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by Kathleen Menéndez

Pyrography News From Around the World

Newsletter No. 19, Page Three of Three


Page One:
- Dino Muradian: A Project Unfolding

Page Two:
- Dino Muradian: Varied Themes
- Book Review: Step-by-Step Pyrography Projects
for the Solid Point Machine
by Norma Gregory
- Sue Walter's Newsletter--Smokin'!

Page Three:
- From Spain: FFerdezO
- Tom Schulz: Update From Alaska
- Remembering September 11th

From Spain: FFerdezO

San Pedro from Alameda
by FFerdezO, 2000

Pyrography and watercolor on watercolor paper

Image courtesy of the artist

FFerdezO is the pseudonym for Francisco Fernández Osuna of Spain. FFerdezO lives in Carmona, a small city west of Seville in the southern province of Andalucia. He has exhibited his works not only in Carmona but in the larger cities of Seville and Badajoz as well.

A self taught artist, FFerdezO started doing pyrography on wood panels in 1973. His first project was an ambitious Last Supper.

FFerdezO does not make his living from his pyrographic art. For a long period of time, the demands of his profession as a technical architect superceded his desire to continue his pyrography. Since his gradual return to his art work in recent years, FFerdezO's themes of choice have come to be landscapes, cityscapes, and abstracts. His inclination towards architecture is manifest in the striking abstract that follows.

Abstract No. 1
by FFerdezO, 2000

Pyrography and colored pencils on watercolor paper

Image courtesy of the artist

Technical Aspects

Probably for lack of technical instruction in this medium, FFerdezO decided early on that there were some drawbacks for him in working on wood (particularly issues with finishing and fading), and by 1976 he opted for working on paper instead. He experimented blending colored pencils when he worked on the wood panels, whereas on paper he uses watercolor, albeit sparingly. In the two cityscapes here, notice that only the skies have any color other than pyrographic tonalities.

FFerdezO's approach to his pyrography is a technique analogous to another one he uses--an India ink technique he refers to as the "aguada." That technique consists of diluting India ink with water and applying it to a drawing through a simple process of first adding a lot of water to the ink to achieve the lightest tones, then progressively adding ink and removing water each time defining areas with slightly darker tones until finally getting to the areas with the maximum dark tones. The last step uses only undiluted India ink to create interesting chiaoroscuro effects defining in the shiny black ink the elements of the painting with delicate precision.

Narrow Street in San Felipe
by FFerdezO, 2000

Pyrography and watercolor on watercolor paper

Image courtesy of the artist

Until now, FFerdezO has been using a solid point pyrography tool and only one point--the universal point. At this time, he is considering the purchase of a tool with temperature control and wire tips in the hope of expanding his technique.

His technique in pyrography parallels the "aguada" technique described above; that is, he burns in distinct intensities going from lighter tonalities to darker. As a careful look at the cityscapes will reveal, FFerdezO applies the burning by means of irregular spots of shading (but not pointillism per se) to suggest shapes without actually drawing outlines to define the elements.

FferdezO remembers that, although he has always drawn in pencil and ink, his interest in pyrography was sparked when he observed his drawing professor trying out a pyro tool he had been sent along with other equipment and drawing materials. From that point on, the medium interested FferdezO, although it was some time after that before he had an opportunity to try it himself.

I will close with FFerdezO's own modest words about himself but only after first saying how highly his works shown here and in his FFerdezO Salon in the E-Museum speak of his artistry for him:

"I do not consider myself an artist so much as a lover of drawing in all of its expressions."

Tom Schulz: Update from Alaska

Tom Schulz and His Daughter Nikki
Holding Their Art Works and Awards

Pyrography on moosehide, oil painting, and mukluks

Image courtesy of the artists

Grand Champions!

This story begins in the March-April 2002 issue of WOM with the Pyrograffiti article segments on the University of Alaska's Historical Pyrography Exhibit and Tom Schulz: In the Spirit of Alaska Today. The first segment gives some history and details about an antique pyrography exhibit in Fairbanks with hundred-year-old moosehides and other burned artefacts from the days of the Gold Rush. The second segment is about Tom Schulz and his life in Alaska working as a pyrographic artist, and, in particular, his connection to the Centennial Gold Rush celebration that took place in Fairbanks this year.

The moosehide above--his first ever--Tom prepared for the centennial celebration in honor of the museum exhibit of moosehides. He later entered it into the Alaska State Fair, where it won the Grand Champion Award in Creative Arts. The icing on the cake was that Tom entered two pieces by his 8-year-old daughter Nikki. The first piece was her first ever oil painting, which won a blue ribbon; the second entry was a pair of handmade mukluks (boots) made of moose and caribou that won Nikki the Junior Grand Champion Award in Native Arts.

As Grand Champion, Tom spent a week demonstrating his pyrography in the artists spotlight booth at the fair. Being together with his little Nikki at the Awards Ceremony was the highlight of it all.

Portrait of Felix Pedro, detail
No. 1-100 of Limited Edition, by Tom Schulz, 2002

Pyrography on Birch wood mounted in a prospector's goldpan

Image courtesy of the artist

Portraits of Felix Pedro of the Alaska Gold Rush

Felix Pedro was the prospector who discovered gold in 1902 thereby sparking the Alaska Gold Rush near what was to become the city of Fairbanks. He was an Italian immigrant from the city of Fanano where he was born in 1858 as Felice Pedroni, the son of a coal miner. He later americanized his name.

Two people played a role in how Felix Pedro's life and luck played out in Alaska. One was E. T. Barnette who exploited the prospector's find by sending out the news of the discovery of gold to bring in business for himself. The other was Mary Doran, an Englishwoman Felix Pedro married and who from some accounts may have been a "gold digger" of the other kind. It seems that history is not clear regarding the end of Felix Pedro's life at the age of 52. There is mystery surrounding the cause of his death and also whether he died in poverty or not.

In the Italian account linked here Felice Pedroni's partner Vincenzo Gambiani doubted the story of his death by natural causes and suspected Mary Doran of foul play. At any rate, she died a wealthy woman and took any secrets to her grave.

Felix Pedro is remembered as a founding father of the city of Fairbanks, where he was president of that mining district. Each year his monument on the Steese Highway outside of Fairbanks is rededicated, and this year 2002, an Italian contingent made the trip from Fanano, Italy to pay tribute to his memory for the Gold Rush Centennial celebration.

Presentation of the Felix Pedro Moosehide
From the Mayor of Fairbanks, Alaska, USA, to the Mayor of Fanano, Italy

Felix Pedro Moosehide by Tom Schulz, 2002

(L to R), Tom Schulz (the artist), Alessandro Corsini (Mayor of Fanano),
Andrea Pedroni (interpretor and descendant of Felix Pedro),
and Steve Thompson (Mayor of Fairbanks).

Image courtesy of the artist

Meeting the Mayors and Descendants of Felix Pedro

While working on his first award winning moosehide, Tom Schulz had the inspiration to do a similar one featuring a portrait of Felix Pedro. He set about doing his moosehide, which he planned to donate to the city of Fairbanks as a commemorative art work to give as a present to the city of Fanano.

He also decided to do a limited edition of one hundred pyrographic portraits in Birch (see detail of the portrait above) of the man who started the Alaska Gold Rush and he set each portrait in a prospector's goldpan (see following image below). Number one was to be given to the Mayor of Fanano and number 100 to the Mayor of Fairbanks to commemorate the historical occasion.

Tom Schulz and Giuseppe Lenti
Posing at the Fairbanks Monument to Felix Pedro
Giuseppe Lenti (a descendant of Felix Pedro) Is Holding
the Goldpan Portrait of Felix Pedro by Tom Schulz

Image courtesy of Tom Schulz

Tom Schulz to Visit Felix Pedro's Hometown of Fanano

Not only did Tom have the pleasure of meeting the mayors of both cities and the descendants of Felix Pedro, Mayor Alessandro Corsini of Fanano, who had presented the city of Fairbanks with a statue to commemorate the centennial, was so pleased with Tom's pyrographic representation of the Italian who found gold in Alaska a hundred years ago, that he personally extended an invitation to Tom to come to Fanano in a year's time to participate in the International Sculptors Symposium. Fanano has become a remarkable sort of museum unto itself, since the symposium is an annual event bringing artists from many countries to reside and work there for a couple of months and then leave there in Fanano the fruits of their labors.

Tom will have the honor of demonstrating his moosehide pyrography there for the symposium and he will be able to see personally his own moosehide of Felix Pedro (Felice Pedroni) hanging in the 8th century building (originally a monastery) that is Fanano's Town Hall.

Look for new images in the Tom Schulz salon of the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art with additional links to newspaper articles about Tom.

To learn more details of Tom's work and techniques, see Sue Walter's latest newsletter (#3) . Click on www.suewalters.com linked here, to sign up.

Congratulations to Tom Schulz and Nikki. Next year no doubt we'll have a new chapter to add to the story that just keeps getting better.

Remembering September 11th
by Nedra Denison, September 2002

Pyrography on wood

Image courtesy of the artist

Let there be peace on Earth...

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The Author

Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez learned her pyrography techniques in Guatemala in 1975-1977. 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 sixth year of articles on pyrography for the Woodcarver Online Magazine (WOM), started January 1997, and the fifth year 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 by IAPA Co-founder Mixo Sydenham of Australia for IAPA members.

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