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by Kathleen Menéndez

Pyrography News From Around the World

Newsletter No. 30, Page Three of Three


Page One:
- Introducing Susan M. Millis, Artist and Conservator
-- First the Discovery of Fire . . . Art
-- Art, History, and Conservation Intertwined
-- Inspiration from History
-- A Gallery Artist on a Quest
-- The 1990s and an Avant-Garde Inspiration
-- Formal Studies
-- Fading: The Problem Defined
-- Further Research at The Pinto Collection

Page Two:
- The Pinto Collection: Important 19th C. Pyrographic Artists
- Antique Works in Private Collections
-- 19th C. Artist Ralph Marshall
-- Robert Ball Hughes (1806-1868)
--- Studying an Unsigned Ball Hughes Work
--- More Works by Ball Hughes Emerge
---- Babylonian Lions
---- General Grant Proclaiming the Surrender of Richmond
---- The Last Lucifer Match
---- The Monk
- Final Notes
- References and Related Items of Interest

Page Three:
- Maria Luisa Grimani: "A Tree's Tale"
- From Sao Paulo, Adriano Colangelo Lectures on Art and Life
- Review of a New Book by Daniel Wright
- For Halloween: Tim Rahman's The Witch's Secret

Maria Luisa Grimani: "A Tree's Tale"

Maria Luisa Grimani
posing at an earlier exhibition of her works

Pyrographic collages on wood and more

Image courtesy of the artist

"A Tree's Tale"

From 20-27 June this summer, Multimedia Italian artist Maria Luisa Grimani was honored at the Italia Nostra civic center in Monza Park, with a special exhibit "L'albero racconta"--"A Tree's Tale"--of her works on wood and her art books, including one called Radice (pronounced RAH-dee-chay, it means Root). The gala opening reception on the 20th included harp music by Elena Cordublas and readings from four of Maria Luisa's favorite authors, most notably Italo Calvino, whose work The Invisible City was the catalyst for her series of pyroengraved collages on Paulownia wood. On the 26th, Maria Luisa guided a workshop for children and parents.


Handmade Book (Italian edition)

With Original Art Work Cover by Maria Luisa Grimani
Text by Tommaso Correale Santacroce

Pyrography on veneer cut-out

Digital image by Sharon H. Garvey

The Inspiration For Her Works on Wood

Maria Luisa's book Radice is a touching story from her own childhood about her favorite tree, a large walnut tree she used to climb, and how her friendship with that tree affected her work and her philosophy as an adult. It is written for her in the first person by her son Tommaso Correale Santacroce and is illustrated using fragments of reproductions of her pyrographic works on wood, many of which were introduced here in the WOM's January-February 2003 Pyrograffiti and others featured in her Maria Luisa Grimani Salon in the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art.


Handmade Book (English edition)

With Original Art Work Cover by Maria Luisa Grimani
Text by Tommaso Correale Santacroce
Translation to English by Kathleen M. G. Menéndez

Pyrography on veneer cut-out

Digital image by Sharon H. Garvey

Original Art Book

Maria Luisa's book Radice now has an English language edition Root, too. Each book is not only handmade but has its own original pyrographic art collage by Maria Luisa Grimani on the individually done cover (see both examples above).

Visit her website at www.marialuisagrimani.it to see all of her art work, books, and more.

Review of a New Book by Daniel Wright

Introduction to Pyrography: The Art of Woodburning
by Daniel Wright

Image from Search Press

Review of a New Book by Daniel Wright

A new book has come out that is refreshingly free-spirited in its approach to pyrography. British artist Daniel Wright is a young man with an obvious passion for what he does. Published in paperback by Search Press, his well written book offers a good measure of practical, down-to-earth advice and loads of charm and whimsy in works done exclusively in the pyrographic technique. This is not a pattern book but rather an idea book where he reveals the choices he made in creating the significant variety of works that are displayed in full color photographs on all 96 pages. He shows his preliminary sketches, talks about various woods--with additional sections to include driftwood, antique and old woods, and spalted wood--and the benefits of using different ones for different looks. Although the book is mainly about pyrography on wood, Daniel also devotes sections to some gourd and leather works. This book is enjoyable whether you are just thinking about starting pyrography or have been working in this art form for years. You'll revel in the textures and patterns of decorative and applied art.

In the Introduction, I was surprised and delighted to learn about his chance encounter at age eleven with our own IAPA European Director Richard Withers. Here is what Daniel wrote: "My first experience of pyrography was as a child on a family holiday in North Wales. After a week of incessant rain, my family sought refuge in a craft centre at Corris, where I met professional pyrographer Richard Withers. The walls of his unit were lined with dynamic, flamboyant work, and I knew that it was what I wanted to do." By the end of that week, Daniel had his first pyro tool, and he's been doing pyrographic art ever since...

Line work, especially delineating the human face, may not be Daniel's forté but texturing to create dimension and expression definitely is. His innovative, richly textured works are displayed with excellent photographic presentation by Charlotte de la Bédoyère of Search Press Studios.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Introduction to Pyrography: The Art of Woodburning by Daniel Wright is now available at The Caning Shop.

From Sao Paulo, Adriano Colangelo Lectures on Art and Life

Adriano Colangelo's
Conference Publicity Poster

Image courtesy of the artist

An August Conference in Sao Paulo

Readers already know multi-talented IAPA member Adriano Colangelo introduced here in WOM with his pyrographic paintings in Pyrograffiti 18 and revisited recently with his applied art doors in Pyrograffiti 29.

His latest success was the well attended conference announced (in Portuguese) in the poster above. Adriano spoke to a very receptive audience in the auditorium of the brand new Hotel Caesar located in Sao Paulo on Paulist Avenue, Brazil's most famous avenue. His topic was The Integrated Man in a Multimodern Life--New Rhythms, New Solutions; More Than Emotional Balance; Integral Success; Relationships, and more.

Visit Adriano's (multilingual) website at www.adrianocolangelo.com .br.

For Halloween:
Tim Rahman Tells the Story of
The Witch's Secret

The Witch's Secret, View no. 1
by Tim Rahman, 2003

Pyrography and color on carved wood

Image courtesy of the artist

Adding Pyrography to a Sculpture Project

When I saw a couple of pictures of "The Witch's Secret" in Chip Chats Magazine, I knew I wanted to find Tim Rahman to learn what I knew would have to be a funny story in the spirit of Halloween. I wasn't disappointed. In addition, I was fascinated to see the pyrographic detailing on the corset--and how successfully he had achieved the fluidity of movement as the pattern followed the folds in the "cloth" made of wood. I think you'll be as surprised as I was about his experience in pyrography.

Following, in his own words, are Tim's own story and his story of "The Witch's Secret."

My start in pyrography: Actually, I do not consider myself a pyrographer; I am a sculptor using wood as my medium. My first excursion into anything close to pyrography was with "The Witch's Secret" where I needed something more dramatic than paint for the finish. Prior to that I had used my burning pencil only for signing my carvings.

Art background: My art education is in sculpture and is limited to a couple semester classes in a sculpture workshop at the University of Rochester, N.Y. in the early 60s. In fact, I didn't complete my final class carving before I graduated (BS in EE) in 1965 until I ran into it in a storage box in 1994. I had time to re-engage wood carving and have since maintained an involvement with the local club, Spokane Carvers Association, and have gradually moved from novice to expert over the intervening time. Along the way, I took classes taught by Harold Enlow and Desirée Hajny.

The Witch's Secret, detail
by Tim Rahman, 2003

Pyrography on carved wood

Image courtesy of the artist

The Story Behind The Witch's Secret

Inspiration: My carvings are inspired by common objects such as maple bars, umbrellas, work gloves, pickle jars and sea shells; by pictures in magazines; by yard sale finds. When I get an idea, it goes into by notebook under one of the standard competition categories used in the Pacific Northwest shows: Birds, Fish, Mammals, Special, Relief or Northwest Indian style. As I get to the finishing stage with one carving, I start to boil the big list down shorter and shorter until I have my next project. The development of the project can involve several weeks as I research the subject, do a clay model and select the right piece of wood from my storage shed.

Witch's Secret: Several years ago my wife saw a small picture in a magazine (Smithsonian?) of an upright corset with two pumpkins in the bra. "Do you want me to tear it out?" she asked. She is always on the lookout for things to keep me busy. "No need," I replied. "I won't forget that. It would be perfect for the Happiest Halloween carving competition in the local show." I wrote it down as insurance.

A couple years passed before it floated to the top of my "wanna do's." I decided it was time to get the primary model: the corset. The first corset was purchased at a second hand store with no help from either my wife or daughter. I bravely took my find to the counter to check out. The clerk didn't say a word.

Several more months went by as I developed the presentation in my mind. I decided that the corset and pumpkins should be displayed as though the witch had just brought the set home and opened the store box. This would add variety to the carving and make it considerably more stable on the display table, and easier to package for transportation. (I normally travel the Northwest to five different shows each year.)

The next spring, my wife was visiting a very large neighborhood yard sale in Spokane and brought home a much better corset for my model. The die was cast!

The Witch's Secret, View no. 2
by Tim Rahman, 2003

Pyrography and color on carved wood

Image courtesy of the artist

Tools, Techniques, and Finish

Tools: I have a Nibsburner P-1301 that I purchased in 2001 with half a dozen tips for the two pencils.

Carving. Carving took several weeks and involved roughing out the glue-up with various power tools (Arbortech, Foredom) before I got into the hand work with mallet and palm gouges. I sanded more than once to check the shape, then trimmed some more until I was satisfied.

Pyroengraving the pattern. The pattern evolved from the one on the model. The original was basically diagonal banding to give the lace integrity and a simple ornamentation on the vines in a regular pattern. The banding became vines and the ornamentation became pumpkin leaves. I sketched these features on the surface, following the carved folds to keep the look realistic. The "eyes" between the vines simulate the weaving in lace as described above: each eye has approximately 160 touches from the burner. To get inside the large fold near the center, I had to bend the burner tip to a right angle and be VERY CAREFUL not to singe the other side of the fold.

For the "Witch's Secret" I didn't need much finesse or subtlety. My objective was to finish the surface with a pattern that simulated lace with a Halloween design. I set the heat control to 4 and burned away! First the pumpkin leaves, second the vines and finally the lace. After some side experiments, I found that the best look was with a small point tip to create the holes in lace one vertical row at a time with each row offset from the previous one.

Finish. The lace surface is unfinished except for the wood burning and a sealer coat to protect against the inevitable touches from viewers at the shows.

A Prize-Winning Work in Halloween Humor

The Witch's Secret won blue ribbons at each of the five shows she entered, two best of divisions, a Judges' Choice at Quilceda (Best of Expert), and the Happiest Halloween ribbon (voted by public) at Spokane.

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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 eighth year of articles on pyrography for the Woodcarver Online Magazine (WOM), started January 1997, and the seventh 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 for IAPA members by IAPA Cofounder Mixo Sydenham of Warragul, Victoria, Australia.

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