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How to Creatively Burn Paper for Crafts

Updated on March 3, 2017

Burning Paper Edges Creates A Unique Effect With A Multitude Of Crafty Applications

Burning paper in a controlled way is easy to do with the right tools. Luckily the right tools are pretty inexpensive and can be used for other crafts as well!

Why would you want to burn paper edges? Well, if you've got a creative nature I'm sure you can think of at least one project you could apply this process to. Pirate treasure map comes to mind immediately for me though I've yet to make one myself. I started burning paper with my pyrography tool for my bookmarks. It is a way to ensure that each finished piece is unique even if I'm making a batch of 20 that all look the same superficially.

Below I have outlined the process I use to create burned paper edges.

Please share your favorite paper crafts in the comments section!

Materials

In addition to the materials below you obviously need the paper you intend to burn. I also like to keep a little bowl of water to hand just in case the paper catches fire in a big way. To date I've never had to use the water but I feel better having it close.

Dremel 1550 T2 Versa Tip Multipurpose Tool  Kit
Dremel 1550 T2 Versa Tip Multipurpose Tool Kit

My pyrography tool is similar to this one. It's of course manufactured for wood burning but I discovered that it is also great for burning paper edges.

Be sure that whatever set you buy, it also comes with a stand, the stand is pretty essential and it's usually part of the kit however if you're getting one second hand for instance, be sure to double check.

 
Prismacolor Premier Kneaded Rubber Eraser, Large, 1 Pack
Prismacolor Premier Kneaded Rubber Eraser, Large, 1 Pack

A kneaded eraser is an essential tool for any artist. It is the consistency of putty (or poster tack) and it lifts pencil and charcoal off of paper without damaging the surface. In this application it's great for removing sooty fingerprints and smears which occur as you work.

 
Fox Run Marble Pastry Board, Black, 12 x 16-inches
Fox Run Marble Pastry Board, Black, 12 x 16-inches

I have many stone cutting boards as well as stone coasters because I love the way that they look and feel. They also double for crafting purposes when I need a fireproof surface to work on or with. Recently my husband got me a fireproof mat to try but I haven't used it yet.

 

Safety First

Whenever you are using anything hot which can potentially catch fire you must utilize common sense.

Make sure that if you're going to use a pyrography tool you are in an open, well ventilated area away from any other flammable materials.

My favorite place to work is in the middle of the kitchen floor with the window open.

Pyrography is a wonderful craft for supervised children, however using the tool in the way I'm outlining in this article is best suited for adults.

All you need to do is cut the paper roughly to the size and shape you want it and heat up the pyrography tool.

Once the tool is fully heated you can start applying the tip to the paper carefully. I do this with the paper in one hand and the tool in the other rather than straight on the marble.

You will notice that a pyrography set will come with a few different tips. My favorite tip for this particular job is the one that looks like a flat-head screwdriver. You will need to experiment yourself to see which tip is your favorite.

As you apply the hot tip to the paper you will notice that the paper sort of just melts away and with practice you will be able to sculpt the edge you want. You do need to be very careful because if the tip is left in contact with the paper for too long it will catch fire.

If you use different parts of the tip and the stem of the tool it will create different effects. It may take a little while for you to find your comfort zone and different paper will burn in different ways so make sure you have plenty of practice paper to experiment with.

Typically I do let the paper start to smolder a bit so that it's just glowing red and eating away a natural burned portion and then I snuff out the ember with my fingers reshaping the contours as necessary afterward. Sometimes however, this happens when I don't want it to and it's difficult to remember that I need to snuff out the ember since blowing on it will just speed up the burning and will cause it to potentially flame up. Nobody's perfect!

After you have gone around the part you want to burn once you can reshape anything you don't like the look of. Make sure that you crumble away any paper that is very burned as it will leave marks on other things you might be sticking it to.

Once the edges are tidy you can clean any unwanted dirty marks or fingerprints with the gum eraser. Just kneed it a bit to get it nice and soft, then press it down onto the dirty portions and lift it away from the paper. It will take the dirty bits along with it. You can also rub the eraser on the paper if you wish as it is far gentler than a normal eraser but the lifting method should do the job.

The paper on the left in the photo above is dirty and the paper on the right has been cleaned. I understand the difference isn't the easiest to spot in the photograph but some papers will get dirtier than others. Especially if you're working with very small papers.

Completed Bookmark With Tiny Book Tassel

Why do I need so many papers with the same quote? I just love making these bookmarks with the tiny bound book tassels! (The little book pictured above is about the size of your thumbnail)

Another Creative Application - In fact, I just love making tiny books in general :)

Click thumbnail to view full-size

What Is Your Favorite Paper Craft?

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    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 3 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      My compliments to your creativity!

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      I'll have to give this a try sometime!

      Side note- I saw you have a unique last name of Bonczek, we must be related.

    • Julia Morais profile image

      Julia Morais 4 years ago

      Very creative. Love the tiny book too.

    • Varliukas profile image

      Varliukas 4 years ago

      What a beauty! I will try to this by my myself. Thank you! :)

    • Stuwaha profile image
      Author

      Stuwaha 4 years ago

      @Lady Lorelei: Thank you :) I'm rather attached to the tiny book myself!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      This is beautiful. I love your teeny tiny book. It is like a little fairy novel lol. Gorgeous.

    • shauna1934 profile image

      shauna1934 4 years ago

      I just love this idea. Thank you for sharing. Will be burning my own paper crafts.