Deer & Fish on Leather Pyrography Artwork wood burning

I became obsessed with burning on leather this last fall and the images above, deer and fish, are my latest attempt.  I have been crafting simple leather projects and then burning designs onto them.  This project was supposed to be a credit card holder, but my design didn’t work out.  Instead of completely wasting the leather, I decided to burn a couple of simple images on the holder as I needed the experience.  As I already knew this project wasn’t a keeper, I decided to burn images that I’m pretty familiar with since I did a lot of them on cribbage boards; a deer & a fish.  This blog is going to talk about the deer and fish artwork I created on leather.

Transferring an image to leather works just like it does wood in that I coat the back of the image, place on the leather, and then trace the design.  I did discover that it’s important to keep the hand pressure pretty light as the leather embosses very easily.







Burning the trace lines went well and was probably a touch easier than wood since the leather is so much softer.








I started rendering the fur with my normal zigzag burst, and, since I wasn’t burning very dark, this actually went pretty well.  I did notice that it was easier to burn in some directions versus others.  What I don’t know, as I’m too unfamiliar with leather, if it was easier when I was burning with or against the grain line.  Yes, leather has grain line or growth direction; not sure what the proper terminology is here.






In this photo I’m continuing to work on the fur on the body and I like how the fur is looking.





The face was challenging as the area was so small and I was still learning the proper heat setting to get the color I wanted.








I had to switch to the writing pen tip for the eye, nose, and mouth because the area I’m working in is really small. 






In fact, a good portion of the facial features were done with the writing pen tip.









With the antlers I was able to use the micro shader which I thought was easier to use on leather than the writing pen tip.








In this photo I’m continuing to work on coloring and adding texture to the antlers.









Working on the ears.









Fine tuning the fur on the body. 

Now I will admit that this artwork did not turn out very well as the face looks off.  Part of the problem was that I didn’t try real hard as I just testing out the different techniques I use to create fur.  Another contributing factor is that I haven’t done much burning on leather.






Here’s a photo of the final deer artwork. 









The fish, on the other hand, turned out well, at least I thought so.  Granted it is a more simplistic image compared to the deer.  In this photo I’m burning in the trace lines.





In this photo I’m using the razor edge of the shader to draw in the lines on the tail.






Next I defined the upper edges of the fish and I’m currently working on the mouth.







Coloring the body of the fish went very smoothly.  This style of pen stroke was very easy to do on leather and the direction didn’t seem to matter.  I think a large part of that was due to the fact that I wasn’t burning darkly, so the heat setting was pretty low.







Continued work on the body.







Coloring the face.







Continued work on the face.






In this photo I’m adding the final touches to the fins. 






I switched to the writing pen tip to add all of the spots (dots) on the fish.






Here’s a photo showing how I went overboard with the larger darker spots.  I really disliked how dark they were.  What I should have done was had a piece of scrap leather nearby to test out the pen heat.





If nothing else, It gave me an opportunity to try and fix the mistake.  I used the tip of my X-acto knife to very gently scrape away some of the coloring on the larger spots.




Below is the before / after photo side-by-side to compare my repair job. 

Before / After fixing


Here’s a photo of the final fish artwork.








Even though the credit card holder design didn’t work out, I at least learned a lot during my test burning.  The artwork definitely turned out a LOT better than either of my previous leather burning attempts, so my skills with leather burning are improving.    Like all things, with practice I will continue to get better. 

Lastly to answer a few commonly asked questions.   The artwork measures 3 1/2 x 2 5/8 inches (8.9 x 6.7 cm), was burned on leather.  The deer took me 1 1/4 hours and the fish took 3/4 hours to complete them.

Until the next blog,


Dec 29, 2017

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