Known in Victorian times as Pokerwork (because a red hot poker was used!) Pyrography is the art or craft of decorating wood or leather with heated tools. These days modern technology has brought us the Pyrograph or Pyrography Machine (known in the US as a Woodburner). These are mains powered, easy to use and you don't need an open fire any more! The example of Stephenson's Rocket above was done on a Janik Sycamore plaque by Terry Leveritt of Form Crafts. (Please note the design is copyright).
Pyrography is as easy or as difficult as you want to make it. Many just use it as a means of adding a name to a product to personalize it. The most popular products are eggcups, keyring/pendant/brooches and name plates but almost any wood or leather object can be personalized in this way. Woodturners or cabinet makers often burn their name or initials into their latest masterpieces. Special "brands" can be made to reduce the skill involved or to speed up the process if many objects need to be burned. Wood carvers use pyrography to burn feathers or other details onto birds and animals.

Pyrography is also popular as a way to decorate objects so that they become mini "works of art" which make great gifts. You do not necessarily need to be an artist to do this. Indeed very few pyrographers burn directly onto the object, but first make a faint pencil sketch onto which they burn subsequently. Any pencil lines showing can be easily rubbed out afterwards. There are many aids to doing this. One is to use a good quality wax free transfer paper such as Saral to transfer a design from any flat surface to the wood. Another is to use an iron-on transfer (they are available in books) and a third is to use an overhead projector such as the KopyKake. All these items are available from Janik or your local Craft Supplier.

Before taking up this fascinating hobby why not read Stephen Pooles highly acclaimed book "The Complete Pyrography" or Janik's "Introduction to Pyrography" by Stuart Grainger. Janik have also produced a successful Video featuring Stephen Poole called simply "Pyrography". On the website we now have the acclaimed pyrographer Linda Fellows' worksheets to read and download.