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by Kathleen Menéndez

Pyrography News From Around the World

Newsletter No. 18, Page Two of Three

Pyro Kaleidoscope


Page One:
Adriano Colangelo: Fantasy Themes

Page Two:
José Pelegrina-Vissepo: Indigenous Peoples of the Americas
Diógenes Giorlandino Turns His Talents to Pyrography on Gourds

Page Three:
Vadim Grozavu: Photorealism
Book Review: Gourd Pyrography by Jim Widess
Mystery Corner: Another Ball Hughes Pyrograph?
Mark Hale: From His Workshop

José Pelegrina-Vissepo: Indigenous Peoples of the Americas

Zuni Woman with Jug
by José Pelegrina-Vissepo
After an 1896 photograph by Edward S. Curtis

Pyrography on Wood Panel of Mahogany from Puerto Rico,
about 24 inches high

Image courtesy of the artist

Puerto Rican José Pelegrina-Vissepo has been working in pyrography for fifteen years. For even longer, he has held a fascination for the peoples who populated the Americas before the arrival of Europeans. He said that when as a boy he would see films about cowboys and Indians on TV, he always identified with the Indians and wanted to learn more about them. He felt the same about the Taíno Indians who once inhabited Puerto Rico but who had long ago disappeared altogether.

The inspiration for José's stunning rendering of the Zuni Woman with Jug shown in the image above and in the detail below came from an 1896 photograph by Edward S. Curtis, who persevered relentlessly through a remarkable 30-year project that began in 1900 to photograph the indigenous peoples of the 48 United States, Alaska, and Canada. The Zuni link is to a website with some Curtis photographs and his own writings about the Zuni. An excellent article about E. S. Curtis is linked to his name above.

Zuni Woman with Jug, detail
by José Pelegrina-Vissepo
After an 1896 photograph by Edward S. Curtis

Pyrography on Wood Panel of Mahogany from Puerto Rico,
about 24 inches high

Image courtesy of the artist

Technical Aspects

José talked about how he achieved such dramatic results. First of all, he emphasized that the work was done totally with pyrography alone. The reddish tones, he explained came from the Puerto Rican mahogany that he used. The pyrographic tool he used and has been using for ten years is a Detail Master, Sabre model. For the black background he used a butane gas blowtorch.

José's use of the two different methods in this masterpiece of his produced another interesting effect that added to the drama. When he sealed the piece with his customary polyurethane spray, the background, which had been done with a blowtorch, absorbed the sealer and remained matte, while the figure took on a subtle shine.

Working as a Couple

José and his wife Enith work as partners
in an enterprise that is more commercially viable for them.
Besides José's work in portraiture,
he and Enith together do some pieces that are popular
with tourists. José designed two charming pieces
with a whimsical Puerto Rican twist.
One is of the Three Kings,
a popular theme in Puerto Rico;
the other is the Don Quijote seen here.
Enith also does her own designs.

José does the pyrography on the pieces
and Enith colors them. Next,
José does the shading that is his specialty.
Then, together they sell them, mostly at craft fairs.

José and Enith Pelegrina are not
the only couple working as a team
doing pyrographic works.
Some time ago, we saw works by gourd artists
Linda and Opie O'Brien.

In the future, we will meet more couples
who combine their talents as these two couples do.

Don Quixote
by José and Enith Pelegrina

Pyrography and color on wood

Image courtesy of the artists


His interest in Indian themes motivated José to participate in 1991 in the Powhatan Renape Nation's 8th Juried Indian Art Festival, which took place in Rancocas, New Jersey (U.S.A.). José's pyrograph of a mother and child of the Yanomami Indians of Venezuela won him a second prize and the opportunity for his work to be displayed in a traveling exhibit.

Last year José was chosen as one of 45 Master Craftsmen representing the 45th anniversary of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. And in March of this year, he received a letter telling him that he was one of the Master Craftsmen chosen for this year's poster series, sponsored by one of the government's agencies that relates to the island's craftsmen.

Although he doesn't as yet have a website, José has more works exhibited in the José Pelegrina-Vissepo Salon in the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art.

Preparing Lunch
by José Pelegrina-Vissepo

Pyrography on wood panel

Image courtesy of the artist

Closing Thoughts

In his 15 years working in pyrography, José has come to be considered the best pyrographic artist in Puerto Rico. He is gratified to know that those who are following in his footsteps will understand pyrography as an art form as he does. Until he found the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art on the internet, José said that he had never known other pyro artists working in this medium at the art level.

One of his goals is to become known outside of Puerto Rico, then be able to exchange ideas and expertise with other pyro artists and be able to introduce other Puerto Rican artists to what there is outside of Puerto Rico.

"My work," José says, "has always been mostly portraits. I'm very into the human expression and feelings."

Diógenes Giorlandino Turns His Talents
to Pyrography on Gourds

Lighted Gourd
by Diógenes Giorlandino

Pyrography and color on gourd with scroll work

Image courtesy of the artist

Despite some difficult times in recent months in his native Argentina, decorative artist Diógenes Giorlandino has been diligently working away. He has put aside for the time being his extraordinary work in pyrography on wood, which we saw in an earlier Pyrograffiti in WOM. Instead he has been experimenting--and evidently mastering--his latest undertaking, which is working in pyrography on gourds. Obviously delighted with this new material, he has many fine examples in various styles to show for his efforts, three of which are here for you to enjoy.

by Diógenes Giorlandino

Pyrography and color on gourd

Image courtesy of the artist

"Diógenes reappears"

"Diógenes reaparece" was the subject line on his email to me after some months without news. They were months during which Argentina was embroiled in political and economic turmoil, so those words brought even more delight than usual and the attached pictures of his latest works still more. Although discouraged, Diógenes has not only 'weathered the storm' so far but is starting to get enthused about a new project proposed by some good friends in Spain, who have offered to show his work there in Barcelona.

by Diógenes Giorlandino

Pyrography on gourd

Image courtesy of the artist

'Gourd' luck, Diógenes. We wish you all the best in your new endeavor. . .

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2002, Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.