Tag Archives: wood burning

Refreshing an Older Piece

I’ve had one bowl that I have taken from show to show. It just wont sell. Similar pieces have sold, but this bowl just wont budge. When I’m brutally honest with my critique, I would have to say that it is probably because the design wasn’t executed very well. It was one of my earliest pieces. The lines weren’t consistent.

After much consideration, I decided to sand off the finish and give it a refresh. I redid the simple key design around the rim and added a stylized bird in the center. The old design is on the left, new on the right.

Key Before After CKester

What do you think?

Well, back to work for me. Part 2 of my Tools, Tips, and Safety series will be coming soon.

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Tools, Tips, and Safety – Part 1

Safety

WorkSpace_Ckester

My Work Space

My work space is a table in my living room in front of a window. I have two small kids at home, so I do my best to make sure any smoke from the burning doesn’t stick around. I have a box fan in the window that blows outward. I also use a Gourd Master Woodburning Buddy, which you can find here. It pulls the smoke away from the project and filters it. If it is really too cold outside to have the window open, I will use just the Buddy.

WorkSpace2_Ckester

My final safety measure is my mask. I know it looks like overkill, but wood smoke is not healthy. I only have one set of lungs. My husband calls me Darth Vader when I’m wearing the mask.

Mask_CKester

Even with all of these precautions, there are some surfaces you should avoid burning. Anything with plastic is dangerous. You should also be very careful with anything that has a finish on it. Pressure treated wood and MDF (medium density fiber board) are also not good to burn on. Plywood is ok, but make sure you don’t burn deep enough to get to the glue.

The Sawdust Connection has a pretty good article about safety that you can find here. They include a list of woods that can cause allergic, toxic, infectious, or respiratory reactions.

That’s a lot to consider. So what do I burn on?

Basswood – This is probably the best in terms of smoothness of grain. I recommend this above all others for beginners.

Beech -The bowls that I burn on are, for the most part, made from beech. It’s a pretty hard wood and the grain doesn’t cause too much trouble. The light color works well for wood burning

Pine – Definitely not my favorite. It has a tendency to gum up my tips.

Maple – I like the lightness and the grain is fairly easy to work with.

Cherry – I’ve worked with this wood twice and loved the results.

Italian Poplar Plywood – I’m currently trying this one out. So far the burn is smooth.

Oak – This one can be challenging. It is a hard wood and takes longer to get the burn I want. Pyrography takes patience. Burning on oak requires even more.

Gourds – They take a burn really well, though I’ve noticed they dirty my tips faster than wood (other than pine). They take a long time to dry and clean, but you can also purchase them pre dried and washed.

Part 2 will focus on the tools you need for woodburning.

Baby Steps or Giant Leaps

I’m starting to emerge from my creative break. It is still a challenge to balance art and caring for my little ones, but I’m getting there. My biggest break through was realizing that it doesn’t matter if I only work for five minutes at a time. I meant to ease back into it, but I seem to have taken a giant leap. So far, I’ve started roughly 10 new pieces.

Here are a few of the ones I’ve recently finished.

LizardSpoon2015_Ckester1 OakNapkin_CKester1 PoppySpoon_Ckester_3

The Fox

My eldest son has been a little obsessed with foxes lately. So I decided to do something special for him last Christmas. He caught me working on it before it was finished, but I let him believe it was for the business.

FoxWalkthrough_CKester

Fox walk-through – Christina Kester-Tallman

 

It was fun working with watercolor again. My son was really happy with the finished painting.

My current project is a new sign for my display at craft shows. I’m using a 12 x 24 inch Italian poplar plywood board. Here’s a peek at my current progress.

20150106_12260520150107_105234

 

Update 10/19/2014

A lot has changed in the past year. I have slowed down on the production of art. It’s been harder to find time to fit it in with this new addition to my life.

Fire Oak Studio New Addition

Currently I am working on two bowls that are a collaboration with Ken Gadway. He turned the bowls and I am doing the pyrography art on them. All of the artwork is original, hand drawn and burned. I’m very exited about the project. I’m planning on debuting the bowls on October 23rd at the Artists Supporting ARC show. Ken will be selling one of the bowls and I will be selling the other.

Here is a peek at them –

Fire Oak Studio Winter WIP Fire Oak Studio Odin's Bowl WIP Closeup Fire Oak Studio WIP Closeup Fire Oak Studio Odins Bowl WIP

Christmas Ornaments

I’ve already had people asking about my hand burned Christmas ornaments. I really have to start working on these earlier next year. I haven’t been able to list many online because I can’t keep them in stock locally. The good news is that I just received a large supply of wood slices to keep up with the demand. this year the types of wood include birch, maple, cedar, apple, linden, and a few more that I don’t have definite identification of. I’m also looking in to adding key chains to what I sell. 

Here are a couple of pictures of some of my ornaments (and a spoon) in progress.

OrnamentsWIP_CKester OrnamentsWIP2_CKester

 

Update 2/9/13

After my holiday shows, I was in a bit of an art slump. Things have picked up a little recently. I am working on some character concept designs for a story I may or may not get to writing. It is good practice for drawing people even if I never finish the writing part.

Melora hairstyles_CKester2

I’ve prepped two more letters (J and K) for my long time Celtic Tree Alphabet project.

Here are some of my commissions, gifts, and new pieces that I can post now that the holidays are over –

A private commission –

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

A gift –

Some new pieces (all sold except the bear) –

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

copyright Christina Kester

Update 11/1/2012

Fall is my busy time of year. All of my big craft shows are in the fall. It leaves me with little time for anything else and as such I have neglected my blog. Never fear, I am still here and still plugging away at my art.

I finished my giant bowl just in time for the Artist Supporting ARC show last week. I think it turned out pretty well.

copyright 2012 Christina Kester

I’m currently working on upping my holiday ornament stock for upcoming shows. I have the SUNY Plattsburgh Craft show this weekend. It is one of the bigger shows in the area and was a good venue for me last year.  Here are some recent magnets, ornaments and a square bowl in progress.

 

In my spare time, I have also been working on my digital painting skills.  One of my goals for improvement earlier this year was to work on more dynamic figures and backgrounds. The following two sketches are a start to that.  For the first, I referenced stock photos by Chonastock on Deviant art for the pose. The second sketch was inspired by Brom.

copyright 2012 Christina Kester

 

copyright 2012 Christina Kester

 

On the workbench

The farmers market is turning out to be a decent venue for my wares. So far my coasters are turning out to be fairly popular. Having said that, I am going to try to take my coasters in a slightly different direction by combining wood and cork. The coasters will come in sets of 6 with a matching box to keep them in.

Also, the fall craft shows and the holidays are right around the corner so I am working hard to up my inventory. I have more ornaments, magnets, pendants, bowls, frames, and spoons in stock and ready for burning.

 

 

The Making of a Bowl

I often get asked how long it takes me to finish a piece. It really depends on the design and the method I am using, but pyrography is a time-consuming craft. It takes a steady hand and a lot of patience. With a normal day job and a young child, it takes longer.

Take this bowl for example

I have been working on it, when my schedule allows, since the end of last year. It is a large bowl, 15 inches. It took me probably 2 hours just to draw the inside of the bowl and 1.5 hours to draw the design on the outside of the bowl. After drawing in pencil, I go over my lines with my pyrography tool. for most lines I use a writing tip.

This goes quicker than the original drawing, but it still takes a while. All together it was probably 1-2 hours. Next, I make adjustments to the lines, making some thicker than others. Then comes the really time-consuming part. Shading. It involves burning layer by layer. To avoid burning to deep or getting an undesired darkness, I keep the temp fairly low and just build up the burn.

I have put in another 6 hours of shading and I am nearly done with all of the inside designs. I still have the knotwork on the outside to shade, so there is probably another 6-8 hours of work left to do.  But because my larger pieces are slower sales, I have to find time between working on magnets, tiles, and pendants.  Here’s my current progress –