having a fabulous time).

I bought a bunch of little wooden boxes, lined them with felt, glued mirrors inside the lids then burned a simple design on the top.

Sometimes I painted the designs, sometimes I didn't (that's the kind of discretionary power I wield around here you know) but it's really an easy way to add a bit of style to things. Trace your picture in pencil--or transfer the image from an embroidery pattern--then lightly go over your design with the woodburning tool.

Woodburned BoxThis is really about the easiest craft in the entire world. If you know how to use a pencil (or rather an electric pencil I suppose) you already know how to use a woodburner--it's that easy. Though here are couple things to keep in mind:

1. Burn first, paint later. Don't drag the woodburner over varnished or painted wood, it dirties the tip and burns unevenly because the paint or varnish is flammable. When I made those mushrooms I painted the colors in after I'd burned the pattern.

2. Practice good landings and takeoffs. The hardest part of woodburning is the point where you first set down the tool on the wood. You tend to linger too long and that creates a big black dot of nastiness where you touched. So be especially vigilant on the landings and takeoffs--kind of gliding onto the surface rather than plopping your pen down to avoid making that black crater.

Woodburned Tea Tray3. Every wood is different. Some are softer, some burn more easily so test it carefully before jumping in. I bought a bunch of little wooden discs for $.40 and practiced my strokes on those before I did it for real on anything of significance. Your tool tends to cool down the longer it's in contact with the wood so sometimes you have to pause and let it heat back up again.

4. Simple is prettier. I looked at library books on woodburning and most of the masters had these huge elaborate pieces with shading and hatching and they looked so . . . so . . . so . . . not me. Something about woodburning lends itself to simplicity.

Try taking a simple child's drawing (oops! Perhaps I misplaced my modifiers? I meant that the pictures should be simple, not the child) then transfer it to a box--it'll look beautiful, much better than the shaded Elvis head superimposed over an American eagle I saw. Look for embroidery patterns online to give you ideas for designs, you can even buy metal stamping tips to attach to your tool so you can stamp letters in the wood. You can handle stamping right? How easy is that?
Woodburned Box5. Be creative. Try burning gourds, popsicle sticks, cork, whatever strikes you. Trivets, baskets, bookmarks, trays, there are plenty of possibilities. If I don't slow down you're going to find designs on the piano legs, entertainment center and front door. Where will it end??

I've stuck all my woodburning craziness in my Etsy store--there just wasn't enough space to post everything here. I'm still working on a few others including a set of blank matryoshka dolls that I'm in love with but more on those later. Lately I've been loitering in Sixth and Elm's Etsy shop where she takes woodburning to new heights--I'm going to work at it until I can make one of those scripted boxes! Oh yes, I will make one . . .

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26 comments:

Yes, my name is Arizona said...

I love woodburning! I'm not good at it, but think its beautiful. I love the pieces in your photos.

Erica Douglas said...

I really love the tea tray :)

Kristen M. said...

I've thought about trying this before with my children's drawings. I just haven't done it yet. Thanks for the inspiration.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Honey? That onion dome? So not simple to me!

And how do you "transfer" a drawing? And how do you keep this terribly fascinating tool out of little boys' hands?

JanMary said...

Now - that looks scarey!! Think of the damage I could cause with that :)
Your work looks beautiful, thanks for sharing.

Lei said...

The birdcage is just adorable. And I *love* the picture you posted of the writing in the base of the tray. That's beautiful! Sixth and Elm has some fabulous items as well!

Thanks for sharing!

Patty W said...

You always leave me smiling while, during and after reading your posts Michelle! You are one very talentedly (new word?) cool chick!

chelle said...

Beautiful! I used to do wood burning when young and carefree ... your designs are beautiful!

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I noticed these in your etsy store last night and was wondering why you hadn't blogged about them yet. =)

I love wood burning. I once made a very cool design on my dining table with a wood burner. Sadly we out grew that table, but I'm making plans to burn my current table (just have to find the time).

Mrs Nespy said...

These are beautiful! This is something I've never even considered trying although I've passed by the tooling in the store many times. I just figured that they were for much more talented people than myself!

By the way...I've tagged you for a meme, so join the fun!

No. Absolutely not. Dogs, cats, fish, yes. Nothing else. Not even a ferret...they stink. =)

By the way...I've tagged you for a meme...visit the address below for more details...

http://mrsnespysworld.blogspot.com/2008/04/tag-im-it.html

Jill - GlossyVeneer said...

I used to see these woodburning kits when I was younger and always wanted to try it. Maybe now I will, your post sparked that intrigue again!

WomensDaily said...

I love woodburning. I haven't done it in a really long time though.

Bertie said...

That is so cool! I don't think I have ever heard of that before:) There is always beauty in simplicity! Nice work!

MyKidsMom said...

This sounds like fun (with a little practice). Will one of the cheap woodburning tools do as good a job, or is yours higher quality? Also, in your opinion, would it be suitable for a 10-year-old boy to try? Sorry about the loads of questians;)

I found your link at Mrs.Nespy's and thought I'd stop by.

DOODLEGIRL said...

I've never heard of wood burning - sounds fun

Mrs. Annie said...

Sister, you are far, far more talented than I am!

Babystepper said...

I went through a little wood-burning kick many moons ago. OK, so actually I absconded with my father's wood-burning kit, but that's just water under the bridge.

My real problem has always been getting the images in my head down onto the medium, be it paper, wood, or clay. Truly pathetic, I promise you. Oh, how I would love to have some kind of artistic skill. Alas, it is not to be.

Scribbit said...

The tool I have isn't a fancy version (they have some that have temperature control and all sorts of goodies built in). I think it was regularly marked at $30-$35, and I got mine 40% off. Mine came with a variety of tips and a case but if you buy more tips they can add up quickly.

Scribbit said...

Oh and to transfer a drawing you could do in several ways, you could of course draw something freehand on the item easy enough--pencil erases or sands off well so that's not a problem. Or you could iron on a transfer pattern such as you'd get for embroidery. I think you can also buy the blank transfer paper too which would allow you to print it off in your computer.

Jennifer James said...

Hi there! Thanks for joining the Mom Bloggers Club. We love your blog!

Melissa Lea said...

You are one talented lady!

planetnomad said...

When I was 7 (no, surely not, possibly 8? or 9?) I DREAMED of a woodburning kit. I got one for Christmas--my fav gift. I can still smell that burned wood scent. I used it fervently for all of 3 weeks and then never again. :)

Your work, however, is lovely.

crazy working mom said...

Wow, very cool! :)

teal said...

I've never tried woodburning, but as you describe it, it seems simple enough. I'm going to give it a try with my brownie troop...after I practice, of course!

Sixthandelm said...

Thanks for the mention, I love woodburning and my husband has started hiding all the wooden items so I can't doodle on them with the burner.

My technique for transfering a pattern is to print it out on a laser printer, or make a photocopy of your art on a photocopier with a carbon toner. Be sure to print it in reverse. Then take the large round transfer point in the woodburning kit (you can buy it separate from walnut hollow), place your copy image side down on the wood and burn the back of the paper against the wood (always keep the tip moving) until the toner melts and transfers to the wood. Then just burn over the toner on the wood. I also use carbon paper from used purolator strips if I can't copy the image nicely and need to do it by hand. I'll post a tutorial on this on my blog later today, if you want.

Although I have a professional unit and pen now, those script boxes were made with nothing more than a 10$ woodburner. I love the burning you have done so far and can't wait to see you do a script box too!

AlaneM said...

I love your designs!
we actually have one of them somewhere around here. My dad brought his to a family camping trip a few years ago & the 3 SonIL's were practically fighting overe it. Yup, they all got one that year for Christmas :)