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Drawing With Fire: Pyrography by Julie Bender

Pyrography is the art of drawing with fire; using a heated tip or wire to burn or scorch designs onto natural surfaces such as wood and leather. Pyrography was practiced since the dawn of recorded time by Egyptian and African tribesmen fascinated by the mysterious beauty and power of fire. Modern day pyrography is typically done with solid-point tools, which resemble but are more sophisticated than soldering irons or hot wire tools. These tools are electrically heated by equipment that may allow temperatures to be adjusted, thereby producing a great range of natural tones and shades. Subtle or bold effects may be achieved, depending on many factors, including heat, pressure, type of wood or surface, and tool tips used.

Atlanta-based artist Julie Bender’s technique is to use tools that allow her flexibility to develop her unique style. Inspired by animals and nature, her process begins by compiling inspiring photographs and penciling in her subjects on a well-sanded maple surface with a keen sense of composition and attention to wood grain. Light-handed strokes and smooth, subtle shading using very tiny tips to attain detail in each work of art characterizes her technique. When it comes to pyrography, Julie considers herself a purist. The wood and grain she uses is selected carefully for best composition and aesthetics.












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