Step 2: Burning the Gourd
5. No, we're not going to set the gourd on fire. It's called pyrography - drawing or writing with a wood burning implement to permanently mark designs. You can buy cheaper styles at craft stores, but if you really want to get into doing a lot of gourds, invest in a more professional style. I use the Gourd Unit Nibsburner, which is a good wood burner, but not one of the more expensive units. It heats up to several hundred degrees in just seven seconds and cools off just as quickly, making it easy to pause every now and then to sharpen the blade. For this gourd I used a HD SF1 tip for the face and a HD #5 for the leaves. After I finished burning the entire gourd, I sanded it again to smooth out the surface. Burning leaves a rough edge to the burned areas.
The cord that connects the tips to the unit is long and I usually wrap it once around the arm I use to burn with. It keeps the excess out of the way and helps with controlling the tips. The following picture reminded me of a couple of extra tips. Use a filter mask when you burn. The wood burners create smoke which is hazardous to your breathing. Also, I find when wood burning or painting, my pinky finger is a great tool to use to steady my hand (and it's always available). Be careful where you do this. Sparks can drop off of your gourd. Make sure you don't burn where this would be a bad thing. I had several drop onto my jeans and had to brush them off immediately. Nothing burned, but it pays to pay attention.