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The Pyrography of Mary Robertson McConnell

Q. How did you get started in pyrography?

A. I got started by having a dream! I woke up, ate breakfast and drove to the art supply store in my town, and bought my first pyrography pen. That was about 7 years ago.

Q. What is the biggest influence on your art?

A. It's hard to say what the biggest influence in my art would be. I just try to get better with every piece I do and not compare myself to anyone else. We are all on our own journey with our own destinations.

Q. Did art play a role in your childhood? (Were you exposed to artists, did you enjoy making art)

A. Art played a HUGE influence during my childhood. I started drawing at age 3 and have drawn almost every day for the last 54 years! I loved clay, paints, macrame, always had a sketchbook going. I'd draw while watching TV, drew on my book covers, in the margins of my notes. My teachers just let me go! Everyone was very encouraging.

Q. Who is your favorite artist?

A. Overall, my favorite artist is DaVinci, not because of the Mona Lisa or any of his paintings, but because of his notebooks! They are so wonderful and truly amazing pieces of art on their own. I love seeing what artists create purely for themselves.

Q. How does art impact your life?

A. Art impacts my life every day. My career(s) have included advertising, graphic design, package design, illustration, teaching design & home renovation. I always knew I had to be creative, and it was just a matter of finding a career that let me. I look at my jobs as what I GET to do, not what I HAVE to do.

Q. When you make your art is it planned or do you just see where it goes?

A. When I make a piece of art, I know if it will be a mandala, but beyond that, I have no idea where it will go. I usually have an eye in the middle. That was something I started last year because the year was 2020 and that's considered perfect eyesight. (My husband is in the eye care field). That got such a good reaction from customers, that I've decided to keep it as kind of a signature. If you see the eye, you know it's mine. This year I would like to branch out and do more animal portraits and nature. I'm currently working on a commission where the client wants roses on the lid of a large box and I have really enjoyed trying something new.

Q. What does your workday look like?

A. My workday is varied. Somedays I can work 10-12 hours. Other days, maybe 2-3. Either way, I wake up happy that I get to do what I do. I get to have the TV or radio on in the background and just lose myself in my work. My husband reminds me to eat lunch. I can wear comfy clothes, take a break to get groceries, or do laundry. I like to search thrift stores for interesting old boxes and pieces of wood or furniture to burn on. It keeps "junk" out of landfills and gives it a second life. It shows that everything can be a piece of art with a little time and attention.

Find more of Mary's work on Facebook and Instagram.

All of the above images are copyright Mary Robertson McConnell and shared here with permission.

Try it Yourself

Image by Edith Velez from Pixabay

Woodburning with Those Clancy Kids.

You will need:

flat, smooth piece of wood

woodburning tool


With help from an adult, plug the woodburning tool in and let it heat up in a safe place away from anything flamable. Make sure the metal end is resting on the stand so you don't burn your work surface.

While you wait for the tool to heat up, draw your design on the piece of wood.

When the tool is hot (Do not touch it to find out!), carefully trace your design. Keep the metal end away from your skin, it is very hot. Move slowly and smoothly. If there are places that didn't get evenly burned, go back over them.

When you are finished, unplug the woodburning tool and let it cool in a safe place. You can leave your artwork the way it is now, or you can add color with watercolors or diluted acrylic paints.

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