This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
This process is akin to carving, with the advantage that it is much more easily learned, and the ultimate result is more readily attained. As a
Orchid Panel for Pyrogravure, with Pierced means of artistic expression, however, it would be folly to compare it with carving to the disadvantage of the Litter, because, although simpler in the initial stages, and allowing of highly decorative results, it cannot be carried to a corre-sponding degree of completion, nor display to the same degree the individual touch of the artist. On the other hand, it has unique qualities of its own, not the least of which is its automatic colouring - that rich, warm hue, ranging from creamy white to the deepest velvet.
For working in relief one uses a knife-shaped "point," similar to that of the ordinary small pocket-knife (see Fig. 5), which is manipulated in very much the same way, with the principal difference that force is not required to make it sink into the wood. In the intensely heated state at which it has to be maintained, it will be found to do its work satisfactorily by simply guiding it smoothly along the lines, with no more pressure than is needed in drawing with a hard pencil. The delicacy of such a point has already been referred to, and the reader will know approximately the extent of its resistance to pressure, and act accordingly. Those who have had little or no practice in relief work should commence with the burning of simple lines and curves, which must be deep and narrow, and never more than about 1/32nd of an inch wide. To make a perfectly clear line, hold the point as nearly parallel to the surface of the wood as possible, and see that it does not slope to either side (see Fig. 9). Use no pressure, but move it slowly and firmly, keeping it at a red heat, along the lines. For burning curves and very small strokes, it must be held more perpendicularly, only the tip (see Fig. 8) being allowed to penetrate the wood, as in this position it will be found to turn more easily. Angles are always commenced from the corners.
A little patience and perseverance with these preliminary strokes will not be wasted, and we will soon be rewarded by acquiring the ability to cut evenly and without jagged edges.
One might assume, from the heavy character of the work, that it is unnecessary to expend much care on the cutting of the lines; but, although, to a certain extent, some latitude may be allowed in this direction, there are always some parts of a design which will show the effect of careless and scamped execution.
Fig. 8. Burning curves.
Fig. 9. - Ordinary use of the tool.
As a next step, the amateur is advised to obtain one or two panels on which are traced, and partly worked, designs in Relief Burning; such a one was illustrated in Volume I. (see page 294). An assortment of these can be seen at most of the large "stores" or artist material dealers; they will be found of the greatest possible help in this stage of the work.
Beginners are very apt, in burning in outlines, to encroach upon the design itself, with the result that when the modelling is finished the design appears somewhat smaller than it was intended to be. To avoid this, the outline (i.e., that against the background) should be drawn in duplicate, and it is the outer one which should be incised.
The lines dividing the background and the design having been burnt in, the lowering of the
Burned Relief Decoration ground is the next step. The depth of this will vary according to the character of the ornament, but it should never be less than one-eighth of an inch. For this purpose I would recommend the use of a carving tool, as it will save considerable time and the wear and tear of the platinum point. The stickler about terms may complain that this is not "poker work"; but a true craftsman will naturally use the most convenient tool, whatever it may be, that will best serve his purpose. W. D Thompson.
(To be continued.)