Pyrography (literally, “fire-writing”) is an ancient art whose earliest examples go back well over 1000 years in places like Africa and South America. Early artists used sharp red-hot instruments to decorate everyday household objects, musical instruments, and other wooden items.

Artist and pyrographic historian Kathleen Melendez has documented the use of pyrography as a mental health therapy. The pace of the art, and the meditative concentration it requires, make it ideal to encourage relaxation, focus, and ease stress.

Though people often refer to the art as “woodburning,” today’s artists are burning images onto antlers and bone, paper, gourds, and even leather. It’s best to use the terms “pyrography” or “burn-art” to describe the images created by fire and the artist’s imagination.

When many hear of woodburning, they often think of scratched outlines of sailboats from childhood art kits using soldering iron styled tools. There are now many reputable brands of pyrographic instruments today that are far more sophisticated than those primitive kits, attracting serious artists and illustrators around the globe.

A pair of drafthorses.