Playing with Fire
Local artist creates art with fire
Writing with fire, or pyrography, sounds like something straight out of Harry Potter, but it’s actually an artistic medium–and it’s one at which multi-media artist ANDREA PATE excels. A master at decorating wood with burn marks, Pate creates pieces that both awe and delight.
“Pyrography, also known as woodburning, is a rewarding art form,” Pate says. “It’s a unique way to present your art and set you apart from other artists.”
Art has always been a part of Pate’s life, and she won a scholarship to study it at Gordon State College in Georgia. A constant student, Pate continued to add new art forms to her repertoire after college. She is an illustrator who also works with clay, graphite, pencil, and watercolor. However, it was when Pate tried pyrography that she found her element.
“I went to the store, picked up the pen, and I haven’t put it down,” she says.
The pen in question is a pyrographer’s pen, which Pate uses to burn illustrations or images into wood. Though Pate occasionally traces an image onto the wood first, she usually works freehand and burns her drawings directly into the wood. Occasionally Pate also uses different media such as paint, pencil, or resin to add color to her pyrographic pieces.
Pyrography is not without its challenges. Unlike with paper, the artist has to deal with the grains in the wood when burning an illustration into it. Also, harder woods are more difficult to work with, and the pyrographers must make sure the wood isn’t too dark. Over time wood darkens, and the burn marks fade into the wood, Pate says.
Pate creates commercial and decorative pieces with pyrography. For businesses, Page makes pyrographic logos, tag lines, and signage. Her decorative pyrographic pieces include Lazy Susans, signs with cute or heartwarming adages, coasters, serving trays, platters, and wall hangings. Each piece is unique and custom-made.
Pate’s pyrography, whether depicting people, animals, foliage, or inanimate objects, is highly detailed and astoundingly realistic. Pate prefers making images of nature, and now that she lives by the beach many of her creations reflect that.
“I love doing the details of animals,” Pate says. “With animals you can have fun. There’s nothing holding you back. You can embellish all the details, the imperfections. It’s those small details that bring the image to life.”
It isn’t only the satisfaction of creating pyrographic works that draws Pate to the art form. She also finds pyrography relaxing. Working with the pyrography pen and wood is meditative in itself, Pate says. A bonus is the sweet smell of sap that surrounds her while burning an image into the wood.
“It’s almost therapeutic,” she adds.
Pate sells her work at local shops, craft fairs, Hobby Lobby, and on Amazon. She also partners with Truart to teach beginning pyrography online.
Pate gets immense satisfaction both from performing pyrography and because it has expanded her artistic horizons.
“Pyrography helped me broaden my artistic abilities and grow as an artist,” she says. “I learned more techniques and I’ve gotten better as I’ve gained experience doing it. It’s opened a lot of doors for me.”
To view more of photographer Daria Amato’s work, go to dariaphoto.com
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