A Note on Shading

Pyrography is a fun and rewarding craft, for the most part. One aspect however can be quite frustrating; shading.

I decided to set about fire writing with no outside help or previous knowledge, favouring the trial and error method to learn the techniques, so right off the bat I had a problem with shading.

I’m using a very basic pyrography tool with interchangeable nibs, just a plug in and go type that cost around 20 pounds. It doesn’t have a heat control function or anything fancy, so I don’t yet know if that would make shading any easier.

I’ve discovered that shading can be done in several ways but the key point here is not to let the nib linger on the wood. Quick, flicking motions create shaded areas, but doing that will leave a darker blob where the nib first touches down to the wood.

To minimise this start the flicking motion in the air above the surface and touch down lightly once in motion. This, however, is very difficult, especially in smaller areas confined by bold lines. A metal ruler can aid you here to prevent going over border lines.

The method I’ve had most success with is swirling the nib round and round very fast in tight, small circles in the area needing shading. As you’d expect, though, this takes a long time to shade large areas, and you may find your concentration wandering and the shading circles getting larger and larger, leaving the area less shaded than when you began.

Conversely the opposite can also happen, and areas will become darker than they ought to be, so keep an eye on the entire area and stay focussed.

You may also find blowing steadily on the nib, or working outside helps to cool the end down and minimise the darker burn marks.

Good luck x