Art Camp Day 9 – August 11

Art camp! Art camp! Claudia McGill is at Art Camp Claudia McGill! Art camp! Art camp! (These are the words to our camp song, in case you would like to know…not much of a song but it gets the point across.)

Today the topic was – woodburning. Or pyrography, as it is also called.

I have a little woodburning set but have never used it – my husband did, when he made a sign for my garden. I’ve held on to it, thinking of childhood memories of woodburning projects, but not until today did I get to it.

Before I tried it out (after decades apart, I felt the technique and I needed to re-acquaint ourselves) I got a couple of books from the library on the topic. They depicted a very pictorial approach to the medium – shading and realism and that kind of thing. I had a more rustic view of woodburning projects – a sign for Art Camp Claudia McGill to put over the entrance? but really, I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do. I really didn’t want to purchase a wooden blank of some kind, box, plaque, etc., and decorate it. And I didn’t want to make a sign for camp, either, to tell the truth…

So when I set to work today, I was still confused as to what I’d be making. But I got a piece of scrap wood and fired up the woodburning tool. Though it came with several points (including an Exacto knife attachment that would allow you to cut plastic stencils) I stuck with the standard point; I think it is referred to as a chisel point.

Woodburning tools 8-16 small

I practiced on the scrap wood and got the hang of things pretty quickly. Let me tell you, that little tool heats up fast and furious. It’s necessary to move slowly over the wood, and the longer you linger in one spot, the deeper and thicker the line. The varied surfaces on the point also allowed me to make different marks. I also recommend working in a well-ventilated room – the process creates a bit of smoke.

I liked the look of things, but I needed a project. Then – I thought of – stick ladies.

You may remember my painted stick ladies, made from wood picked up on my walks. Luckily, I had a pile of prepared sticks ready to go. I grabbed some and got to work.

In each case, I started with the nose and created the face. It gave me a good starting point.

Woodburned lady in process 8-16 small

I made a nice little group of ladies. Each one is plain on the back with her features on the front. I also tried to used fatter sticks, as it gave a better surface to work with.

I will make more of these ladies. Since I had a hard time getting started, I didn’t have the opportunity to do as many as I would have liked – they are addictive, once you get going.

So, the woodburning set is a success. And just as much fun as I remember from about 50 years ago.

19 thoughts on “Art Camp Day 9 – August 11

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Well, I stretch a bit when I say, our library – we have a county-wide system of which our library is a part, and I can go on the computer and order books. Like Amazon, but free. They arrive at my branch and I go pick them up. When I do poetry marathons if I say I’ve been to a public library, it is one in our system. I also have a card for the Philadelphia system but use it for downloading audio books, mostly. Libraries are big here, underfunded and working hard, but people support them.

  1. memadtwo

    I can’t believe the stuff my mother let us do in the basement, unsupervised. Chemistry sets, woodburning, model rockets…I had one of these as a child too. You put it to a perfect use! (K)

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      We were the same way. We lived out in the country; Our version was wandering sometimes as far as ten miles away from home (we rode our bikes), exploring fields (ones with fences or crops off limits); creeks with snakes, and so on. My father would cut boat shapes out of lumber for us and we’d woodburn detail on them, and then sail them in creeks.

  2. Laura (PA Pict)

    These are such a joy, Claudia! I love seeing them as a collection, a fun group of characterful ladies. I’ve never tried wood burning but I remember the aroma from my grandad doing it during my childhood.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Yes, I have heard the whispering noises from the work table where I have set them for the moment. I only hope they are saying nice things about me. I worry.

  3. afarawayhome

    Oh I love these, so full of character and joy. How big are they? In my mind they could be like totem poles.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you so much! No, they are small. Only about 6″ to about 10″. I pick up the sticks in the woods, clean them, and dry them over time. Then decorate. I like making figurines of all kinds.

  4. Martha Bush

    What a grand way to start my Monday! Claudia MaGill art camp. Super! Delightful! Fun! For some reason I had not seen the earlier posts. Wow! Claudia, I will say it again: you astound me with your playful, free, beautiful self!! Go, Claudia!

  5. Elusive Trope

    …and when future archaeologists uncover these relics, the world’s understanding of 21st century culture will be turned upside down. 😉

    does bring back the memories of childhood and my wood burning set. I don’t know about now, but I used to enjoy the smell it made. I used to just use it to doodle on scrap wood. Now you’ve got me thinking about trying it again.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Yes. I’m enjoying adding to the future’s understanding of our time!!! I did wood burning as a child and I felt I’d gone back in time with this project. I also love the smell. And I definitely plan to try more things- one idea leads to another.

  6. Pingback: Stick Ladies Update | Claudia McGill and Her Art World

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