We interviewed RZ Mask's recent #rz5kgiveaway winner and chatted about woodburning, creative inspiration and more.
Basia C., Woodburning Artist
How did you get started woodburning?
"I started woodburning a little bit by chance. I lived in Calgary for about six years. During that time, I had friends who started a business called BassBus. It’s basically a platform for DJs and artists of many kinds to perform at various music festivals.
They took out everything from the bus – gutted it and covered it in wood. They needed permanent art on it and so they found woodburning. They believed in me enough to let me burn their bus, and so I did."
How did you hear about RZ?
"I first heard about RZ Mask through Rachel from Wood Burn Corner (@woodburncorner). She is the host of the Burn Club, which is a community of people who share their ideas, their tips and techniques, their materials, all kinds of information.
She also hosted the Burn Club Retreat which I went to last year and we all got masks there. Since I’ve gotten to try the masks there, I haven’t tried anything else."
Why do you wear an RZ Mask?
"There are a lot of reasons why I love RZ Mask. Besides the comfort, it’s super easy to put on. I don’t struggle with these tiny elastics everywhere and it slipping. They have different sizes which is amazing; Rachel brought a couple sizes and we tried them on and got the perfect fit for us.
My favorite part of it is that you can actually take out the filter really easily rather than ditching the whole mask. Sustainability!"
What made you want to start Fine Line Pyro?
"I started Fine Line Pyro only to have my pieces put somewhere. I just kind of wanted to get them out of my crawl space. As I was collecting more and more pieces, they were being shoved away and collecting dust.
Then I started an Instagram page [@finelinepyro] and I started posting and posting. It grew from there. I had the luxury of attending last year's [Burn Club] retreat and it really brought to light the exact pathway that my business should be going. Thanks to Rachel, I am where I am now."
Where do you get your inspiration?
"It’s safe to say that most of my inspiration comes from nature. I do a lot of camping and portaging so I’m in nature a lot. I like the details in leaves, and I have a lot of plants at home.
Sometimes I’ll have ideas just come to me, even when I sleep. Like, I’ll wake up at 3 AM and have to put that idea down on paper or it will keep repeating itself."
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
"Someone that makes wooden musical instruments."
What do you like about teaching?
"I love teaching. I really want to share the art of pyrography because not a lot of people know what it is or understand it. For me, it is a huge escape from a busy lifestyle.
Once I sit down with a burner (you do have to go a lot slower than you’d expect), it slows me down. It’s my form of meditation.
I want to share that with everyone and show them that you can ‘Zen-out’ and do some art. Time freezes for me; I burn away and then realize it is midnight."
How often do you teach?
"I usually teach on Saturdays; Lee Valley Tools is one place. I also teach private classes, sometimes at my place or I go and travel to other people’s places.
One is a freestyle class. I do ask the people ahead of time what they want, and some people do their own thing with my support and guidance.
Some people really enjoy having a kind of ‘paint-n-sip’ style where we do a predetermined image and I’ll guide them step-by-step throughout the whole process so that everyone has the same image, but in their own style."
What is your favorite part about woodburning?
"My favorite part about woodburning is definitely the meditation aspect I mentioned, but I also appreciate the fact that it can be sustainable. I try not to use any other materials that are unnatural.
My husband and his family own a shop [Heritage Finishes] and they not only let me use their tools and machines, but I also get all their offcuts. So, all those pieces that they can’t use for their kitchens – which would normally go to the dump – I make art with them.
If I need something very specific, I reach out to Walnut Hollow, which is also a sustainable company."
What safety tips do you have for fellow burners?
"Woodburning is pretty dangerous in a lot of aspects. A mask is protecting your lungs and it’s kind of the first thing you think about. It is very important because you’re right above your product and the smoke is rising, so you keep it at an angle, almost like it’s an easel and you work away from you.
A lot of people forget the people around them. Having an air purifier in the area is really important, as well as a fan which directs the smoke away and into the air purifier. I usually put my fan backwards so the smoke gets sucked through rather than blowing on [the burning pen tool] or else the tip will cool down and it won’t burn as well.
For burning itself, you have to be very aware of what you’re burning on. Different woods can become poisonous when heated so you really have to watch what you’re burning on. It has to be unfinished as well because if it has any chemicals, any paint, any finishes, even oils, when they’re heated it could be poisonous, even with all the other safety procedures in place.
Some people feel like it gets too hot [when holding the pen tool] so there are little gloves you can use. If you have an awesome machine – like the Razertip machine, which I’ve been using for 10 years now – it’s comfortable and doesn’t get too hot."
Congrats again to Basia! You can check out our winner presentation video on YouTube or Instagram to learn how our winner took her $5,000 winning photo and more.