Gauri Bansal’s interest in pyrography – an art form involving a woodcutting tool used to create patterns on wood or other materials – came out of nowhere.
It all started when her eldest daughter came home five years ago with a floral artwork she created using microtip pens on archival paper. Bansal took a look at the art and suddenly wanted to burn it with wood.
“Notice, I had never burned in wood before. I had never owned a wood-burning tool before, ”Bansal says. “I can’t tell you why that day I wanted to take his design and burn it with wood. I didn’t want to paint it. I didn’t want to sketch it. I wanted to burn it with wood.
Subsequently, Bansal went to a craft store, bought the tool, asked her daughter to draw a similar pattern on a piece of wood, and began to burn wood. Bansal says she didn’t really bother to read the instructions, and didn’t even realize that wood traditionally had to be prepared in advance.
Now, years later, Bansal has become an expert in the art of pyrography, focusing largely on functional art and selling pieces through her business, Prettyful Creations.
Originally from India, Bansal moved to Madison 20 years ago from Maryland. Throughout her life she was drawn to creative pursuits, especially with her mother who did crafts herself. “As a child, I would sit and run the machine for her while she sewed,” Bansal says. Bansal also painted and practiced art in high school before later earning a bachelor’s degree in home economics and information systems.
Bansal was looking for her own creative business and tried selling candles on Etsy, but something clicked when she first held a wood-burning tool.
“The only thing I had never heard of, never done, never seen – it became my career,” Bansal says.
Prettyful Creations is not Bansal’s daily job; she works for the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, but one day hopes to become a full-time artist.
When Bansal starts a project, she prepares her wood by sanding it, then uses her tool to make a drawing. The tool is basically a 1200 degree ballpoint pen with tips or nibs of different sizes that burn lines of different thicknesses. “As long as you can draw and write, you can burn wood,” she says. “You can basically trace your design on wood… then walk through it with your heat tool. “
Bansal typically does her mandala and henna-inspired coasters and designs freehand, but for larger and more intricate pieces of wood, she will sketch out the designs first.
There is a large online community of pyrographs specializing in all kinds of techniques. Bansal says she naturally gravitates towards mandala or henna designs. Everyone has their own style and they exchange ideas, she says. “As an artist, I find that my style [involves] line drawing that just fits [me well] for mandalas and henna designs, ”Bansal says.
Bansal’s early pieces incorporated henna designs. (Henna is an art form practiced in many cultures and countries, including India, Morocco, and Yemen.) From there, she began to create mandalas, which are circles with eight meditative parts. to draw and watch, and each mandala design has a specific meaning. Traditional mandalas originate from areas where Hinduism and Buddhism are practiced, and designs begin with a central point incorporating lines and symbols around that point. While Bansal typically starts with traditional patterns by dividing her designs into eight sections, she calls her mandalas semi-authentic because she departs from tradition in order to incorporate more variety.
Bansal aims to keep her art functional, which means there has to be an intention to whatever she does. Its main purpose is to accent the house with beautiful things that have a purpose, such as kitchen spoons, coasters, candle holders, salad servers, key chains, bottle openers, boards. chopping boards, wine boxes and serving boards.
“I absolutely will and I can do custom orders if anyone wants to have wall art,” Bansal says. “I’ve made several for my own home, but when it comes to having them in my store, my personal choice is to make things that can be used.
Thinking back to her decision to get into pyrography years ago, Bansal says she never expected it to be such a good choice. She said it was as if the universe was telling her that it was time for her to be happy after taking so long to look for something of her own.
“It fills me like nothing else,” Bansal says. “I can bring my design, my culture – I can open the doors to a conversation. “
Find Prettyful Creations: prettyfulcreations.com, Facebook @Prettyfulcreations, Instagram @ prettyful.creations
Maija Inveiss is Associate Editor-in-Chief of Madison Magazine.
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