How To Burn Leather – Intro To Pyrography

Pyrography is an art of aesthetics, and it’s created by burning some specific leathers. But it’s not easy work for newbies. However, you can adapt the skill with a lot of practice. So, how to burn leather?

To burn the leather, you need to prepare it first (wash and dry). Then make the desirable drawing with a tool which don’t leave permanent scars on the leather surface. Use the burning tool gently on those marked areas. Vegetable-tanned leather is the best for pyrography because they are not chemically processed and can be adapted quickly.

This remarkable skill needs preciseness and lots of patience. So, you need to practice hard but smartly to learn pyrography.

What Is Leather Pyrography?

Pyrography is the art of making permanent designs on several surfaces like wood, gourd, paper, leather, or metal by burning the surface of these materials.

Leather pyrography is very special because the design through the burning looks satisfying on leather surfaces and helps reveal the leather’s natural beauty. The process is pretty quick compared to a wood-burning project or another similar one.

You just need to put on the design on the leather surface and use the burning tool to make the design permanent. The design doesn’t get demolished over time and sticks around from generation to generation. That’s because leather has more longevity than wood.

On top of that, with several highlights and shading of leather, the surface adds fantastic smoothness to this pyrography technique.

Tools You Need To For Leather Pyrography

The good news for you is that you can manage a leather pyrography project without having so many tools like wood projects.

You will have good quality leather, a burning tool, a stencil or carbon paper, pencils, and a smooth working place. You should know that several types of burning tools are present in the market. And most of them are used as wood-burning kits. So, you have to find one that has temperature control because leatherwork is more delicate and sensitive than wood.

The size of different tips is also important as they are one that burns the leather surface. So, make sure you use the right one while designing. Also, you will find different types of leather burners depending on tips – solid & wire style.

How To Burn The Leather?

As you have now gathered all the pyrography kits, let’s go to the main concern-leather burning. But before that, you need to select the leather, prepare it, and fix the desirable design.

Prepare The Leather

Typically, vegetable-tanned leather is used in pyrography for a better fashionable design. The chemical processed leather needs an extra setup for ventilation. So, it’s wise to use vegetable-tanned leather.

The preparation of leather will be complete in four stages:

  1. Let the leather wet: To make a design over a leather surface, you need to soften it. So, use water or other non-reacting agents to make the leather damp and soft.
  2. Make the surface smooth: Use a burnisher to make the leather surface smooth. Make sure you don’t apply too much force on the burnisher. Otherwise, the leather will tear apart.
  3. Don’t forget the flesh area: You also need to smooth the flesh area because it will help compress the leather surface burning.
  4. Let the leather dry: Make sure you get rid of all the water from the leather piece. Some craftsmen prefer to use a torchlight to dry the leather quickly. After that, you can start your craftwork.

Design The Leather Surface

Now it’s time to fix your burning design.

Before finalizing any design, you need to draw it on graphite paper and place it over the leather surface. It’s just a precaution that your leather doesn’t get destroyed. Decorating wood is far easier than a leather design.

Use The Tools To Finalize

Once your design is fixed, you need to use the burning tool on the surface. So, you need to follow these simple steps:


First, you need to fix your burning tip on the tool.

If you want to design images, you need to attach solid tips. To work with oriented pieces, you will need a wire tip.


You need to practice a bit, like carving the leather, before starting the original design. Use some spare pieces to practice and get comfortable with the kit and its temperature.


If you have temperature control on the burning tool, make sure you set a compatible point. Or else, the tip will make several holes at a slight pressure difference.


If you don’t have such a feature, you need to practice the pressure on the spare pieces with a hot tip. And then, you start with the actual design.


But wait! The leather piece shouldn’t move while burning it by tracking the design.

So, you can use some pliers to stabilize the piece. Pins can destroy the leather’s structure. That’s why it’s wise to use pliers or similar tools.


If it’s difficult for you to follow the pyrography pattern, you can use some scratching and tracing paper and wet the surface. It will provide an indented image for you to follow with a pyrography pen.


Suppose the leather piece you are working on is lightweight. So, you don’t need to use any graphite paper or tracing paper. You can just simply use a pencil and get your basic design done.

But if you have a thick piece of leather, you will need dye to identify the design marks. It will provide a deep pattern while burning the leather surface.


Use the wire pen tip to follow the borderlines. That’s because they are fragile to work with.


Don’t burn the leather too deep. Or else, you will reach the other end of the surface, and the leather piece is done for. Be attentive to your pyrography art, and don’t get too excited!

Can Mistakes Be Fixed? Nope!

Well, sorry to say, but there’s no room for mistake in terms of leather pyrography. You may fix the wood surface with some sand pen or ink eraser. But hey, leather and wood carving isn’t the same thing as they are totally different materials!

Here’s what will happen when you make a mistake and try to make it right:

Suppose you made a mistake while turning a borderline. You may think of using an X-acto knife to peel out the skin of the leather piece. But the piece won’t have much to design if you remove the skin.

On top of that, it will destroy the whole piece. Again, using a grey ink eraser won’t do much even after several tries.

Imagine you are performing calligraphy, and a line is mismatched. You can use the sand pen to remove the line. But it won’t be much helpful rather than leaving a whitish mark on the leather surface.

You can also try these same methods by wetting the leather. That won’t make any difference.

However, you can fix some extra dark lines with the burning pen. So, you have to be extra careful before making a line.

Practice Will Make You Perfect

You must have already guessed the difficulty of leather pyrography. But you should remember that there’s nothing that you can’t achieve with lots of hard work and practice!

So, in terms of leather pyrography, you need to practice a lot to achieve preciseness. You can collect many spare vegetable-tanned leathers and practice pyrography on them. Start with simple designs and try to cover every delicate design.

Even if you work with a wood-burning tool, it’s totally different when it comes to leather-burning pens. You need to learn every detail, every curve from the first line to the finishing one.

Pro-Tips For Leather Burning

If you want to work and learn leather pyrography, these tips are golden treasures to you.

  • The first thing to learn is – never stop in the middle while turning a line! If you stop in the middle, you will end up creating a pit or hole on the surface. That’s why you need to lift off the tip immediately when you stop.
  • Try to keep your hand steady while burning the leather. Otherwise, a slight shake can demolish the design.
  • Don’t put any extra pressure on the burning pen, especially when you have a thin piece of leather.
  • Try to arrange a temperature-controlled burning kit. It will help you to work comfortably.
  • Don’t use a laser cutter to cut the leather.
  • Use the metal stencils to increase preciseness.
  • Careful to work with the burner, or else you can burn your skin.
  • Don’t make any line with a large angle, or else your leather may get burned.
  • Get help from a tutorial if you are a newbie.

Bottom Line

Leather pyrography is an elegant art to behold. But you will realize the difficulty while performing it yourself.

The brief discussion of how to burn leather-intro to pyrography should be a good Kickstarter for you to learn all the tricks. So, work hard and see the result by yourself. Happy leather crafting!

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