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Step 1: Once the barrel head has been sanded smooth, the  images
are applied on the surface of the barrel.
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Step 2:
After the raw images have been applied, the head is given another
fine sanding for an extra smooth surface.
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Step 3: The next step involves "edging"  all the artwork and lettering.  
This is the most time-consuming step. I use a special pen that
reaches 1,100 degrees.
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Step 4:
Once the edging is finished, the slow process of filling in the letters
and shading the other artwork begins.
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Step 5: Each barrel head can take up to 12 hours to complete,
depending on the complexity of the design.
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Step 6:
After several hours of tedious labor, this barrel head is ready to ship to
Jim Beam!
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Here's how it's done...
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q:  I'm a big Jim Beam® collector, can you make a Jim Beam® barrel head for me?
A:  Because of copyright laws, I can only make Jim Beam® heads for the Jim Beam® company.  All
barrel head art shown on this website was created at the request of the owner's of the copyrighted
designs.  I can put YOUR business logo on a barrel head, too!  I have burned images of
motorcycles, tractors, boats, even family pets on barrel heads!

Q:  Can you burn a portrait onto a barrel head?
A:
 Yes!  I've burned many barrel heads from portraits and pictures.  I can burn just about anything
you can imagine,
as long as it is not copyrighted.  Call or email for a quote!

Q:  How much do they cost?
A:
 The cost varies, depending on the complexity of the design.  Remember, no lasers or silk
screening here!  They are all made completely by hand.

Q:  What about shipping?
A:
 The barrel heads are big and heavy.  They measure 21 inches across and weigh about 10
pounds.  Shipping is usually about $25 for single heads.  If you live within 25 miles of Harrodsburg,
KY, I'll deliver them for free!

Q:  How long does it take to burn a barrel head?
A:
 Barrel heads are burned one at a time.  Each barrel head takes 12 hours (or longer) to
complete, depending on the complexity of the design.  They are made on a first come, first serve
basis.

Q:  Do you ever get burned?
A:
 Occasionally. The tool I use reaches 1,100 degrees.  

Q:  Are those real barrel heads?
A:
 Yes!  They are solid white oak and made by Independent Stave Company in Lebanon, KY.

Q:  Do you put a finish on them?
A:
 Yes.  I use Minwax stain with several coats of lacquer.

Q:  Can I hang a barrel head on my wall?
A:
 Yes.  I put a heavy-duty wire on the back of the barrel that is secured with screws.  Make sure
you mount it in a place that can support it, like a wall stud.  Each head weighs about 10 lbs.

Q:  Aren't barrel heads charred?  Will the char get on my walls?
A:
 No.  I pull these barrel heads from the factory before they get charred.  The back is painted
black to give the look of a charred head.

Q:  What is pyrography?
A:  Pyrography means "writing with fire" or "fire art" and is also sometimes known as wood burning.
Pyrography is the traditional art of using a heated tip or wire to burn or scorch designs onto natural
materials such as wood or leather. Burning can be done by means of a modern solid-point tool
(similar to a soldering iron) or hot wire tool, or a more basic method using a metal implement heated
in a fire.  This allows a great range of natural tones and shades to be achieved - beautiful subtle
effects can create a picture in sepia tones, or strong dark strokes can make a bold, dramatic
design. Varying the type of tip used, the temperature, or the way the iron is applied to the material
all create different effects. Solid-point machines offer a variety of tip shapes, and can also be used
for "branding" the wood or leather. Wire-point machines allow the artist to shape the wire into a
variety of configurations, to achieve broad marks or fine lines. This work is time-consuming, done
entirely by hand, with each line of a complex design drawn individually. After the design is burned
in, wooden objects are often coloured, sometimes boldly or more delicately tinted. Light-colored
hardwoods such as sycamore, beech and birch are most commonly used, as their fine grain is not
obtrusive, and they produce the most pleasing contrast. However, other woods, such as pine or
oak, are also used when required.  And since bourbon barrels are made of white oak, that's what I
use.

Q:  What makes bourbon "bourbon"?
A:   Kentucky Bourbon has a history as old as the United States of America.  The Bluegrass State is
well known for its race horses and hospitality, but nothing says Kentucky like bourbon. New  white
oak barrels are filled with 53 gallons of clear whiskey and housed for several years of aging. The
barrels are charred on the inside which caramelizes the natural sugars in the wood, giving bourbon
its color and taste as it ages. Kentucky bourbon must be aged for a minimum of two years but most
bourbons spend anywhere from four to eight years in a barrel. Since no two barrels have been
exposed to the same variations in environmental factors such as temperature, slight changes in the
character of the bourbon will result. Distillers will blend the various barrels together to make sure
they get a uniform final product.  Find out more at
The Kentucky Distiller's Association.
TroyBrady.com is ©2007.  All rights reserved.  I am not affiliated with or endorsed by any of the companies listed in this site.
NOTE** I can not burn copyrighted images or designs unless you are the owner of the copyright.   
All barrel head art shown on this website was created at the request of the owner's of the copyrighted designs.