Both of the girls have wanted to try wood burning now for some time. They had expressed their interest in taking a session about wood burning at a 4-H winter workshop day. However, they didn't get into the class due to full enrollment.
The projects done at the 4-H workshop were simple because there was only about 50 minutes for the class.
The class we took was 3 hours and led by an artist. The experience we had provided a more in-depth look and creative instruction - so things worked out fine.
After the artist introduced himself; the class members introduced themselves; and the artist gave some background and instructions about the wood burning, we could begin on our projects.
The first step was to select an image that we wanted to start with and place it on a piece of wood. Olivia chose an image of a pheasant.
I chose a butterfly.
For the first project, Sophia decided to create her own image by sketching it directly onto the wood. For her second project, Sophia used one of the photocopied images.
If the designs weren't hand-drawn on the wood, we used a piece of carbon paper and tape. The tape affixed the image where we wanted it and the carbon paper went under the image. We used a pen to trace the outline of the image and a few details.
The next step was to take a smaller piece of wood and practice using the wood burning tool. It is quite different than a paintbrush, colored pencil, or marker.
Your hand is further up the barrel and can't go near the point since the metal tip is all heated. It gets pretty hot too...it takes just a split second to pull one's hand away when the tip is accidentally touched.
Also found out that longer hair should be tied back. The girls didn't have any challenges with their hair, but twice mine touched the hot tip and the smell of burning hair permeated the room. It's not a pleasant smell.
At any rate, after practicing on the smaller wood pieces, we tried our hand at the designs we chose.
Depending on how much emphasis you wanted on the image, you could hold the wood burning tool like a pencil and trace your image lightly; press down more to darken the lines, or hold it at an angle and burn off sections of the wood.
Since the butterfly was black, I used the side of the tip and held it down as I moved it slowly on the wood. It definitely darkened the areas that I wanted to be black.
Sophia did a very nice job using the side of the tool to add subtle detail and shading.
She did both lighter shading with the fish and darker shading with the rose that she drew.
Olivia's pheasant was much lighter in comparison to what Sophia and I did. She added lots of little dots and marks on the wings and chest to represent feathers.
We had a mixed reaction to wood burning. Sophia enjoyed it and definitely wants to do more wood burning projects in the future.
Olivia and I both felt like we were introduced to a new art form and gained some skills that we didn't have prior to the class. However, we both have other types of art and crafts that we prefer.
If anything, this class gave me a huge insight into the level of work and talent involved with wood burning. It is significantly more complicated than I anticipated. Seeing projects that have been wood burned at the county and state fairs now will be much more interesting now that we know the process and skill needed to do the images.