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Margaret Child 1920 - 2013

The Art of Pyrography

Margaret Childs book

This is Margaret's 16 page booklet published in 1988 by Benfoy Press. It is out of print now but the text is reproduced here. It was written with help and encouragement from Stephen Poole who went on to write his own book The Complete Pyrography. Stephen's sampler is one of the illustrations and is also the background image for this section of the website.
Stephen produced many of the pyrographs shown in the book including the row of cottages (below) which is done on a waney edge plank of sycamore with the bark left attached.

The pictures are scanned from the book so are not the best quality

Inside front cover


Page 2


Pyrography is an ancient and unusual art and useful craft. The word is derived from the Greek, pyro - fire and graph - drawing. The effect is produced by burning the material used, wood, cork, leather etc., to various depths of brown to black to make the picture. The technique may vary from the impression of a pen drawing to the solid black and white effect of a block print.

It is very easy to produce most charming effects by the use of simple designs, drawings and techniques. Colour also can be used to further enhance the work. With more sophisticated machines very fine and detailed drawings can be produced by anyone with the slightest artistic skill.

Many superb works of art have been done in the medium and a number of interesting early nineteenth century examples from the Pinto collection are to be seen in the Birmingham City Museum. They were done by the application of steel tools heated over a charcoal fire, supplemented in some cases by the use of acid or hot sand. Sometimes light carving with a gouge was used to heighten the effect or to give light lines on a dark background. Very great skill and patience was required for the finest work because the method was so difficult and tedious but today with the use of modern electrically heated tools it is much easier to control and the medium has become very popular.

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Click here to buy a pyrography outfit with UK 13 amp plug link to Turners Retreat

IMPORTANT - for customers outside the U.K.

The link above leads directly to the UK version with UK 13 amp power cord and plug. Suitable units are available for other countries as follows : - -
Euro 240 volt machine fitted with Schuko plug please click here Euro machine sold by Turners Retreat
U.S.A. (and Canada) machine specially made with 110 volt input and U.S. style power cord and plug please click here.U.S.A. voltage machine sold by Turners Retreat
Machines are,in fact, available for most countries complete with the appropriate power cord and plug and with a transformer suited to the electrical supply. The Turners Retreat website lists UK, European, American, Canadian, Australian and Japanese versions and may expand the list as time goes on. Robert Sorby is the manufacturer now and machines are available from some Robert Sorby retail outlets. See the website for a list of dealers in your country.

Turners Retreat
Turners Retreat Logo

Turners Retreat also trade as Craft Supplies. They sell Pyrography tools and also woodturning tools, accessories and sundries. They have a shop, a web shop and a nice printed mail order catalogue.