Can You Use Pyrography on Leather? Read Before You Try

You can do a ton of amazing things to customize leather through engraving or embossing, for example. Pyrography is an excellent way to get crafty, so you might wonder if you can combine the two. Burning leather might sound intimidating, but it’s not impossible.

Can you use pyrography on leather? Yes, pyrography works well on leather, and it can give a cool new look to the material. Of course, using pyrography at all comes with its fair share of risks, so it’s important to stay safe. That way, the fire can burn the leather and nothing else near it.

If you want to use pyrography on leather, you have to make sure that you understand how it works. That way, you can focus on creating something new instead of primarily worrying about your safety.

Of course, you shouldn’t attempt pyrography without taking some precautions.

How Does Pyrography Work on Leather?

Pyrography is the art of burning material to create a design. While wood is typically the material of choice for pyrography, you can also use leather.

Of course, wood and leather are quite different, so it can be confusing when you first realize you can use the same process on both.

However, you use a special tool called a pyrography pen to burn a design onto a piece of leather. It may not be as easy as burning working with wood, but it can be a great way to get creative with a new material or technique.

Still, both materials involve the same basic tools and processes of using a pyrography pen to complete the design.

Whether you’ve used pyrography on other materials or not, you can use it on leather. If you decide to use it on leather, you will need to make sure you have the proper tools and that you prepare everything. That way, you don’t burn the leather too much, and you can keep yourself and your surroundings safe as well.

When using pyrography on leather, be sure to stick to the skin side, which is the smooth side. The flesh side can be a bit rough for the pyrography pen, and it can be hard to get the design you want. You will also want to smooth out the leather to further help make it a good canvas for pyrography.

What You Need

Now that you have a basic understanding of how you can use pyrography on leather, you need to know what tools you’ll use. Many of these tools are specialized for pyrography, so odds are you won’t have everything unless you’ve done this before.

Still, it can be nice to have a checklist of everything you need before you start the process.

  • Of course, the most important thing you’ll need is a piece of leather. It can be the size of your chosen design, or you can cut up a bigger piece.
  • You will also need a bit of water to help smooth out the leather on both sides so that you can prepare the material.
  • A burnisher, such as a special piece of wood or even a drinking glass, can help you smooth out the leather even more.
  • While not necessary, gum tragacanth can help make the leather darker, and it can help give your design a shinier finish.
  • Next, you’ll need a pattern or image to serve as your design. Along with that, you should have some gentle paper first aid tape to apply your design to the leather.
  • Finally, you’ll need a pyrography pen to burn the design you use onto the material.

These materials can help you before and during the burning process, so having them all will help you. Now, you can go without the gum tragacanth and the tape, but those supplies can improve your design and make things easier.

Especially if this is your first pyrography project, you want to make this as easy as you can.

Choose Your Pattern

Before you start preparing the leather, make sure you choose your pattern or design. Without this, you won’t know how much leather you need to cut out and prepare. Your design doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated, and you can even find a nice picture or graphic online to use.

If you’re new to pyrography, starting with a simple design will mean fewer opportunities for errors. As you get more practice, you can use more complicated images. You also don’t have to worry about choosing the perfect pattern, so stick with something that you like.

Once you have your pattern ready to go, you can move to the next step, which involves preparing the leather for the pyrography. This step is essential if you want to give yourself the best chance of getting a good result. While you can correct mistakes, you want to try to get it right the first time to avoid fixing issues.

Prepare the Leather

Now that you have what you need and you chose your design, you need to prepare the leather. Of course, you may not always need to complete every small step. However, the right preparations will make it easier to work with the leather later.

  1. First, cut out a piece of leather to fit the size of your chosen pattern. Make sure the piece isn’t too big or too small for what you want.
  2. Use a spray bottle of water to wet the skin side of the leather. Then, use a burnisher of your choice to rub the water into the material, which will help smooth it out.
  3. Wait until the leather is completely dry, then repeat the steps on the other side. Smoothing both sides will give you a firmer surface for the pyrography.
  4. At this point, you may need to trim the leather down depending on how it reacted or changed shape with the water.
  5. Next, apply the pattern to the leather. You can print the pattern on thin paper and trace over it. Use some tape to keep the pattern from moving around.
  6. You can also draw the pattern without tracing it if you’re good at drawing or have a simple design.

After you draw your pattern onto the leather, you’re almost ready to go. Of course, you need to remove the pattern from the leather so that you won’t burn the paper along with the leather.

Burn the Leather

Now, you’re ready to grab your pyrography pen and start burning your design onto your leather. If you’ve never done this before, consider using a scrap piece of leather for a test run. The scrap will give you a chance to get a feel for the pen and how it works.

Once you’re ready to do the real thing, grab your leather. Place it on a flat surface to keep the material steady. Then plug in your pen and set it to the low heat setting, which will keep you from burning the leather too much.

With your pyrography pen, follow the pattern as close as you can on the leather, and be careful not to burn yourself or the table. As you burn the leather, make the pressure as light as you can, and go slowly. If you find you need to go over an area again, make sure the leather has cooled down.

While you use the pyrography pen, the most important thing is to protect yourself and the leather. You may want to rush through your first project but try to avoid that temptation. By going slowly, you will have more control over your hand and the pen, so you can hopefully get the design you want.

Final Thoughts

While pyrography is often associated with wood, you can also use it on leather. Whether you want to work with different material or use a new technique, you can use pyrography to create unique designs. Just make sure you take it slowly and protect yourself when using heat.

Image Credit: Smallest Forest