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by Kathleen Menéndez

Pyrography News From Around the World

Newsletter No. 40, Page Two of Two


Page One
The Hüsnü Züber Living Museum of Turkey

Page Two
Solarbud: "My Medium Is My Message."
Lynda Gibbs Eaves (1953–2006)

Solarbud: "My Medium Is My Message."

Waiting for Rain
by Solarbud, 2002

Solar pyrography and acrylic color on Maple plywood panel,
19 in. by 30 in.

Image courtesy of the artist

Ouch! Oh! Pyrography!

"Solarbud" is the nom d'artiste since 1997 for Bud Hnetka, a self-taught Canadian artist, who lives on Thetis Island in British Columbia, Canada. He got started in pyrography back in the mid 1980's quite "by accident."

"I was painting a canvas outdoors," he says, "and, to do the details, I was using a 3-inch magnifier. I wasn't paying attention to the position of the sun and during a distraction by my cat Sylvester, I burned myself on the back of my right hand."

"The pain was very intense and to test the power of the sun I burnt a mark on a piece of wood. I immediately realized that I could make an image, so, I made my first solar pyro tree."

Tree Trio Plus One
by Solarbud, 2001

Solar pyrography and acrylic color on Cedar sculpture

Image courtesy of the artist

An Organic Farm and Solar Energy

"It looked so good, that I made another and another. I was so intrigued by the feeling of controlling this beautiful clean energy. At the time I was living on my organic farm in Saskatchewan and I was interested in alternate energy, I was using a wind generator for electricity, I had a solar green house and a solar shower. Solar art made sense."

Three With Trees
by Solarbud, 2002

Solar pyrography with acrylic color on Maple panel,
6 in. by 36 in.

Image courtesy of the artist

Technical Notes

Tool. "I use a number of different sized lenses, from 1 inch to 4 inches in diameter. I am searching for a very large lens (12–18 inches) with a long focal length, so I can stand back from the smoke and work on a big log. I had one child call me on the air pollution!!!"

Woods. Solarbud's favorite woods are Maple and Yellow Cedar. He has also used Pine, Aspen, and Red Cedar. He notes that Fir boards have very interesting grain patterns, and says, "I often use the wood grain to compose my image."

Technique. "In the last few years I have used larger pieces and I am burning much deeper. I make as many as 50 passes with the lens over one spot. My technique is to burn, brush out the ashes with a tooth brush, lightly sand the flat surface, blow away the sawdust, and then burn again. This makes the burn up to 1 inch deep. As a result, my production level has fallen but the result is much more satisfying. These new pieces are solar carvings."

Color and Finish. Solarbud's subtle color effects are done in acrylics, applied mostly, he says, in a pointillism style. His pieces are finished with acrylic medium and then acrylic varnish.

Happy Valley South
by Solarbud, 2004

Solar pyrography and acrylic color on Maple plywood panel,
24 in. by 36 in.

Image courtesy of the artist

Engaging the Public in His Work and His Ideals

"I had become an artist because I was unable to persuade people of the necessity to be more environmentally friendly. To cope with this stress I took up art and music therapy.

Solar pyrography is very good for this because of the dark safety goggles I use, which enable me to go into a meditative state. I also discovered that, when I worked in public, I had people stop and watch or take my picture. Since they were always amazed by how much power such a small lens produced, I realized that by working in public I could turn folks on to solar energy.

When I sold a 12-inch piece for $200.00, I knew I had an artistic future."

Summer Tree Dream
by Solarbud, 2001

Solar pyrography and acrylic color on Fir plywood panel, 9.25 in. by 35.5 in.

Image courtesy of the artist

The Medium

"My Medium Is My Message. At first I called it solar etching or solar burning and even solar laser. When I discovered the word pyrography it became solar pyrography.

For many years I didn't know of anyone else using this technique. When I started going on line I discovered Durf first and now a few more."

Summer Island
by Solarbud, 1998

Solar pyrography on Fir plywood panel, 24 in. by 36 in.

Image courtesy of the artist

From Outdoors to Indoors

"Presently I live on Thetis Island, where I have a home gallery, and during the four summer months I commute by ferry to Chemainus where I work in public on the street. Chemainus is the town famous for its murals and thus has many international visitors. They are so amazed by my work and take tons of photos and videos. I am able to chat with them as I burn and I get so much encouragement.

The winter months here are very cloudy so I get less burning done, but then I have plenty of time to carve and paint my pieces. One day I'll head south for the winter.

I have shown my work at art shows, craft fairs, restaurants, and in galleries locally, on SaltSpring Island, and in Saskatchewan. I think I have the largest collection of solar pyrographs in the world. I still have about 70 pieces, having made more than 100 in the last 20 years. I am looking for a prominent environmental gallery that will promote my work."

They Eat Sunbeams, Don't They? And Moonbeams for Dessert!
by Solarbud, 2001

Solar pyrography and acrylic color on Fir plywood panel,
24 in. by 47 in.

Image courtesy of the artist

New and Old

"This art form is so new that very few people can relate. If they do not observe me working, they do not understand. Even when they see me working they still have a difficult time understanding where the fire comes from.

This art form is actually very old. I found a reference to burning with a lens (Wikipedia under 'history of magnifying lens') in Greek literature in 400 B.C."

Related Links

Solarbud invites you to check out his blog at www.solarbud.ca. This site also includes images of him at work doing his solar pyrocarving and additional images of his works.

Solarbud's earlier monochrome solar pyrography work was introduced in Pyrograffiti back in September 1999.

See more examples of Solarbud's distinctive works in his "Solarbud" Hnetka Salon in the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art.

Expand your horizons and explore the famous Murals of Chemainus at this link.

Lynda Gibbs Eaves (1953–2006)

Lone Wolf
By Lynda Gibbs Eaves

Image courtesy of Danette Smith

In Memoriam

IAPA member Danette "Dannie" Smith has lovingly prepared a Friends' Tribute to talented Canadian pyrographic artist and beloved teacher of pyrographic art Lynda Gibbs Eaves who passed away in December of 2006. Dannie created this tribute as a place where those of us in the pyrography community of artists could gather to remember Lynda, as well as add our own tributes to her. She hopes to show it to Lynda's family and friends as a way for all of us to offer our condolences to them and as a source of comfort to them.

From the Friends' Tribute site for Lynda are multiple links including to the web site for Lynda that Dannie had prepared for her earlier, to Lynda's blog, and also to her E-Museum Salon and WOM article dating from January 2000.

Click here to go back to page one

The Author

Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez learned her pyrography techniques in Guatemala in 1975-1977 under Carmela Flores. Her sister, Artist Sharon H. Garvey, later joined her there to collaborate on a pyrography project designed to promote this art form in the United States by means of a didactic book and a pyrography tool made by Navarro of Mexico.

Thanks to the internet, this is the tenth anniversary of articles on pyrography for the Woodcarver Online Magazine (WOM), started January 1997, and the ninth anniversary of the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art, which opened its virtual doors January 1998. In March of that year, the International Association of Pyrographic Artists (IAPA) was formed and members began meeting on line. Linked from the E-Museum's Café Flambé, which hosts the IAPA meetings, is the Yahoo Groups uniting_pyrographers mailing list, member list, and chat forum set up for IAPA members by IAPA Cofounder Ken "Mixo" Sydenham of Warragul, Victoria, Australia.

2007, Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.