Woodburning art has been around for years and seems to get a fresh touch with each new generation of crafters. I got a renewed interest in woodburning for garden art projects after reading Garden Made—a wonderful new book filled with nature-inspired crafts and projects.
You can find more nature-inspired craft ideas here.
Bursting with Inspiration
I’ve long admired Stephanie Rose and her creative blog, Garden Therapy and I’m very pleased to say I’ve gone from fangirl to friend.
Garden Made is Stephanie’s first book and it is packed with all of the creative delightfulness and garden-licious goodness she infuses into everything she does.
by Stephanie Rose
40 down-to-earth ideas for inspired garden crafts, including containers, handmade gifts, outdoor lighting, holiday decorations, and more.
Woodburning is just one of many different arts/crafts in the book. I intend to try lots of them and hope you will too.
Two projects in Garden Made involving woodburning pens are twig garden markers and Christmas tree ornaments, making use of trimmed branches small tree trunks (sliced into disks, just waiting to be crafted on). Hint: it’s very enjoyable!
To get started, I decided to get familiar with the woodburner tool first to see how it works.
Woodburning tools behave a bit differently on each type of wood. If you want the markings to show up nicely, choose wood that is light in colour. From there, be aware that the amount of sap in the wood plus the strength of the grain can influence how the wood burns. It doesn’t mean you can’t work with a variety of woods: it just means you should probably test things out first to get a feel for how hard to press and how long to burn (it’s seconds, at most).
- Woodburning tool/pen
Most pens come with a couple of different tips (providing various textures and effects). I got a very basic one with an on/off switch and stand.
The tips screw into the pen. To change tips, turn the pen off, and use pliers to change the tip (they get very hot), then let it heat up again.
- Alphabet letter tips (optional)
Make sure you get ones that fit your woodburning pen (get the same brand).
I tried scraps of pine and spruce as well as paint stir sticks (I’m not sure what type of wood they are).
All of them worked fine. The pine does give a bit of pushback with the wood grain and the sap in soft woods can cause uneven results. No big deal for me.
In Garden Made, Stephanie uses twigs and branches and they look really good.
The woodburning tool gets very hot and radiates a fair amount of heat. I found I didn’t need hand protection for quick work but I definitely did for more time-consuming drawing as the heat from the tool would radiate to my hand.
- Tile and Tape
Most woodburning pens come with a small stand. You’ll want to secure this stand to a flame-proof surface. I used duct tape and a scrap of floor tile.
- Design Ideas
I am a doodler so I just drew ideas by hand (with a pencil) and then etched them with the tool.
You could also find ideas online. Print out a basic outlined design and transfer it to the wood with carbon paper.
Learning to Burn
The woodburning tool heats up in about 4 minutes and it’s ready to go.
I rate this hobby as enjoyable and easy. But you can’t rush it. Burning the wood evenly takes a steady hand and consistent speed, running the tip along the wood. And it does give up tiny poofs of smoke now and then. I mean, we are burning wood after all.
The alphabet letter tips work very nicely but you have to plan things out. I used strips of painter’s tape to mark the letter locations. And, to avoid changing the tip so often, I made sure to do any repeat letters in the same batch.
Also, if your wood surface is uneven, you may have to rock the alphabet tip gently back and forth to get the entire letter to burn. Admittedly, I don’t mind the unevenness. I actually prefer a slightly quirky look which is lucky since I am rather good at the quirk. (lol)
And that’s it. It’s all ready for displaying in the garden.
I hope this gives you an idea of how woodburning works. As mentioned, it’s just one of 40 different creative projects in Garden Made.