Like many burn artists, I’ve been anxiously awaiting Pyrography, a special annual magazine by the good folks at Fox Chapel, who bring so many quality publications for artists and artisans. It finally arrived at our department store (Fred Meyer), and I greedily snatched up one of five copies there, wondering if I should buy them all up and sell the extras on the black-market to pay for a few more pyro machine accessories. (I did not.)

Pyrography woodburning donwhite
Those of us who have grown accustomed to this annual, wishfully wonder when it will become a bi-annual publication. In a digital world of dwindling sales for hard copy magazines, this one seems to be bucking the trend, and for good reason. It should come as no surprise that those with a passion for real world fine arts and crafts would want a hard copy in their hands, pages open wide, to gently guide them on their tabletop projects, with the earthy aroma of smoke rising from their favorite pyro tools.

First of all – get out and buy a copy. A wise $10 investment for budding and veteran burn artists (buy it at the store, and avoid the shipping from Fox Chapel). If you’re waffling about the purchase, here are a few reasons to buy this edition. Along with the beautiful photos of art we’ve come to expect from this magazine, and the great artist profiles, there is always an abundance of technical help and project ideas. I’ll highlight two of each as among the best in this issue:

2 technical articles: 

“Hair,” by Jo Schwartz (page 52). Jo is a familiar face in this magazine (for good reason), and her four-page article about how to render hair on wood excels in both its step by step explanations and fantastic photos. Audrey Hepburn never looked more beautiful, and is a perfect model here for Jo’s techniques. This article should entice many to purchase her book on Woodburning Realistic People. 

“How to Fight Fading,” by Lora Irish (page 50). Knowing this article would be included was a big reason I eagerly anticipated this edition. Veteran burn artists have seen the cruelties of time upon their earliest work – fine details lost, and subtle shading rendered unseeable. There is good information about this on the internet, but I believed Lora would write the definitive word on the subject, and she did not disappoint. Many of us have learned to “burn darker” to compensate for future fading, but what wood species best resists discoloration? Which finishes should you use? How should you prepare the wood? Why does discoloration happen in the first place? You’ll have to buy the magazine to find out. 

2 project articles: 

“Home Sweet Home,” by Deborah Pompano (page 76). If you’ve wondered how to use those beautiful rectangular basswood boards with natural bark edges, Deborah will amaze you with her creative answer. She shows how to burn your own creative frame onto a blank board, making it just as much a part of the artwork as the central image. Don’t let her intricate details scare you. Her clear pattern and instructions will guide you into a piece you'll be proud of.

“Penguin Embrace,” by Susan Robey (page 83). I love this project for many reasons: the simplicity of design, the subtle emotion, the accessibility for any level of burner, and the clever use of three dimensional design using egg-shaped wood available at most any good craft stores. Even if beginners don’t use the advanced techniques Susan applies on this piece, they can still easily come away with a finished piece they can gladly display or present as a gift.

In case you can't make it to the newsstand to get your copy of Pyrography 2018 (or if they're sold out), you can still orders copies directly from Fox Chapel Publishing by clicking on this link. As with their previous issues, it’s easily worth the cost. Congratulations -- and thank you -- to editor Mindy Kinsey (and the rest of the team) for another valuable issue.

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