Pyrography is the art of decorating wood or other materials with burn marks using a heated object such as a poker. It is also known as pokerwork or wood burning.
Pyrography has been practiced by a number of cultures including the Egyptians and some African tribes since the dawn of recorded time.
It is also a traditional folk art in many European countries, including Romania, Hungary, as well as countries such as Argentina in South America, where it was used to decorate artifacts such musical instruments and kitchenware. In Europe the use of pyrography is thought to have appeared in the medieval and renaissance periods.
Dried gourds used as domestic vessels are one of the most widespread artefacts that are decorated with pyrographic techniques and this spreads the net of possible areas where it would have been common practice to all tropical and sub-tropical and many temperate parts of the world.
Pyrography means “writing with fire” and is the traditional art of using a heated tip or wire to burn or scorch designs onto natural materials such as wood or leather.
Burning can be done by means of a modern solid-point tool (similar to a soldering iron) or hot wire tool, or a more basic method using a metal implement heated in a fire, or even sunlight concentrated with a magnifying lens.
WOOD – Light-coloured hardwoods such as sycamore, beech and birch are most commonly used, as their fine grain is not obtrusive, and they produce the most pleasing contrast. However pine or oak are also used.
Leather – Leather lends itself to bold designs, and also allows very subtle shading to be achieved. Specialist vegetable-tanned leather must be used for pyrography, (as modern tanning methods leave chemicals in the leather which are toxic when burned) typically in light colours for good contrast.
Gourds – It is popular among gourd crafters and artists, where designs are burned onto the exterior of a dried hard-shell gourd, usually with dramatic results.
Tagua – Tagua is sometimes called ‘Palm or Vegetable Ivory’ and is a seed from the Ivory Palm. It is similar to animal ivory in look and constistency. The only limitation in using this exotic nut is the scale of work possible, which is determined by the size of the nuts (about the size of an egg).
Painting of the Master Craftsman – OLCEROGLU, Selahattin (Turkey)
The application procedures of this rare technique have been improved for young generations to practice it.
This art form deserves to be accepted as a new branch of plastic arts (Plastic arts are those visual arts that involve the use of materials that can be molded or modulated in some way, often in three dimensions. Examples are clay, paint and plaster.) and that it has a great potential for creating its own Mona Lisas.