Beginner’s Guide to Pyrography

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Beginner’s Guide to Pyrography

Pyrography is the use of burning or scorching tools to etch drawings, writings, or designs on the surface of materials such as wood, leather, gourds, paper, or any other material that wouldn’t get damaged by the dry heat from the burning tool

Leather is a great material to burn on and doing pyrography on leather is very satisfying. Unlike wood, leather has no grains you will need to navigate. The tips or nibs of the heated burning tool will sink nicely into the grain side of the leather and allows you to smoothly burn your impressions.

Leather Pyrographing is best suited to Vegetable tanned leather, this
is also known as tooling leather and is available from leather work specialists. Other kinds of leather are carcinogenic to burn, as whatever chemicals are present in the tanning process, you will be inhaling. If the leather is too thin it will wrinkle at the touch of heat so make sure to get a decent thickness, and ask for unsplit veg tan leather.

Leather as a material goes through a process called tanning, which turns it from fresh animals skins into what we see and use as leather. The tanning process turns leather into an imperishable or a material that doesn’t deteriorate, thus, making it one of the most perfect materials for a lot of things we use everyday.

While there are a lot of tanning methods for leather, there are two main types of tanning that’s very common. There’s the vegetable tanned leather and the chrome tanned leather. Among these two common types of leather, the vegetable tanned leather is the one which is best for leather pyrography. You can learn more about vegetable and chrome tanned leather and their differences here .
Vegetable tanning entails the use of plant extracts such as tree backs, leaves, roots, etc. The ingredients used in vegetable tanning makes it one of the most non-chemical processes for turning raw skins into leather. There are couple more reason why vegetable tanned leather is best for leather pyrography.

  1. Not a flammable material
    You better don’t apply heat on any material that can easily catch fire. This makes the vegetable tanned leather ideal because of the absence flammable substances.
  2. Veg-tanned leather is non toxic
    If we use chemicals for the preparation of leather, during pyrography it can release toxic substances that can be inhaled. But using artificial leather is worse. Usually it is made of polyvinyl chloride, which is a highly toxic material, can cause a lot of problems to the health.
  3. Grain surface quality
    It is easy to burn naturally tanned leather, it doesn’t melt or burst into flames because of heat contact unlike synthethic ones.


Print off your pattern on lightweight paper , coat the back of the pattern with a graphite pencil, secure to leather, and trace over the pattern. Make sure to check the trace results for accuracy before removing the pattern.
Do not use scotch tape to secure the pattern to the leather. Use gentle paper tape as it has a very low adhesive factor and doesn’t leave any trace.


Burning leather to create art is satisfying and very versatile. Numerous tones and effects can be created easily! There really isn’t much can be said other than to give it a go, as most techniques are learned by trial and error. Anyway these are the essential tips

· Keep the pen heat low. Better to have a leather burning tool that you can regulate, because unlike wood, leather doesn’t require too much heat to burn.
·Stopping in the middle of a line will create a deep pit. To avoid this you have to lift up in motion.
·It is also important to burn on cool leather. If you have to reburn over an area let it cool completely before burning.
·If the tip seems to be having a tough time burning the leather you may have to clean off the tip. It is easy to clean the tip with the backside of metal polishing cloth, as it is rougher than the polishing side.
·After the burning is done, be sure to apply some type of finisher sealant as you would for any leather crafting. This will prolong the life of the burn marks.

Hope, that this blog provided you some useful information. Leather burning is fun, but challenging. Share your experience with us!

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