The Art of Pyrography

by Cristian I

In China, pyrography was initially called the "Fire Needle Embroidery". ?

The Wood Burning Art

Although some people are unfamiliar with pyrography’s artistic style, they’ll recognize the wood-burning technique once they see the artist working. This ancient process uses a heated metal pen to produce specific patterns on the natural material as it burns into it.

If you’re a skilled sketcher, pyrography can take your work to the next level. The history of this wood-burning endeavor goes all of the way back to Ancient Egypt. Some of Africa’s oldest tribal cultures have also practiced this technique over the centuries.

In China, pyrography was initially called “fire needle embroidery”.

Although this process is often used for wood, the heated metal pen can also create artistic strokes in leather, dried gourds, and similar objects.

Modern Pyrography Offers the Artist More Choices

When you see modern pyrography in action, you’ll find various tools of varying sizes included in the artist’s toolbox today. It’s much different than what was possible before when only similar items were used to create patterns.

Professional Wood Burning Kit, TEKCHIC Pro1 Wood Burners for Wood Burning Pyrography with 20 Wire Nibs Tips Including Ball Tips
Professional Wood Burning Kit, TEKCHIC Pro1 Wood Burners for Wood Burning Pyrography with 20 Wire Nibs Tips Including Ball Tips<

Since the heated metal tool can include several tips, artists can experiment with several different brushstroke options. When you have a solid lead with a shape similar to a soldering tool, you can get bigger and bolder lines when creating designs.

If you have a looped nib to use with your pyrography, it is much easier to get the delicate shading needed for different outcomes. You can also apply additional pressure with each needle or tip to produce different colors, ranging from a light chestnut to a rich ebony.

You can find several wood burning tutorials online to get the basics of this art form if you’re interested in seeing what you can do with it.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Pyrography?

If you’re thinking about getting involved with the art of pyrography, several pros and cons are worth considering before investing in the equipment you’ll need to create things.

List of the Pros of Pyrography

  • As with most art-based endeavors, you’ll get to tap into your creative spirit with this medium.
  • You can quickly commercialize your items to start a side hustle or an extra revenue stream.
  • The heated pen is usable on virtually any viable surface.
  • You’re always in control of the temperature that gets applied to the tip.
  • Several different sizes, shapes, and widths are available to use for various decorative purposes.
  • The work you put into each piece can feel almost like meditation, making it an excellent way to cope with stress after a challenging day.
  • Some tips allow you to practice pyrography on metal surfaces.
  • You can work with stencils to create consistent results on your preferred medium.
  • The artwork you start with this technique is instantly usable.

List of the Cons of Pyrography

  • Since you’re using a heated pen with this art form, the combination of it with a combustible material can create accidents.
  • It’s not unusual for burns to happen.
  • Pyrography tools tend to be more expensive than other artistic supplies, making it a challenge for some people to try them.
  • Some craft stores don’t have the equipment available to use, requiring you to purchase the items online.
  • You’d want to set a budget for yourself before starting to ensure you don’t go overboard.
  • It is challenging to learn this artistic methodology, even if you have some experience with it.
  • You must get to know temperature and pressure to get a positive result.
  • Even when you do everything correctly, the results don’t always turn out the way you prefer.

Choosing the Best Wood

To get you started, here are some popular pyrography wood types:

1. Alder, a dark wood that is easy to burn and it is inexpensive and easy to find.

2. Balsa Wood has a minimal grain and it is softwood. It is not so easy to find though.

3. Basswood is also a softwood that is good to make decorative pyro art. It is inexpensive and easy to find.

4. Beech is useful for its light color and light hardwood.

5. Cherry comes in a very dark color which can be useful for multicolor art.

6. Hickory is also a very dark wood that can be used for decorative ideas.

7. Maple is an expensive choice and quite difficult to find but it is a great light color hardwood.

8. Oak is not so used in pyrography as it has plenty of grain and it is hard.

9. Pacific Albus is the hybrid type and it is soft, the light color having minimal grain or resin.

10. Pine is one of the best choices for many artists. It’s inexpensive and soft.

Keep in mind that for safety reasons, it’s essential to use untreated wood.

Be aware that pressure-treated wood, particle board, and MDF all contain chemicals that will release harmful toxins into the air when burned.


Once you start burning wood or other materials, you can get a flame-out that can destroy your careful processes almost instantly. If an error occurs, you can’t paint over the mistake like you can with a canvas.

There’s also the issue of the pen being so delicate that it can break. If you’re not used to what is needed with this art form, it’s possible to go through a few of them before you get it right. Since the tools can be expensive, pyrography can develop into a frustrating experience.

Although burning wood, leather, gourds, or other natural materials is a lot of fun, wood art can also be complicated. The only way that you’ll get better at it is by putting in some practice. Once you start writing with fire, you might find that the fun you have creating something outweighs whatever potential negatives exist.



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