by Kathleen Menendez
Antique Pyrography, Page 3
Collecting Pyrography, Conclusion
Pyrograffiti: E-Museum Announcement, References from Article,
Items of Interest, Bio
Any discussion of antiques has to include the collection of
them. Collecting antiques is a passion for many, and according
to the Smyths, pyrography is a very promising collectible at
this time. In an amusing anecdote in their book, The Burning
Passion, they tell how they got started collecting antique
American pyrography while looking for just the right gift for
In a recent conversation for this article, Richard went on
to recount their success at a Manhattan show where they set up
a 20-foot booth displaying an impressive collection of pyrography.
Never before had the antique-collecting public met with such
an array of pyrography--it was a sensation.
The Smyths also noted that because pyrography has been very
overlooked in the past, it is easier to acquire at reasonable
prices. At the same time, the prices are going up as this neglected
art form is starting to be discovered. It is still at a point,
however, where collecting could prove a lucrative investment
as well as a pleasurable activity.
|Curious household niceties,
Pyrographed to enhance the
proper home of the Victorian era
Australia, early 1900's
Two round tablets tied together
Used to store the little doilies that were so much a part
of every household of that period
|Handy little set for brushing the crumbs
from the table between courses
Both sets from the private collection of
Mixo Sydenham, Australia
Photographs by Mixo Sydenham
On the other side of the world and down under, pyrographer
Mixo Sydenham has a personal interest in antique pyrography because
of pieces in his family inherited from a great aunt who had a
shop with pyrography in the 1930's. Mixo, already making his
living creating today's pyrographic art works--destined, no doubt,
to be treasures for some future generation of antique collectors--is
not failing to notice that pyrographic art in general (that is,
antique and new) is becoming more recognized and more coveted.
He, too, has seen the "pyrograffiti" on the wall regarding
this promising trend and has actively begun collecting antiques
Conclusion.It was not the intent of this article to
provide more than a random look at the history of pyrographic
art. As you can see, there are still many, many gaps in our pyrographic
art history. Fortunately, we now have an e-museum website where
we can start gathering art work in pyrography from the past and
the present, with the realistic hope of real-world exhibits at
the national and international level in the near future.
Next Issue: "Pyrography: Variations"
An Interview with Al Chapman on Some Facets of Fire
Pyroengraved art with color by Sophia Albu Ionita.
It is a great pleasure to invite the readers
of the WWWoodc@rvers E-Zine to a sneak preview of the world's
of Pyrographic Art
Please visit this unique virtual edifice and
monument to the art of pyrography present and past. See work
by Dino Muradian, Mixo Sydenham, Sophia Albu Ionita and others,
plus antiques, books, and tools.
Although still very new--watch out for wet
paint!--there is already a substantial collection; however, many
of the pieces already in the e-museum's collection are still
in the virtual attic and are being prepared for hanging, so come
back often to see new arrivals on display. When you see the floor
plan (available soon), you will realize the scope of the project,
and the directory that is already available will offer further
explanation. There you will see which collections are already
displayed and which ones are in the planning stages.
Remember, if you are a pyrographer or a collector,
all you need is a good photograph of your artwork to become
a part of this unique project. Come share your favorite masterpieces
(with just a photo), and network with the rest of the community
of pyrographic artists and collectors.
write me an e-note and tell me about
your work in pyrography. Your comments and your participation
are most welcome. Let me know if you have further information
on any of the questions raised in this article on antique pyrography.
Also, put your e-mail address on the list to be notified of the
first meeting of the international pyrographers association.
Note that there has yet to be a first meeting; the obstacle has
been one of finding a suitable chat room where everyone has access
(across platforms and from behind firewalls).
Thanks to K. J. Mixo Sydenham of Ellinbank,
Victoria in Australia for many of the photos of antique pyrography
shown here and in the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art.
Mixo calls himself 'a man on a mission'. He
has devoted 1997 to promoting acceptance of pyrography as an
entity within its own right. His primary objective is to obtain
equal opportunities for Australia's pyros to exhibit, promote,
teach, and market their efforts to those that other officially
supported and commercially recognized visual arts media currently
To this end, he has organized The Victorian
Pyrography Touring Collection, a first for Australia (and
quite possibly the world). To inaugurate the Collection, The
Old Cheese Factory at 34 Homestead Rd., Berwick is sponsoring
a four-day Pyrography Expo', 22-25 January 1998. In February,
the Collection will reside in Paris Stavrinidis's Clarke St.
Gallery in Brunswick.
Just bestowed with 'The Pick of the Net Award'
from Melbourne-based SOFCOM AUSTRALIA, Mixo's website The
Pyro Cafe Gallery now exhibits work by five of Victoria's
leading pyrographers (or "pyros"):
Paris Stavrinidis from Brunswick,
taught by his mother in his native Greece, has distinctive styles
of presentation, one of which is monochrome with intricate textures
and the other delicate coloration blended with extremely fine
burnt outlines. The latter is similar in technique to Australia's
poker work from the medium's popular period in Australia in the
1920's and 30's. Paris and his wife Jenny manage a gallery
Michael Vincent Rori of Ballarat
is managed by Tom Byron (also manager to other renowned Australian
artists). Mike works in pyrography on leather. In addition, he
has developed a new technique for producing limited edition prints
of his pyrographs directly onto canvas. (This technique will
soon be available to other pyros.) Mike is also setting up an
arts school in Ballarat for street kids.
Denise Needham of Hoppers Crossing, is in the process of producing her own instructional
video, designed primarily to assist and encourage beginners in
pyrography. A key exhibitor in the Pyromania '96 exhibition in
Melbourne, Denise is known for her pyrography on table tops and
Jan Crawford from Bairnsdale,
recent winner of prestigious awards at the '97 Royal Canberra
Show's inaugural Pyrography category, she is co-manager of the
Woodheap Gallery at Bruthen.
Ross Minor of Canada, a
newcomer to Mixo's website, but with over 2,500 works of art
to his credit, definitely not a newcomer to pyrography.
Thanks to artist Sharon Garvey for her thoughtfulness
and special effort to take many of the photos of antique pyrography
for this article and the e-museum, with a special thanks to the
remarkable Anna North Coit of North Stonington, CT, who facilitated
Sharon's visit to the historical society there where the gracious
nonagenarian is still a very active and vital member of the community.
Thanks to pyrographer Sheri Hopping Myron
who provided the quotes from the magazines, and for her assitance
researching some of the questions raised in this article.
Burning Passion by Carole and Richard Smyth is a delightful
and very informative book aimed especially at collectors of American
turn-of-the-century pyrography. It even includes a helpful price
guide to aid beginning collectors in their quest of what the
authors term, "the last great American antique collectible."
Whether you plan to collect antique American pyrography from
the turn of the century or not, it is a worthwhile reference
to add to your library. According to one chain bookstore, this
book is out of print; however, The Burning Passion, Antique
and Collectible Pyrography, is still available through the
authors themselves. Send a check or money order for $19.95 plus
$3.00 shipping to Carole Smyth Antiques, P.O. Box 2068, Huntington,
NY 11743. (You'll need to add 8.5 percent sales tax if you're
a New York resident.)
A worthwhile reference book for your collection
is a lovely work on turn-of-the-century Australian pyrography,
quoted on page one of this article and cited once before in this
series. It is Australian Poker Work, A Guide, by Helena
Walsh. (A source for this book in the United States is Jim Widess
at The Caning Shop.)
Bob Boyer's book, The Amazing Art of Pyrography,
comes highly recommended. Despite a certain unevenness in textual
content and obvious commercial intent, this is, nevertheless,
a very comprehensive work and a laudable effort. Bob Boyer has
done something here that no one has done before in the way of
works on pyrography. His is a large, hard-cover book that attempts
to expose the reader to pyrography of every kind imaginable and
includes generous portions of "how to" information
as well. Anyone interested in this art form will want to own
this book, which you will undoubtedly see cited here again in
the future as we look at still more types of pyrography.
Do you remember Howard Finster, the folk artist
who works in pyrography? (He was featured in the May 1997 issue
WWWoodc@rvers E-Zine.) Look for his salon in the E-Museum
of Pyrographic Art in the Traditional and Folk Art Hall.
His family has now put up The
Official Howard Finster Website to sell his work, souvenirs,
and other folk art by Finster family members. This link will
take you directly to the art work.
Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology, and History, Lima, Peru
is where the mate cup was found. Text is in Spanish.
Thanks to The Boulder
Museum of History for the photos of their recently acquired
pyrographic kit dating from the beginning of this century.
If you're in Colorado, stop by and see the historic Harbeck-Bergheim
House displaying Boulder's history from the conquest of the American
West to the beginning of the space-age. This museum is part of
the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries (CARL) and has many
of its photos digitized for access by patrons from across the
nation. It is located at 1206 Euclid Avenue, Boulder, Colorado
80302-7224, tel. (303) 449-3464.
Essay by Claudio Cavatrunci
of the National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography--known as
the Pigorini Museum for its founder Luigi Pigorini (1842-1925)--on
civilization of Peru. Text is in Italian. (Note that on the
homepage of this website there is an English language version
available on the history of the museum itself.)
This site contains several
beautiful examples of period antiques, including the remarkable
piece with pyroengraved ivory (shown on the first page of this
article) from the collection of The
Estevez Museum of Argentina. Text is in Spanish.
Russian pyrography can be found in the little Russian dacha museum
on the estate of the late Marjorie Merriweather-Post in Washington,
This website illustrates
a curious piece of Victorian furniture--a conversation piece
chair-table with some very nice pyroengraving. It is a query
from someone who owns this chair to an antiques
appraiser and the advice of the appraiser.
This website is an antiques
catalogue and the piece you should look at here is a Viennese
sewing table (catalogue number 495) dated at between 1820
and 1830 and adorned in poker work. These early nineteenth century
pieces of poker art are very rare.
Still another place on this same website,
this time showing, catalogue number 482, an Austrian
sofa and chair, part of a set of sofa and six chairs, upholstered
on walnut frame with poker work, c. 1820. Again, these are pieces
you won't often see.
Another website with a
query, this time from someone who owns a settee with Flemish
Art to an antiques
appraiser and the advice of the appraiser.
Same website with another query to the same
appraiser, this time from someone who owns a box with Flemish
Yes, it's really a photo of Dino--standing next to his lifesize
pyrograph of horses!
Look for his work in the E-Museum
of Pyrographic Art in the Portraits and Paintings Hall.
His website has once again been updated with some significant
new work. His custom humidors
are now being displayed at a specialty site, linked here, in
addition to his own.
Pyrographer Kathleen M.
Garvey Menendez learned her pyrography techniques in Guatemala.
Her sister, Artist Sharon H. Garvey later joined her there
to form their company Pyrographics,
and collaborate on a pyrography project designed to promote
this art form in the United States with the help of the Navarro
Pyrocarver--the pyrographic tool Kathleen represents.
This is the beginning of her second year writing articles for
the WWWoodc@rvers E-Zine. She is immensely pleased that, thanks
to a most gratifying year discovering so much pyrography and
meeting so many talented pyro-artists through the internet, the
e-museum of pyrographic art has been made possible.
©1997 Kathleen M. Garvey Menendez
thanks to Bimsan
Back to Page 1, Antique
Pyrography A Look Into the Past of
the Art of "Pyr," Just How Old Is This Ancient Art,
Far and Wide As Well
Back to Page 2, Antique
Pyrography The Advent of the Ladies
Magazines, That Marvelous Invention--The Victorian Pyrographic
Kit!, The Factories
to E-Zine Table of Contents