The history of pyrography is of an art that originated in pre-history. Early man documented their life in pictures – as has man throughout the ages.
Drawing was the first method that man used to tell stories and communicate. And after the important discovery of fire, the early form of “wood burning” was invented.
Follow us through the remarkable development of this art and the tools through the ages. That this art form has stood the test of time is a testament to its durability and charm.
This ancient art form is very much alive today with beautiful and decorative products being created at home and on a commercial scale worldwide.
Early History of Pyrography
By using the charcoal that remained from their fires; early man discovered they could create patterns, designs and drawings on their walls. The natural progression of intuition and understanding synonymous with human nature aided their progression to using stone (or much later – metal) to scrape the charred wood of their fires. They discovered that scraping off the burnt black surface allowed the underlying natural wood to show through. This inspired the creation of designs and patterns in a different form.
Unfortunately, this method did not create permanent works of art. Much later in mans evolution in technology – the employment of metal implements meant that basic pyrography tools were manufactured. When looking back into the history of pyrography, you will find more permanent artworks having been burnt onto leather, wood and even bone.
Using heated metal objects directly from the fire onto burn their preferred medium, art was created.
This very simple, but effective method was in use until Medieval times.
Development Of Pyrography Tools: Pyrography Art As We Know It Today
The history of pyrography kept in step with man as he progressed through the ages, with wood burning techniques evolving too. Interesting and beautiful artifacts have been found in Peru and Roman Britain dating back to before the 1st century. With the progression of time through the centuries, particularly the Medieval, Renaissance and Victorian eras, wood burning became a more and more popular pastime.
A wood burning toolkit during these eras consisted of a portable pot or stove. These had a number of holes made in the lid or stove top. These allowed pointed pokers of varying shaped “nibs” to be inserted and heated in the hot coals placed inside. The pokers or rods would tend to cool off quickly while they were being used, therefore several pokers were required in order to keep the momentum of work going.
This method of early wood burning was called “pokerwork”.
The progression of “pokerwork” from being a hobby or pastime of the wealthy and jobs for local craftsmen – to a commercial endeavor, happened with the invention of the first machine.
This industrial revolution was when the term “pyrography” came into being.
The Pyrography Tool is Born
By the early 20th century the development of the electric pyrography tool or soldering iron, created a small tool that allowed more control for the artist.
This development made it easy for the art form to be brought into the art studio of individuals and home artists.
Even with man’s technological advancements through the ages, the basic artistic techniques and methods have changed very little.
Burning with a hot tool is still the only possible way to create a wood burning.
The availability of different shaped nibs, finer honed tools and temperature controls have given pyrography artists the ability to create detailed and beautifully intricate workmanship using modern pyrography techniques.
This encompasses all styles and genres on many differing mediums.
Wood burning ideas, people’s artistic abilities, and man’s love of this art form has remained unchanged over the centuries.
It has just got a little more technically advanced.