Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Ever Increasing Circles - the making of Specklebeast and Friends

Hand burnt wooden plaques by Justbod

I love pyrography (the art of burning designs into wood) and have been slightly obsessed with finding different ways to present my designs, as well as different ways to utilise the techniques. 

Although any type of wood can be used as the base to burn designs into, some are much better than others. Firstly because of the texture of the wood: for example, oak burns unevenly, creating unsightly 'blobs,' and also the colouring of the wood. Lighter woods create more strongly-defined designs.

Because of these limitations, much of the pyrographed artwork available is presented on very pale wood, and many designs are produced on the same 'blanks' as the artist is quite often not a woodworker as well. Although there are some stunning artists out there in the pyrography world, I also see a lot of 'sameness' leading out of these initial factors.

I am much fonder of darker woods, particularly oak, which, as I've said, does not mix well with a love of pyrography.

Uffington pyrographed design by bod
I digress. My aim has been to combine a darker frame, with a pyrographed design on a paler wood. My first attempts were to inlay the wood. Technically this is very challenging (certainly to me!) and although I managed it, the results were not exactly what I wanted, and also the time involved unfortunately made the price I wanted to set the pieces at, extremely disporportionate to the time I had spent making them.

Since then my brain has worked ferverishly on the subject, but very much in the back ground, as I have been working on so many other projects. Eventually an idea to effectively 'frame,' rather than inlay, the paler wood came to me (quite obvious now I think of it!) I decided that I would like to create a solid 'frame' from a single piece of wood, and have the central design circular.

circles in bod's workshop

Thus ensued a whole week of work perfecting this frame. A circle may seem an easy shape, but I learnt that I needed accuracy to a fraction of a millimetre when it came to creating the templates for the various circles that I needed for the multiple routing operations that I needed to perform. The eye can also easily discern a mistake in a circle, especially one within a square!  

The process involved many calculations, a lot of failed prototypes, and an increasingly addled brain!

Pretty soon the workshop began to resemble what I imagine Edison's looked like during his quest for the perfect lightbulb (obviously substitute failed wooden circles for failed lightbulbs!)

Horns of Odin hand burnt design by bod
Horns of Odin

Ancestors hand burnt plaque by bod

It took me nearly a week to finally get a frame that I was happy with! Then the bit I was really looking forward to....creating and then burning the designs.  

I started with designs I had already done, Tree, then Coriel, then Ancestors. Each held different challenges, particularly Ancestors.

Tree of Life hand burnt design
Tree of Life

Finally, I created three new designs: Specklebeast, Runestone and Triskele.

Triskele pyrographed design by bod

Overall I really enjoyed it, and I love the new designs. However, I now have lots of slightly different sized circles, begging for some use....

Runestone pyrographed design by bod

Specklebeast pyrographed design by bod

I plan to create some more designs in this series at some point in the future, but, for now, I'm moving onto something else for a change, I don't think I can look at any more circles for a while......

Thanks for reading!



for all of bod's currently available works
~ inspired by a love of nature and history ~


Sculpted wooden tealight holders

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