Bob Neill 9 September 2010

Bob and his wife Del arrived in ample time for a 7.00 p.m. start and quickly began See Bob's Photossetting up.

Bob had brought 16 pyrography machines with him, and what seemed like a huge number of leads! However, only two sockets were required, and everything was put together very quickly.

Tables were erected around three sides of a rectangle, leaving space in the middle for Bob and Del to oversee the “trainees”. We had some misgivings as the Grain Loft at Wood Lane has a smoke alarm connected directly to the fire brigade, and we wondered whether the smoke from 16 pyrography machines would set it off. Bob explained that used properly there would be no smoke, so we cut down the number of machines being used by a couple, made sure the room was well ventilated – and kept our fingers crossed.

Members had been encouraged to bring a piece of their own to “burn”, and Bob provided a large number of plywood blanks in various shapes and sizes – there were coasters, key rings and all sorts of other things.

Bob had displayed twenty or thirty pieces of his stunning work and began by talking about some of them, explaining the techniques and finishes used. Then fourteen people sat down and made a start. Each person was given a rectangle of plywood, with a number of small rabbits (yes, little rabbits!) stamped on it. Bob explained that the wire in the burner should be red hot, but not too hot, and that a stroking motion should be used, rather than placing the burner on the wood and then pulling/pushing it along. He was right, done this way, there was no smoke unless the machine was turned up too high or the wrong technique was employed. Once people had got the hang of it they were encouraged to try their skills on one of the plywood blanks – also stamped with a design. To say people were absorbed was an understatement – and some good work was produced. We had a small lathe set up for those who were not burning things, and one member went on to turn a small bowl which he subsequently pyrographed – it was lovely! Bob generously donated one of his pieces for us to sell or raffle for St Luke’s Hospice, and also gave us a number of magazines to sell for the charity too. He and Del made a good team, putting everyone at their ease with their expertise and good humour. It was a very successful evening, and we’ll certainly invite them back.

Lesley Churton

Club Secretary