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by Kathleen Menéndez

Pyrography News From Around the World

Newsletter No. 38, Page Two of Three


Page One
Selahattin Olceroglu Recreates Orientalist Works of the Ottoman Empire

Page Two
James "Jim" Ward--From Woodcarving to Pyrography
Cheryl Dow--A Pair of "How To" DVD Videos

Page Three
Susan Millis: Pursuing a Unique Degree

James R. "Jim" Ward--From Woodcarving to Pyrography

Amber Eyes
by James R. Ward

Pyrography and color on wood panel with bark edges

Image courtesy of the artist

Pyrography Transition

Self-taught Canadian artist James R. "Jim" Ward lives in a small tourist town called Wasaga Beach in central Ontario, Canada. He has been retired for 14 years after a 35-year career with BCE, the local Canadian telephone company. Jim remembers that he got started in pyrography "by accident."

"About 8 years ago, I traded a scrimshawed pendant for some blocks of wood to carve on. At that time I had started to carve birds and was burning the feathers with a Razortip unit with a 1S fixed handpiece."

Brave With Rifle
by James R. Ward

Pyrography on wood panel

Image courtesy of the artist

"A Little Bird Told Him..."

"About 2 years later, Jim continues, "while burning the feathers on a Blue Jay, I wondered if I could burn a picture on a flat piece of basswood, so I took a pencil and drew a wolf's head howling at the moon. I entered it in a competition in the beginners class and won a first and third best of class. Well, this sort of got me excited. I still carve, but my main interest is pyrography."

Jim Ward's Studio and Gallery

Image courtesy of the artist

Technical Notes

Jim has his own studio, which he calls his studio and gallery (and sometimes, when he is in trouble, it is also known as "the dog house"). Notice the many prize winning works he has to his credit. In his own direct way, Jim explains his procedure as follows:

My art background is nil; I am a self-taught person and have developed a style that works for me. I guess my technique could be described as stippling or dotting. Up here I am known as the dot man.

I try to produce a 3-D effect with depth by shading. For hair, fur, and feathers I still use short strokes. My preferred wood is Basswood with the bark still on the edges, and once in a while butternut. I do animals and birds, etc., but doing people I find more challenging.

All I ever use on any of my works is a 1S fixed hand piece, nothing else. I use this blade with the sharp edge facing upwards so that only the point will touch the wood, and I hold it on an angle so that I can see exactly what I am doing. I feel that touch is about 60 percent of the burning, and that the other 40 percent is heat.

Sue Walters, Carole Peters, Cheryl Dow, and Lynda Eaves are all excellent pyrographic artists, and each one of them has her own way of burning, just as I do. Beginners to this art form will read, look, and listen to other artists, but in the long run, they will develop their own style of woodburning.

Alia & Mto.,
displayed with award ribbon from the Kitchener Wood Show
by James R. Ward

Pyrography on framed wood panel

Image courtesy of the artist

Showing His Work

"This past March 17th, I took my latest piece of burning and tried to enter it into the open class of the Pyrography section. However, finally this year, they had novice, beginners, intermediate, and open with the following rule: Anyone who has won 3 firsts would have to be moved to the Masters or Expert division.

In the 6 years that I have been entering, they said that I had won 5 firsts and that the gentleman who won the other first was a chap that I had taught. So up against all the best carvers in the area, I reluctantly put in my Indian girl with a wolf, which I named Alia & Mto.

I guess I got lucky and took first place. This show is called the Kitchener Wood Show and is, as far as I am concerned, one of the best shows in Canada."


See more examples of Jim Ward's award winning works in his James R. Ward Salon in the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art.

Look for the Kitchener Wood Show on the internet and in Chip Chats magazine, as well as Wood Carving Illustrated magazine.

Cheryl Dow--A Pair of "How To" DVD Videos

Woodburning with Cheryl Dow, Discs 1 and 2
Cheryl Dow's Pair of "How To" DVD Videos

Pyrography demonstration on DVD videos

Image courtesy of the artist

Classroom Demonstration on DVDs

American pyrographic artist and teacher Cheryl Dow doesn't let the grass grow under her feet. She is back again after writing books and teaching in various places in the United States each year, this time with a pair of really nice videos that allow the student to view techniques at close camera range in great detail.

Cheryl starts off on Disc 1 showing how to do a barn, which reappears in Disc 2 when she shows how to do grass and later again in how to use colored oil pencils and liquin, as well. She shows various things on each disc, usually demonstrating only a part of each project, so as to cover more material and special techniques in the time allotted.

She covers wood recommendations, use of her Optima tool and points, shows how to do the barn, as well as scenery, wolf fur, eyes, and feathers (an owl project) in the first disc, and does more advanced projects (or parts of them) in the second, including a raccoon, a tiger mother and cub, coloring with Walnut Hollow oil pencils, scales, a frog eye, tree bark, tagua nuts (when she demonstrates the miniature details), calligraphy, and even a human face. In each example, she shows how to do that type of eyes, fur, nose, background.

Cheryl chats away, amenably explaining things while we watch each stroke at very close range as the projects unfold. This is a most helpful format, which the student can return to time and again as each new project comes along. And, if you don't get it the first time, you can revisit whenever you want to remember how to do that special little effect or detail.

And if these two DVDs and her busy teaching schedule weren't enough, Cheryl Dow has organized a big Pyrography Celebration in Cooksburg, Pennsylvania for August of 2007. We'll talk about that in a later issue of Pyrograffiti. Meanwhile, you can visit her web site at www.cherylddow.com to learn more about her DVDs and the Pyrography Celebration, too.

Detail from An Ottoman Bride
by S. Olceroglu

Click here to go to page three

2006, Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.