A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Fabric Pyrography - 1

Hi I am Sandy Snowden...or Sandy in the UK if you are on any of the art quilt lists.

Beth asked for guests for this month and I thought you might like to get into some of the 'Setting on Fire' part of the "Fire Blog"! ... or at least burning fabric or "Fabric Pyrography", as I call it.

Today we start with looking at backgrounds of this type of work and some artists using burning in their work.

Pyrography - The term means "writing with fire", from the Greek pur (fire) and graphos (writing).

Pyrography can be practiced using specialized modern pyrography tools, using a metal implement heated in a fire (pokers or needles), incense sticks on paper or cloth, or even sunlight concentrated with a magnifying lens. Others have perfected their technique using candle flame; adding smoke to the burn marks made.

Pyrography was known in China from the time of the Han dynasty, where it was known as "Fire Needle Embroidery". But it seems the technique used in more ‘modern’ times was developed in the late 1800’s by adapting an electric cautery tool, one of the latest medical technological advancements of the time.

There is a lot of information about the popularity and development of “Les Arts du Feu: La Pyrogravure” as the French called it, at the very eclectic E-Museum of Pyrographic Art.

from the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art

The most frequently used material for this technique is wood. Any search on Pyrography will bring up images, forums, tutorials, books and more.
Work and tutorials by Lora Irish, author of definitive books on Pyrography and other wood techniques, can be found on her website.

You may have also seen the wood burning technique used on leather. Actually a lot easier than pyrography on fabric.
A variety of ideas, photos and information on tools can be found doing a search for pyrography on leather. For instance, this video by Harry Rogers is quite informative, though the image he draws is a quick sketchy one.
If you want a video of a Master at work, this link takes you to the Takis Leather Work Shop in Greece.(Accompanied by Greek music for your pleasure!)

You are probably familiar with work done using a soldering iron and synthetic fabrics. A few artists who use this technique to create very different looks.

Margaret BealFusing Fabrics and New Ideas in Fusing Fabric - Margaret layers synthetics and sheers over acrylic felt. Then she uses the soldering iron to make marks through the layers. Margaret's website

Kathleen Laurel Sage - Uses dissolvable film, machine embroidery, trapped organza fabrics, cutting back techniques and use of a soldering iron to produce lacy see-through panels. Kathleen's website

Kim Thittachi also uses soldering irons in many ways. Kim's website...Kim uses the technique as one of a wide variety of things she teaches. Jo Vandermay showed her experiments on Lutrador following ideas that Lesley Riley uses. This was on the Fire Blog last year

I use this technique of soldering iron with synthetic fabrics in my own ways, too. However, for this series of posts I want to talk about using a soldering iron to burn marks onto fabric. I will go into this further tomorrow. Meanwhile, do check out some of the links above.

If you have a soldering iron, you might like to get it out so you can get ready to try some of the techniques. If you have used it previously with synthetic fabrics like the artists I mentioned above, you should also get a metal scourer (like for pots and pans) and clean off any residue. *While the soldering iron is cold and unplugged!*

During this series of 4 blog posts, I will keep track of any questions and try to answer them fully on the last post.

EDIT: I will collect any links from the comments and put them at the end of the last post, as well.


  1. A sculptor who uses pyrography - with sunlight - is Roger Ackling

  2. Thanks Margaret! I am just off to have a look.

  3. Using a soldering iron with Lutradur works great. I enjoy making marks with this technique. I love Margaret Beals work too.
    Never seems enough time to experiment!
    I look forward to your posts.

  4. Hi Sandy so nice to see your contribution to the fireblog, looking forward to it!

  5. Fire writing. How fascinating!


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