The history of pyrography is that of an art that originated in prehistory.

Early man documented their lives in pictures – as has man throughout the ages.

Drawing was the first method that man used to tell stories and communicate. After the important discovery of fire, it did not take long for the early form of “wood burning” to be invented.

Follow us through the remarkable history about wood burning art and its development, as well as the different and evolving tools over the ages. That this art form has stood the test of time is a testament to its durability and charm.

This ancient art form is very much alive today, with beautiful and decorative products being created at home and on a commercial scale worldwide.

The Long History of Pyrography

History Of Pyrography

Pyrography history shows us that by using the charcoal that remained from their fires; early man discovered they could create patterns, designs, and drawings on their walls.

The natural progression of man’s intuition aided their progression from using stone tools and progressing to metal much later.

First, they discovered that scraping off the burnt black surface allowed the underlying natural wood to show through. Ancient pyrography had begun – albeit back to front.

This inspired the creation of designs and patterns in a different form.

History Of Pyrography Through The Ages

Unfortunately, the above method did not create permanent works of art. Much later in man’s evolution in technology – the employment of metal implements began.

This meant that basic pyrography tools were now able to be manufactured. When looking back into the history of pyrography, you will find antique pyrography permanent artworks burnt onto leather, wood, and even bone.

Using heated metal objects directly from the fire to burn their preferred medium meant permanent art was created.

This very simple, but effective method was in use until Medieval times.

History Of Pyrography Tools: Pyrography Art As We Know It Today

The wood burning history of pyrography kept in step with man as he progressed throughout the ages, with wood burning techniques too.

Interesting and beautiful artifacts have been found in Peru and Roman Britain, dating back to before the 1st century. These patterns and designs were intricately created by master craftsmen.

Pokerwork: The First Modern Wood Burning Tools

With the progression of time over the centuries, particularly the Medieval, Renaissance, and Victorian eras, wood burning became a more and more popular pastime.

A medieval pyrography wood burning toolkit during these eras consisted of a portable pot or stove. There were a number of holes made in the lid or stovetop.

These allowed pointed pokers of varying shaped “nibs” to be inserted and heated in the hot coals placed inside. The pokers or rods would tend to cool off quickly while they were being used.

As a result, several pokers were required in order to keep the momentum of work going. It was slow work, with the heat of the pokers varying greatly, making it difficult to control.

This method of early wood burning was called “pokerwork”.

Pyrography History

From Hand Heated Pokers To Electric Wood Burning Tools

The progression of “pokerwork” eventually moved from being a hobby or pastime for the wealthy to providing jobs for local craftsmen to larger commercial endeavors.

The movement happened with the invention of the first wood burning tool or machine. This was the start of electric wood burning art.

Victorian Pyrography

This is when Victorian pyrography came to the fore. Art in general increased in popularity in the latter part of the 19th century, with pyrography included in the rising interest.

The Victorian era spanned the years 1837 to 1901 (Queen Victoria’s reign).  And it was in the Victorian era when the term “pyrography” first appeared.

Victorian Pyrography
Arts & Crafts Pyrography Six-Sided Taboret c1905. Courtesy of

A new method of pyrography is thought to have been devised by an Australian architect by the name of Alfred Smart. This device quickly spread over Europe, and finally to America.

This was only after electricity was common and the industrial revolution was well on its way.

Today there are many brands and manufacturers producing pyrography tools and accessories for wood burning enthusiasts who keep this ancient art alive and well.

Now artists of all ages, talents, genres and skill levels enjoy and create burning art all over the world.

If you are interested, join them and find the enjoyment they get from creating natural products that will last and bring joy for many years.

Wood Burning History

The history of wood burning has a long and exciting past and has brought pleasure to both the creators and the beneficiaries of this long established art form.

The intricacies of vintage pyrography is certainly an inspiration and shows what intricate and beautiful work can be achieved.

We do hope that by visiting this website you may decide to take up pyrography art and create some beautiful designs.