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by Kathleen Menéndez

Pyrography News From Around the World

Newsletter No. 28, Page Two of Three


Page One:
Leah Comerford: Through Rose Colored Glasses

Page Two:
Jan Farrar: Pooch Portraits
Bob Boyer: New Internet Free Art School
Jim Widess: New Gadgets for Gourds
David Wickenden's 9/11 Proposal

Page Three:
Peter Drewett: Homage to Joan Kerr
Sharon H. Garvey: Calligraphy for a Crucifix

Jan Farrar: Pooch Portraits

by Jan Farrar

Pyrography on wood

Image courtesy of the artist

Dog Trainer by Avocation

British pyrographic artist Jan Farrar resides in West Yorkshire. Jan was always a dog lover but never had any dogs as a child; however, she certainly made up for it once she had the chance. Up until recently when, because of health problems, she has had to slow down, she was keeping five dogs of various types. One of these is Jake, shown in the image above.

Jan was not available for a second interview but Sue Burne recounted the following about her dear friend, whom she has gotten to know quite well through the UKPyros chat room:

"Jan has lived on her own for some time but her beloved five dogs were her 'children'. Before disability made it impossible for her to work, she worked in an office, but she was also a qualified and experienced dog trainer and judge.

One of her own dogs was trained as a helper dog. Robbie could pick things up for Jan and do a lot of little things to help her. Her tiny miniature poodle Dodi used to do his best to copy and used to rush to be first to pick up dropped pencils, etc.!!!" Before her plans were interrupted, Jan had started to train Jake as Robbie's eventual replacement.

Jan Farrar

Original photograph courtesy of Peg Wood

Combining Interests

Jan had been working with dogs already for many years when in September 2001 she discovered a new passion in pyrographic art. Motivated by her love for her many dogs, she started applying her newfound art form to the creation of portraits of them.

Jan ultimately chose the Optima pyro tool to work with and notes that the variable temperature control gives her 'a wider choice of depth of the burn'. Although she enjoys combining her love for animals with her pyrography, she points out that it does take patience. She says that an average dog portrait of 8 inches by 10 inches can take her up to 20 hours to complete. Because she burns each hair individually, it takes her longer to do some, depending on their type of coat. And the color of their coats can determine whether she renders their portraits in pyroengraving alone or adds color.

by Jan Farrar

Pyrography on wood

Image courtesy of the artist

Sharing with Kindred Spirits

Jan has been one of the more active on-line participants at the IAPA message board, and enjoys very much the exchange of information and the sense of community she finds there and with another group, the lively UKPyros where she and Sue Burne became friends. Jan's sweet nature and sense of fairness, added to her enthusiasm for the topic, make her a greatly valued member at IAPA. She can facilitate the group through the inevitable rough spots and can gently steer the conversation back to pyrography.

Jan particularly mentioned the inspiration, encouragement, and expert advice she has received since the outset from two pyrographic artists who, like her, love doing pyrographs of animals: Sue Walters of Australia and Lynda Eaves of Canada.

by Jan Farrar

Pyrography on wood

Image courtesy of the artist

Closing Notes

It has just been a little over two years since Jan Farrar started trying out pyrography. In that short time, she not only learned the technique, but showed a real talent for doing animal portraits. And not only does she do portraits of her own dogs for her own pleasure, she does more to sell at shows and on the internet. In addition, she has accepted commissions, working from photographs of her clients' cherished pets.

In the short time that she has been doing pyrographic art and animal portraits, Jan has established a significant internet presence for herself as well. Her works can be viewed at the Janik site at www.pyrography.co.uk and Pyro Pets at www.dogdom.freeserve.co.uk/pyropets as well as her own on-line photo album.

In her portraits, Jan Farrar has achieved more than a likeness--she has captured the soul of her subjects.

Bob Boyer: New Internet Free Art School

Bob Boyer
As shown on his new website Free Art School

Bob Boyer has recently inaugurated a new website Free Art School. "In the first phase," he says, "we are offering everything on pyrography."

The website www.freeartschool.com like his well known and still popular book The Amazing Art of Pyrography published some years ago, starts off with his History of Pyrography, Pyrographic Equipment (with explanations of the pen functions of the Detail Master pyro tool that he has been promoting for many years), and Pyrographic Techniques. (The first lesson--on how to detail bird feathers--is ready to view. He also shows a new pyrographic art form he calls "ImaginArt." "This can be interesting to the more inventive artist," Bob says. In addition, he shows how he uses pyrographic pens to create scraper (scratch) art.) The Free Art School website is still under construction, but it's all set up to offer Creativity, Best of Email, and Other Art Forms in the near future.

Jim Widess: New Gourd Gadgets

Gourd Drill™

Image courtesy of Jim Widess, The Caning Shop

Gourd Saw™

Image courtesy of Jim Widess, The Caning Shop

Transfer Tip

This tip is an attachment for the pyrotool called the Hot Tool.
It is a teflon coated, slightly rounded tip
that works as an aid in transfering heat-set 'ink'
from photocopier and laser-printed copies.
Print out the design, turn the copy over onto a gourd,
and rub the back of the design with the heated Transfer Tip.

Image courtesy of Jim Widess, The Caning Shop

Gourds are indeed one of nature's wonders. Like wood, they offer functionality and utility. Like wood, they are both beautiful unto themselves and appealing as an inspiration and a naturally sculptural substrate for artistic expression. Their ever growing popularity is not hard to understand.

Tools especially for working on and with those unusual, unpredictable curved surfaces were bound to come along with that popularity. And two brand new ones--the Gourd Drill™ and the Gourd Saw™--have just arrived for that purpose. Also shown above is a third item that looks as though it might come in handy for some kinds of pattern transferring--the Hot Tool Transfer Tip.

I had been wondering what sorts of things one might use to create some of those curious effects artists have so much fun thinking up for this little marvel of the vegetable world. When I learned of the two new gadgets that Jim Widess is offering, I decided to go check out some of the possibilities and was astonished to find how many gadgets and gizmos were available at his website The Caning Shop to help gourd artists work with this curious gift of nature that is the gourd. Click on the link and see for yourself.

David Wickenden's 9/11 Proposal

Model of the proposed 9/11 memorial
by David Wickenden

Image courtesy of the artist

An Idea Was Sparked

As a Canadian firefighter, it is more than understandable why David Wickenden would be moved to create a pyrographic memorial to the firefighters, police, and victims who fell to the terrorist attacks of what has come to be called 9/11. Nevertheless, it must have been an enormously difficult decision. It was a huge commitment to do something he'd never tried before--to submit a formal proposal for a major monument in a worldwide competition. He designed various components--The Wall, The Pentagon, The Tower Footprints, and The Final Resting Place--for the Pentagon and the World Trade Center North and South Towers. The project was designed with many interactive elements. He wrote, "The most important component of this proposal is the Wall."

This project was a gargantuan undertaking. Keep in mind that David is a family man and a firefighter, so all of this had to be done in his 'free time'. Relive David's effort through his process, interspersed with his comments, which are recorded in detail on his own website Northern Illusions at www.northernillusions.com. Here are some excerpts from it:

"As with anyone else who witnessed the tragic events surrounding 911 and the WTC, we can remember precisely what we were doing at the moment we first heard about the attacks. For David, he was playing with his three month old son, Daniel when instead of "Barney" on television, he was greeted by the mind numbing images of September 11, 2001.

"Watching the towers fall, I knew instinctively that many of my fire fighter brothers had perished under the rubble and the idea for a memorial was sparked."

"Over the next year, David sent his proposal to business and government officials trying to get some feedback and/or sponsorship. In the Spring of 2003, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation announced the world wide competition for the 911 Memorial and following a strict set of rules and guidelines David began to put his ideas on paper. During this time, his wife Gina would give birth to their son, Ian David on May 6th and both Gina and the baby would be in a motor vehicle accident which would see Gina in a leg cast. David would work on his proposal in between feedings, taking care of Gina, Adam, Daniel and Ian, house cleaning."

"It was the most exhausting and stressful time of my life, but was I alive!"

"Although, he was unsuccessful with his proposal, David sees this work as his most important to date. It has taught him the importance of detail and of presentation detail. The pictures . . . cover approximately 1/3 of a sheet of birch plywood. David plans to continue with the project."

Merged Burnings
by David Wickenden

Pyroengraving on birch plywood

Image courtesy of the artist


Ironically, although David's 9/11 Proposal did not meet with success, he has been offered a large commission to do 20 historic panels for two churches that are merging. Look for that story in a future Pyrograffiti.

As this article goes to press, another horrific terrorist attack has just taken place--this time in Spain.

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2004, Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.