- Irene Corgiat and the Shroud of Turin
- Michael Janson on Pyro and Computer Graphics
- Jim Hicks--Portraiture in Pyrography and Chalk
- Michael Mabbott--Solar Pyroengraving
American pyrographic artist Jim Hicks says he has drawn off and on for many
years; however, it was about 1996 when he started practicing woodburning
because of a huge oval woodburning of James Dean he saw on a visit to
"It impressed me so much that I knew that was what I wanted to learn to do."
Above is a recent work by Jim Hicks, who has his own webpage Wood Art 211 which
he dedicated to our own Sue Walters "who took the time to
encourage me to keep burning." Sue Walters encouraged me a
lot." he explained, "She responded to an entry I put in her
guestbook....I felt much better about my woodburning after that."
His work is now also being displayed in the Jim Hicks Salon in the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art.
The Elvis portrait above is surely one of Jim's earlier woodburnings.
His ability in portraiture is excellent, evident as well in his fine
drawings, which are also displayed on his website (by removing the
suffix 'pyro' from the end of the web address). But the piece of
laminated wood he used was not the best choice for this type of work,
which he no doubt realized and rectified for his future projects.
Jim's style is fresh and appealing. He captures the spirit of his subjects when he works in portraiture. Even with animals, like the pup in the following image, there is an expression that comes from within that he portrays for us.
Tool. Jim has always used a simple woodburner with a single tip
for all of his work.
Wood. His wood of choice is Basswood.
Technique. Jim's unusual and very effective technique consists of (a lot of natural talent and) using white chalk to highlight his pyrographic works. "The range of tones in pyrography seems to be endless, " Jim says, "from the lightest brown to the darkest black, and with white chalk and colored pencil, the sky is the limit."
Jim says that his favorite subjects are animals and women who are
"bigger than life" like Reba McIntyre and Marilyn
When looking at Jim Hick's work, one is immediately drawn to his use of light and shadow. His unique use of pyrography and chalk together allows him to give his figures a life that is often missing in portraiture. He describes his technique as quite simple and yet his final products are far from amateur. After observing a fair amount of portrait artists, I am always surprised to see the ingenuity each artist is able to bring to the genre.
Michael Mabbott at Work in Kelowna
New IAPA member from Kelowna, B.C., Canada is pyrographic artist Michael Mabbott, who says, "I began this unusual skill in
1983 in the city park here in Kelowna, British Columbia where most of us
grew up. It is the very place where I saw my friend Brian Schank
burning a piece of walnut to attach to the front of a cash register
drawer. When I asked Brian to teach me, he replied, 'I can teach you
nothing. I can show you, and you must teach yourself.' So..."
In the past 20 years, Michael has spent a lot of time in that park, where he can usually count on finding his friend Brian, too. Michael has been photographed there on four occasions for the local newspaper. And tourists and other visitors to the park have taken his picture there on countless occasions as well.
During all that time, at home and on travel, Michael has only come across a few other solar burners like himself.
Tool. Michael Mabbott's tool is a large magnifying glass and
sunlight. Because of the climate in Canada, naturally his art work is
only a summer endeavor for him. Michael says that from his friend Brian
he learned that the discovery of curved glass goes back to somewhere
around 6000 to 5000 B.C. and is attributed to the nomadic tribes of the
Sahara who used it as a way to make fire thereby eliminating the
necessity of carrying live embers from one camp site to the next. From
his own research Michael learned that around 4000 B.C., it was the
Egyptians who refined the process that is the model for today's
Woods. Brian started Michael off with scrap soft woods like cedar and pine. Later Michael worked with laminated knotty pine and red oak until 1999, when he started using the 1-inch-thick white oak he now prefers.
Painting and Finishing. After burning his art work onto the wood panel, Michael handpainted his last three (Celtic) works with three coats of high gloss enamel, and finished them with five coats of varathane front and back, a 600-grit wet sanding, and a wax polish.
According to Michael, the technique of solar burning presents inherent
threats to safety, for which it is essential to take precautions.
Besides packing your project and magnifying glass when you go out to do
solar burning, be sure and take along your SP40 or above sunblock lotion
and sunglasses offering 100% UV protection.
He related an incident from his personal experience when he was using "a pair of glasses that 'said' they were 100% UV protected. Within twenty minutes, I was flat on my back out on my mom's driveway, blind as a bat. It's called eyeburn, it's extremely dangerous, and can cause temporary or permanent blindness."
Michael says that most people do not realize that sunlight and a magnifying glass together are a tool. He says that it's in "looking at the bead these two produce that does the harm." He cautions that when looking for appropriate sunglasses, to consult a professional welder if you have any doubt about the effectiveness of the product. He recently located some #3 amber welder's glasses, which he recommends.
"It took twenty minutes to cause eyeburn," Michael warns, "and cost me four days of exceptionally ugly pain between my temples that was unlike anything that could be described in words; as well as wondering whether I'd ever see the blue sky again since the doctor had to come to the house cause any light was detrimental to my healing, and movement was not fun."
Michael Mabbott at Work in Kelowna
Until now, showing his work has always been from the city park in
Kelowna for Michael Mabbott. His work in the park has always attracted
tourists and provided a means for him to sell his work at the same time.
Like many artists, Michael has come to that point in his life and his
art when he would like to explore other options and actually make a
successful living doing what he loves to do.
Near term plans include putting his art work in a photo album on line and developing an idea he has to produce a video aimed primarily at 6th and 7th grade children to teach them this work and a host of life skills at the same time.
The Cozy Hearth
Home is where the heart is...
Click here to go back to page one
Click here to go back to page two
The AuthorKathleen 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 seventh year of articles on pyrography for the Woodcarver Online Magazine (WOM), started January 1997, and the sixth 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.
2003, Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.