Ornate Trinket Box
Tell me more about the background of Pyrography…
Pyrography literally means “writing with fire” and dates back hundreds of years. It is also often called wood burning or poker work, the latter due to the metal pokers used in Victorian times which were heated to use as drawing tools. Modern electric pyrography machines allow more controlled results, as well as the availability of shaped metal nibs to create a wide range of marks and lines. Using pyrography to decorate a wooden surface has always reminded me of the way that we adorn our own skin using tattoos, hence the name of my crafts business, Wood Tattoos.
What inspires you?
My main passion and inspiration is the use of texture and pattern. I enjoy making items that make people want to hold or touch them. My creations have always used such embellishment or decoration, right back to my work on my degree in Three-Dimensional Design. I'm inspired by the textures and patterns that occur naturally around us, whether this is through the random arrangement of items on a shelf or through the close examination of a natural surface. Many of my designs use patterns based on microscopic studies of natural surfaces such as coral, plant cells or fingerprints. I also enjoy using both traditional and alternative symbols or patterns, such as Celtic knotwork and tribal tattoo designs.
Describe your typical working day….
I create my pyrography in my spare time. I started wood burning as a hobby back in 2007 to give me a creative outlet when not working at my 'day job'. I joined a craft forum to get information and advice on general issues: before I knew it, I had a website displaying my work and was selling both online and at craft fairs. As a result, I don't have a structured 'working day' but I tend to use any spare crafting time updating my websites and promoting my work on-line, liaising with customers by email to develop commission designs, developing other products to sell and physically working with my pyrography equipment to create the finished articles. I've said it before and I'm sure many crafters would agree... we all need a 37-hour day to fit in what we need to do!
Do you have a favourite piece that you have created?
My favourite piece so far is definitely a large chessboard I made for a fellow crafter. I collaborated with a woodworker to create the board itself as a bespoke item to fit the specified requirements. It then involved nearly 30 hours of work including the planning, layout and burning of the final design which had an Oriental theme. The creation of the board was turned into a 6-page section for my pyrography book where I discussed the design process for larger pieces. The finished chessboard was a joy to look at, and I am now planning to make my own chessboard to keep myself as the process was so enjoyable!
How did the idea for the book come about?
The idea wasn't mine and came completely out of the blue one day! I received an email from an editor at Fox Chapel Publishing in 2008 stating that they had seen my work and liked my personal style of design. They asked if I would consider writing a book on pyrography: it's always been a personal ambition of mine so I was more than keen to get involved. After nearly two years of hard work and determination, I am extremely pleased with the finished result and hope that Wood Burning with Style will help many budding crafters learn the art of pyrography.
What are you working on just now?
I've been doing a lot of animal portraits recently which are very challenging but rewarding. It can be quite difficult to capture the personality of a pet from a photograph, but the finished result is always so well received once complete. I am also working on a range of decorative wooden bracelets, which I also featured in my book as a step-by-step project. I have also been working on a number of personalised wedding frames which are a popular item I am asked to make: the frame is decorated with the names of the happy couple, details of the big day and other designs which make the frame special to them.
Where do you see Wood Tattoos in the next 12 months?
I've got some other book ideas in the pipeline with Fox Chapel Publishing : I think I've been bitten by the writing bug! I would also like to just continue creating unique designs and gifts for customers : I feel that the current financial climate has made people more aware of how they spend their money and what they get for it. The appeal of handmade gifts is rising as people recognise that their money can buy something unique, personal and meaningful to mark an occasion such as a wedding, birthday or similar.
What is on your wish list?
My main wish is to keep making and selling items that mean something to the people that buy them. I also hope that my book inspires other people to take up this enjoyable craft and develop their own personal style of creative expression.
Describe yourself in three words…..
According to one recent book review in an American magazine, I'm “hip”, “modern” and “edgy”! I still can't resist using a tongue-in-cheek description that a friend used to describe pyrography though... “crayons for arsonists”. So perhaps the best three words to describe me would be “a crafty pyromaniac”!
To see Simon’s range of products visit:-
Wood Tattoos Facebook Page
Wood Tattoos Flickr
Simon's book Woodburning with Style is available via his website or from Amazon