Pyrography Leather Journal

Leather Artists Journal, Basic Wood Burning Steps

When I worked the pattern drawing for this feathered griffin I wanted a strong feeling of art deco in the design. The long flowing feathers and scrolls reach out to the top and bottom of the design and are balanced by the fine scales work around the face and throat. Art deco boldly uses outlining as a way to separate one area from another. Often, as seen in old magazine advertising; each area is then floated with a solid color.

To work this pattern as an art deco piece I started by cutting two pieces of distressed leather 6 ¼” x 11” as my work media.

Begin by printing two copies of each pattern.

feather dragon edge woodburning patternfree pyrography pattern by Lora Irish
Please click on the images above for a full-sized
printable free pyrography pattern by L S Irish


wood burned griffin exampleStep 1: PATTERN TRACING

Rub the back of the pattern paper with a soft paper then place the pattern on the top surface of your leather. Trace over the pattern lines using an ink pen. Remove the pattern paper from your leather and with the soft pencil strengthen any lines that are pale or hard to see.


I began my burning using a standard writing tip on a low temperature setting, approximately. 3 ½ to 4, to burn the outline of each traced pattern line in a pale sienna tone. As I have chosen to use this burning as the front cover of an artist’s sketch book the outlining of the pattern will help the finished burning to remain strong as the cover naturally picks up hand oil and dirt from use.

Both the tracings steps and all of the pyrography steps will indent the leather surface. This is a natural tendency for this media. As you work this outlining step it is important to keep the tool tip in the indent line left from the tracing process to avoid a ‘double exposure’ effect along any line when the pencil tracing is erased.

wood burned griffin color exampleStep 3: MID-TEMPERATURE SHADING

The early or first layers of shading have been worked using both the standard writing tip and the small spoon shader on a low temperature setting of 3 ½ to 4. The shading has been worked over the outlining to tone an area or grouping of feathers, not individual feathers. The outlining done in the previous step let’s you do large area shading without losing your pattern tracing for the finer details or elements.

Bold, solid color areas of accents are an important part of art deco. Softly shaded groups of elements with fine pen and ink detailing will be complimented with large blocks of strong color. For this griffin the beads that lie upon the feather shafts were burned at a hot temperature of 7 to 8 to add those solid, string accents.

Using your shader tip – spoon or large square – work a layer of medium value shading along the upper eye lid, the nostril ridges and along the side of the face behind the small mouth feathers.

Still using the shader and grouping the feathers according to their shape and position surrounding the face, work a wide shadow along the joint line of the lower grouping. As an example the area on the side of the Griffin’s face has a group on low lying feathers on the left side, a group of longer feathers that curl under the beak in the middle area, and a third group of small feathers adjacent to the mouth.

griffon dragon pyrography by IrishIn the longest feathers in the head dress and below the chin, work a layer of shading that starts next to the face and pulls away from that point. Treat each of these feathers individually.

Shade the upper edge of the eye ball with a medium-pale burn, use a texture stroke as a tightly packed random doodle to fill the iris, leaving the eye highlight un-burned.

On a medium-high setting fill the feather beads, nostril and eye iris with a solid fill packed dot pattern.



pyrography project by Lora IrishFor the third layer of burning I have turned up the temperature setting to between 4 and 5 to work in deep sienna and dark brown tones. Each feather has now been shaded as an individual element of the design.

The darkest areas of shading of this burning fall in the group of small feathers behind the eye ring feathers, below the lower beak in the both ring of neck feathers and at the top of the long neck feathers. An area of darkness is created beneath the eye ring feathers where the face joins the corner of the beak.

I have decided that I want to add some small areas of solid coloring to this design when the burning is completed. The large flowing feathers at the top and bottom of the design seem the perfect area for coloring so I have done just a small amount of shading work. Because I will be using acrylic paints on leather any fine detailing in these areas will be lost to the paint.

shading your pyrography by Lora IrishThis second layer of shading is created using tightly packed fine lines that flow in the direction of each feather. The outer edges of the beak are worked in a tight random doodle stroke and the eye area has been re-burned at a hotter temperature to darken the detail lines.




detailing a pyrography patternFor the fourth layer of burning I have turned up the temperature setting to 5 to work in deep brown tones.

A third layer of shading has been worked along the joint edges of each original grouping of feathers to insure this area in each group is the darkest value in that area.

Using my spoon shader at a temp setting of 5 I have added one long line shadow along each of the individual feather units in the long feathers.





cp113_150Try our Mayan, Inca, Aztec Warriors patterns with this free online pyrography project by Lora Irish.

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