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Wood engraving to Wood Burning

The Evolution of an Art

The actual technique of wood engraving began in the late 1800’s and began to see real popularity in the early 1900s. Actual wood engraving eventually led to the concept of wood burning. Wood burning went through an era of great popularity in the mid 1900’s but eventually grew to be just another hobby among millions of hobbies.

Today, wood burning and wood engraving is enjoying a comeback in popularity, largely due to the fact that many department stores and hardware stores carrying the tools needed to practice this pastime. One has to wonder, though, if this should actually be considered a pastime, a mere hobby, or an actual form of art.

In its originating era, woodcarving was considered a true art form. One of the early progenitors of this a man named Thomas Bewick. Bewicks’ work is considered a fine art and worth a considerable amount of money, even today.

Wood burning is highly practiced in today’s times, but only a very few of the practitioners could actually go so far as to be called artists. You see, there are literally millions of templates and patterns for wood burning available, both online and in hobby shops. Utilizing these could not be considered original art. However, there are a few select individuals out there that wholeheartedly put an incredible amount of creativity in their work. These are the ones that refuse to use templates and instead choose to utilize their own muse, their inner creativity in their designs. Unfortunately, they are not often looked upon as artists.

Getting into the art of wood burning, actually touching on the art form aspect of it, usually requires some already present artistic ability. Usually, sketch artists, painters and drawers of any kind are the ones that excel in wood burning. If you can’t draw with a pencil, then you will likely not be able to draw with a wood burner.

Starting out, simply buy a kit at your local department store. You can generally find these between the prices of ten and twenty dollars. The kits usually include the wood burner itself, which is little more than a fancy soldering iron, a few different tips and a couple of tree slices for canvas. We suggest that you find some scrap wood around to use instead of the canvas slices. Save those for when your art becomes a little more precise.

The process is relatively simple. Put a tip on your burner, wait a few minutes for it to heat up, and then go to work. Test your tip before you actually attempt art. Different amounts of pressure will actually make the lines darker and wider while little pressure and a quick run across will make a light thin line. Practice is the key here. You will eventually learn that the tip can be held at different angles to achieve different results.

Though you may want to start out with carbon paper, transferring your own designs to the wood, you will eventually be able to simply picture the image in your mind and go to work on it. Give it a try. You will be amazed at the beautiful work that you can produce with nothing more than a wood burning kit and your imagination.

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