The Burning Post

The Burning Post

Hello Pyrographers!

It’s been a while since I sent out a Burning Post Newsletter due to personal reasons—the death of my mother-in-law and my mother’s dementia. Needless to say, life can really take control of your plans and I had to take time away from everything to regroup.
But I’m back now and ready to talk BURNING… Several things are coming in the near future that I want you to know about so you don’t miss out.

Michele Parsons


Hot Point # 2: Go for the Contrast

Have your ever noticed that certain pyrographic burned artwork really grabs your attention? One of the reasons this can happen is when the image has a lot of tonal contrast—meaning the image has a dynamic range of light and darktones (shades of the brown color that burning creates).

To achieve this dramatic effect, select a reference picture that displays a dynamic range of tones from black to white. Next identify the lightest lights and the darkest darks in your reference picture before you start.

The lightest lights will have no burning on them. The darkest darks will be burned as black as you can get the burn on your medium. Every other tone will be in between these two extremes.

If you are new to translating the tones on your reference picture to your pyrography project, I recommend that you do two things:

  1. Print your reference picture in grayscale (shades of black and white) or in sepia (shades of brown that are close to pyrography burning results).

  2. Create a tonal scale—a scale of tones that range from your darkest burn to no burn in incremental steps.

To make a 10-step tonal scale:

Note: Wood is used as the example here, but these instructions will work for any pyrography medium.

Cut a piece of the same wood you will be using to burn your project. Draw a linear series of ten (10) adjacent squares, at least ½” each, next to the wood’s edge. Mark the squares 1-10.

10-Step Tonal Scale

Your scale can be filled in to match the shading technique you will be using on your project, whether using flat shading with a Shader pen,* stippling (dotting) with a Writer pen, scribbling with a Writer pen, or using a hatch/crosshatching technique with a Skew pen.

  • The first square # 1 will be left unburned. This is your lightest light.

  • Fill the last square # 10 with the darkest burn you can create without overburning (scorching the unburned wood next to the square).

  • Next fill square # 2 with the lightest burn you can achieve.

  • Next fill square # 3 with a little darker burn than square # 2. And so, on until you fill square # 9. It’s better to make very small incremental changes to darken each square as you are filling them to leave room for adjusting the tones once you reach square # 9. It’s always easier to adjust your scale and burn your squares a little darker if you get to square # 9 and decide that it’s too big of a tonal change between squares # 9 and # 10.

To use a tonal scale:

Hold the tonal scale you created next to each object or area in the drawing and determine which numbered square on the scale matches the closest to that object/area. Then burn that object/area on your project to match darkness of the corresponding square on the scale.

If you are working with a color photograph or drawing, you need to determine the matching value on the tonal scale to the color. The easiest way to do this is to squint your eyes by closing them so you can only see a slight amount of light and the objects you are look at are out of focus. While squinting your eyes, slide the scale next to the colored object and decide which square on the tonal scale blends the best with its value.
*See videos on pen categories    


Join Us for a Pyrography Demonstration by Doug Stainbrook,
June 1, 2024 at Klingspor’s Woodworking Shop, Hickory, 2:00-4:00 pm

Born in Northwest Pennsylvania in 1968, I was always an artistic child; constantly sketching with paper and pencils. From there I moved into oil painting and then to artistic metal engraving for many years.

In 2017 I decided I was ready to try something completely new. I did a lot of research and decided to take a class in pyrography in Townsend, TN with master pyrographer, Michele Parsons. I was instantly hooked! I have been burning nonstop ever since..

In 2021 my wife and I relocated from North Alabama, where we lived for 20+ years, to Baneberry, Tennessee where the opportunities to share my art have exploded!

Wait, What?! Big News for Pyrographers…!

The Southeastern Pyrography Association will be partnering with the Catawba Valley Wood Carvers’ woodcarving competition to host the first show ever (to our knowledge and research) that will allow pyrography on different mediums. The show will be held this October at the Klingspor’s Woodworking Shop’s Extravaganza. Categories will include Wood, Leather, Paper, Gourds, and Miscellaneous (cork, bones, artist mushrooms, tagua nuts, etc.). There will be big cash prizes. Stay tuned for details…

SEPA @ STEM TREK in Hickory

Klingspor’s Woodworking Shop asked the clubs they host to demonstrate and provide hands-on activities at the April 20th STEM TREK Event at the SALT Block in Hickory, NC. SEPA (Southeastern Pyrography Association) attended and worked with over 60 children to let them try their hand at woodburning. The kids loved it and we had a good time providing materials and assistance to our possible future club members! SEPA set up stations that went from picking out age-appropriate patterns that they transferred onto wood blocks, 10 woodburning stations, and a pencil coloring station to complete their masterpieces.

SEPA @ Klingspor’s Grand Reopening Event

SEPA (Southeastern Pyrography Association) attended Klingspor’s Woodworking Shop’s Grand Reopening Event on May 3rd and 4th in Hickory, NC. Klingspor’s store has expanded to a 20,000 sq. ft. space with a large space for meeting and classrooms. if you haven’t been by to see the expanded store with lots of pyrography equipment, it’s worth putting it on your bucket list!

A few of the winners of donated pyrography door prizes

Charlotte Woodcarving Show April 26-28th

As in years past, Klingspor’s Woodworking Shop attended the Charlotte Woodcarving Show as one of their supporting vendors. They stocked carving and pyrography equipment and supplies. The Charlotte Woodcarving Show is known as one of the largest carving shows in the Southeast. Michele Parsons demonstrated pyrography at Klingspor’s booth, as well as gave a free class in one of the extra rooms on Adding Color to Pyrography. 

Upcoming Classes

Build Your Skills Faster by Taking an In-Person Class

Michele Parsons will be teaching the following classes local classes:

Learn To Burn

Learn To Burn - Learn the basics of woodburning

Saturday, August 17th from 9:30am - 4:30pm
Instructor: Michele Parsons

This class is designed for students who have never touched a woodburner, as well as students that have experience and wish to improve their skills.

Do not worry if you are not an artist! Michele will teach you how to transfer a pattern and burn it. Basic information about woodburning is covered, including: safety, wood selection and preparation, equipment selection and care, burning techniques with different types of pens, transferring patterns, correcting mistakes, adding color and finishes, and you’ll use the basic pens to practice woodburning techniques. Then you will burn your first pyrography project.

Note to interested woodcarvers/woodworkers: This class will teach you woodburning skills that are best to master on a flat surface before you start woodburning round/carved pieces.

To register for class call Klingspor’s Woodworking Shop (828) 326-9663
For questions about the class contact Michele at:
Class Cost: $130 paid to Klingspor’s Woodworking Shop
(includes materials, handouts, and pattern) 10% Discount to Southeastern Pyrography Assoc (SEPA) members (current or enrolled by class)
Class Size:12
Equipment: Wire-Tip Woodburner and Tips* (Download); Can reserve loaner equipment (no charge)

Download Class Information

Learn To Burn

Learn To Burn - Portraits

Saturday, June 29th 9:30am – 4:30pm and Sunday, june 30th 1:00 – 4:30pm
Instructor: Michele Parsons

This class is designed for students with some basic experience with woodburning that want to learn to burn portraits. Do not worry if you are not an artist, Michele will teach you how to transfer a pattern to burn a portrait. We will review which tools to use, common measurements, modifications to capture the subject’s likeness, and portrait shading.

Equipment: Wire-Tip Woodburner and Tips* (see below); Can reserve loaner equipment (no charge)
Prerequisites: Some basic woodburning experience

To register for class call Klingspor’s Woodworking Shop (828) 326-9663

For questions about the class contact Michele at:
Class Cost: $190 paid to Klingspor’s Woodworking Shop (includes materials, handouts, and pattern)
10% Discount to Southeastern Pyrography Assoc (SEPA) members (current or enrolled by class)
Class Size:12

Download Class Information

Burn and Sew a Leather Journal

Burn and Sew a Leather Journal

Sunday-Saturday, November 3-9, 2024
John C Campbell Folk School (Brasstown, NC)

Instructor: Michele Parsons is a professional pyrography artist and author for Fox Chapel Publishing's Pyrography magazine, Leather Pyrography book (also translated into German), Quick-Start Woodburning Guide, and a contributor to the Big Book of Pyrography Projects. She has been teaching pyrography for over 18 years, including venues such as the International Wood-carving Congress, John C. Campbell Folk School, Southeastern Woodcarving School, American Woodcarving School, and various regional clubs.

Register at

Using a Tonal Scale

May 28th 2024

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