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What finish do you use on a basket illusion?

Bill Boehme

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Bill, thanks for following this. I appreciate your in depth arguments. I'm still waiting for an Optima pen delivery to complete the project, but I think it will be "au naturel" for now.
On a different aspect of basket illusions, I am impressed by your herringbone wraps. Do you use a skew pen for that? I suppose you use a jig (sliced tube or similar) to sketch in the lines? Although not appropriate for this first project, I would like to learn the technique for something later. I suppose it takes quite a lot of practice to dare to use it to finish a project.

On my first few baskets I used epoxy putty with a Saran Wrap barrier to make a template. Now, I draw a line around the top of the rim with the lathe running and then just freehand the upper part of the herringbone. That is sufficient to start the burning. Once started I can complete the lines by eye. I use a Detail Master skew (no longer available) to burn the herringbone pattern as well as doing the shading and other fine detail lines.

I use a Pentel Hi-Polymer eraser to clean up all of the pencil marks.
 
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On my first few baskets I used epoxy putty with a Saran Wrap barrier to make a template. Now, I draw a line around the top of the rim with the lathe running and then just freehand the upper part of the herringbone. That is sufficient to start the burning. Once started I can complete the lines by eye. I use a Detail Master skew (no longer available) to burn the herringbone pattern as well as doing the shading and other fine detail lines.

I use a Pentel Hi-Polymer eraser to clean up all of the pencil marks.
Your work "by eye" is quite impressive!
 
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Sometimes my eyes get crossed and it is necessary take a break while they get back to normal. The other hazard associated with the pyrography is the repetitive details leads to nodding off to sleep and burning yourself. :eek:
So here's a first try by eyeball on a test piece; needs more practice... but from far away it almost... Anyway I didn't burn myself with the skew pen (yet).
DJR_8094.jpg
 
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John, you could use the little metal jig (Foie gras truffé cover) to burn the lines in one pass from one point to another with a different angle.
I did not use that method on my #3, but it will be possible.
I could not load the movie (too large of a file) but I took 3 pictures attached.
 

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John, you could use the little metal jig (Foie gras truffé cover) to burn the lines in one pass from one point to another with a different angle.
I did not use that method on my #3, but it will be possible.
I could not load the movie (too large of a file) but I took 3 pictures attached.
Jean-Louis, thanks. Your photos are really clear, and the template looks neat. I wanted to try this small test piece freehand to get an idea of the problems (a couple more test pieces and I might try to use it). The small lidded box I'm doing will be finished with a simple wrap using an Optima 3/16" pen which is in the mail to me (the herringbone isn't appropriate there). I believe that messed up this herringbone by trying to add some shadowing where the wraps go under, the second burn wasn't precise enough. What surprised me was that the skew flows over the curved surface cleaner than I expected. As you must know, the difficulty for me is obtaining a uniform burn-line when connecting short burns (there I can see the advantage of a template to make a single pass).
Incidentally, I made this piece for my wife to try her hand at coloring. Her question after some work is: is there a neat way to keep from getting color on the "wraps" on the opposite side of a "coil" (down in the crack)? She is using the Superfine (S) nib. Bill mentioned sanding the nib with 400 grit.
 

Bill Boehme

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That's a good start on doing the herringbone pattern. I will try to make some drawings later to illustrate what I feel like is a freehand method that reduces the probability of making mistakes.

I recommend dialing back the temperature of your burner to a much lower setting. That also makes it easier to pick up a line as it wraps around the rim. For doing the fine detail lines I dial the heat down so that the lines are barely visible. I use the side of the skew for shading. For my realistic look shadows need to be subtle so I play with the heat setting to find what works best. You might also consider the more stylized approach to burning the herringbone pattern that many others use. My approach of using low heat means the process will be slowed down considerably, but the results will be neater. My hands aren't as steady as they once were so working slower is a necessity.

I noticed that the beading is burned with a high heat setting. That's probably OK when outlining a pattern that will be inked, but for the bare areas try using a lower setting that leaves a light mark without any smoke.
 
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That's a good start on doing the herringbone pattern. I will try to make some drawings later to illustrate what I feel like is a freehand method that reduces the probability of making mistakes.

I recommend dialing back the temperature of your burner to a much lower setting. That also makes it easier to pick up a line as it wraps around the rim. For doing the fine detail lines I dial the heat down so that the lines are barely visible. I use the side of the skew for shading. For my realistic look shadows need to be subtle so I play with the heat setting to find what works best. You might also consider the more stylized approach to burning the herringbone pattern that many others use. My approach of using low heat means the process will be slowed down considerably, but the results will be neater. My hands aren't as steady as they once were so working slower is a necessity.

I noticed that the beading is burned with a high heat setting. That's probably OK when outlining a pattern that will be inked, but for the bare areas try using a lower setting that leaves a light mark without any smoke.
Bill, thanks for the comment. I will definitely try to lower the setting. I had in fact adjusted it at the same value as I used for the inking wraps (6.5 on my Razortip SK supply; 5.0 doesn't do much, so I suspect the scale is nonlinear in the low end). I did this also on my lidded lime wood box, which makes the wraps which are not colored a little too dark for my taste. I was aiming for a second or so for each burn; when you say "slows down considerably" are we talking about a few seconds per burn or longer? Another practical question, I suspect that the pen temperature varies from time to time, is this normal, or perhaps related to the grain direction?

Note: I've added a photo of the test piece once colored. I think it shows the same problem of too heavy burns on the non-colored "wraps" (for info: there's a knot in the wood under the right-hand red motif).
DJR_8099.jpg
 
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Bill Boehme

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Bill, thanks for the comment. I will definitely try to lower the setting. I had in fact adjusted it at the same value as I used for the inking wraps (6.5 on my Razortip SK supply; 5.0 doesn't do much, so I suspect the scale is nonlinear in the low end). I did this also on my lidded lime wood box, which makes the wraps which are not colored a little too dark for my taste. I was aiming for a second or so for each burn; when you say "slows down considerably" are we talking about a few seconds per burn or longer? Another practical question, I suspect that the pen temperature varies from time to time, is this normal, or perhaps related to the grain direction?

I really like the linear adjustment on my [no longer available] Detail Master burner and the adjustments aren't the least bit touchy. I generally work between the 2 and 5 settings which is about a third of a full circle. I've heard comments that the Optima burner is very good, but I have no first hand experience to confirm that.

EDIT: I spend several seconds on each herringbone line. On the beading marks I do a couple bead marks per second, but it varies considerably depending on wood hardness as I go from side grain to end grain. Also, when I am working really fast the pen temperature will drop and I either slow down or tweak the dial on the burner.
 
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I really like the linear adjustment on my [no longer available] Detail Master burner and the adjustments aren't the least bit touchy. I generally work between the 2 and 5 settings which is about a third of a full circle. I've heard comments that the Optima burner is very good, but I have no first hand experience to confirm that.
Here in France my locally available options were Razortip or Burnmaster. I've ordered pens from PJL OPTIMA, but thought that shipping a power supply over was a bit excessive. I suspect that the low end of the Razortip supply is for wax carving. The temperature drifts may be due to minor line voltage changes. At any rate its a "feature" that I'll need to work around.
 
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I really like the linear adjustment on my [no longer available] Detail Master burner and the adjustments aren't the least bit touchy. I generally work between the 2 and 5 settings which is about a third of a full circle. I've heard comments that the Optima burner is very good, but I have no first hand experience to confirm that.

EDIT: I spend several seconds on each herringbone line. On the beading marks I do a couple bead marks per second, but it varies considerably depending on wood hardness as I go from side grain to end grain. Also, when I am working really fast the pen temperature will drop and I either slow down or tweak the dial on the burner.
Bill, thanks for the info. A second small test piece is underway and I've tired lowering the temperature for the colored wraps; it looks much better. We'll see how the rest goes.
 
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Below is a photo of the second try test piece (2 1/2" diameter) with a lowered temperature (5.5 on the Razortip versus 6.5 previously; where 5.0 doesn't mark). I am much happier with the uncolored wraps. Otherwise, I have not yet added the herringbone motif on the rim, and the coloring needs more skill.
Concerning finishing - I also tested Curtis Fuller's finishing method of Danish oil on the first test piece: this was a disappointment for me. I thought that this would cover my heavy handed burning. The Chestnut brand Finishing Oil sold here as their "version of Danish oil" (which I use a lot on bowls with good results) seems to have caused the Faber-Castell inks to bleed very slightly. The result is a "dirty look" probably from the predominant black ink. Perhaps the oil Curtis uses would be better, but I won't use this again for basket illusions. (Note: the test piece below is "au naturel")
(Edit: I have added a photo of the nearly finished "stylized" herringbone motif; the skew pen was set to 5.0).
DJR_8100.jpg
DJR_8102.jpg
 
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Here in France my locally available options were Razortip or Burnmaster. I've ordered pens from PJL OPTIMA, but thought that shipping a power supply over was a bit excessive. I suspect that the low end of the Razortip supply is for wax carving. The temperature drifts may be due to minor line voltage changes. At any rate its a "feature" that I'll need to work around.
John, another thing to consider is keeping the burning pen clean. After burning for a few minutes a little carbon builds up on the pen. You can't really see it but you sense it when the pen seems to be loosing heat and not burning like it should. The first reaction is to turn up the heat, but if you keep a small brass brush nearby and just clean the tip it starts burning like it should without the extra heat. Also, you can sharpen both the pjl pen for burning the stitches and the skew tip for the rim design to get a finer line. I use one of these https://www.cabelas.com/catalog/pro....z_btnclk=YMAL-1225334&WT.z_pg_ref=prd2315627 to sharpen the curved tip and a trend diamond card for sharpening the skew tips.
 
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John, another thing to consider is keeping the burning pen clean. After burning for a few minutes a little carbon builds up on the pen. You can't really see it but you sense it when the pen seems to be loosing heat and not burning like it should. The first reaction is to turn up the heat, but if you keep a small brass brush nearby and just clean the tip it starts burning like it should without the extra heat. Also, you can sharpen both the pjl pen for burning the stitches and the skew tip for the rim design to get a finer line. I use one of these https://www.cabelas.com/catalog/pro....z_btnclk=YMAL-1225334&WT.z_pg_ref=prd2315627 to sharpen the curved tip and a trend diamond card for sharpening the skew tips.
Curtis, thanks for the tip. I've been lightly scraping off the tips with a Razortip tip cleaner/scraper that I bought with the power supply. I've been doing it when I noticed that the lines I'm burning are not as narrow/clean. Probably should be doing it more often. I'll pick up a small brass brush when I pass at the hardware, as the scraper isn't very practical for the PJL basket tip. I have a diamond card (600 grit) that I use for my chisels; I didn't think about using it on the skew pen...
 

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I try to keep the beading pen temperature down so that there isn't any visible smoke (this is a goal ... not always possible) which minimizes build up of carbon or resins from the wood although this varies with species of wood. In the past I have used a small brass bristled brush, but Pat at PJL recommends not using that or anything abrasive unless absolutely necessary. Instead, he says to use paraffin canning wax can still be found in some grocery stores although fewer people are into canning these days. He said that he learned this trick from a physicist in which basically you get the pen glowing hot and then plunge it into a bar of paraffin. It gets the tip bright and shiny without any abrasion. I have been using this method to clean the tips for about a year and am very pleased with the results.
 
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I try to keep the beading pen temperature down so that there isn't any visible smoke (this is a goal ... not always possible) which minimizes build up of carbon or resins from the wood although this varies with species of wood. In the past I have used a small brass bristled brush, but Pat at PJL recommends not using that or anything abrasive unless absolutely necessary. Instead, he says to use paraffin canning wax can still be found in some grocery stores although fewer people are into canning these days. He said that he learned this trick from a physicist in which basically you get the pen glowing hot and then plunge it into a bar of paraffin. It gets the tip bright and shiny without any abrasion.I have been using this method to clean the tips for about a year and am very pleased with the results.
That's an interesting idea. You are plunging it frequently as you progress with the burning? (We have paraffin bars; I use it to seal the end-grain of wood that I'm stocking.)
 

Bill Boehme

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That's an interesting idea. You are plunging it frequently as you progress with the burning? (We have paraffin bars; I use it to seal the end-grain of wood that I'm stocking.)

It depends. Occasionally it's frequently, but more frequently it's occasionally. I suspect that once the surface of the pen tip has been scuffed with an abrasive there is more "tooth" for the carbon and other residues to stick to the surface. If necessary a fine polishing compound could be used to restore the tip.
 
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Hi John, I finished my LK 41-42 "Beacon Lights". Here some PDFs with some details as promised.
 

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  • Baskest Illusion No 6-1.pdf
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  • Baskest Illusion No 6-2-1.pdf
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  • Baskest Illusion No 6-2-2.pdf
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  • Baskest Illusion No 6-3.pdf
    572.3 KB · Views: 21
  • Baskest Illusion No 6-4.pdf
    752.3 KB · Views: 22
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That's a good start on doing the herringbone pattern. I will try to make some drawings later to illustrate what I feel like is a freehand method that reduces the probability of making mistakes.

I recommend dialing back the temperature of your burner to a much lower setting. That also makes it easier to pick up a line as it wraps around the rim. For doing the fine detail lines I dial the heat down so that the lines are barely visible. I use the side of the skew for shading. For my realistic look shadows need to be subtle so I play with the heat setting to find what works best. You might also consider the more stylized approach to burning the herringbone pattern that many others use. My approach of using low heat means the process will be slowed down considerably, but the results will be neater. My hands aren't as steady as they once were so working slower is a necessity.

I noticed that the beading is burned with a high heat setting. That's probably OK when outlining a pattern that will be inked, but for the bare areas try using a lower setting that leaves a light mark without any smoke.
Hi Bill,
Thanks for all of your helpful hints that you post about illusion baskets. Always good. Did you ever get a chance to make the drawings you mentioned here about your technique for doing the herringbone edge? I'm about to start my first edge treatment.
Bruce R.
 

Bill Boehme

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Hi Bill,
Thanks for all of your helpful hints that you post about illusion baskets. Always good. Did you ever get a chance to make the drawings you mentioned here about your technique for doing the herringbone edge? I'm about to start my first edge treatment.
Bruce R.

I never did, but the method that Jean-Louis showed is very similar to the way that I do it.
 
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