leather shapes leather shapes



Pyrography — continued

You may be asking yourself, "How do I get started with this burning on leather" You can get started with minimal tools and materials. It doesn't have to cost much in order to enjoy this wonderful craft. I would advise against obtaining very expensive tools until you decide if you like burning. If you have already decided to go ahead and do it, then buy the best tools you can afford. It is always better to use good tools that will last a long time. It is also an incentive to keep working at it, since you won't want to waste the money you have spent. Although these details are for leather, most of the information applies to all forms of pyrography!

There are a great many pyrography machines to choose from and many select one made by 'Janik', but for me the ideal machine is the Peter Child Artists Pyrography Machine (Here). Everything about the machine is robust and conservatively rated. A lot of them are used in schools in England because they withstand abuse, and all parts can easily be replaced if necessary. Some machines out there are 25 years old and still going strong!

The transformer is housed in a strong steel case and is available in 230 volt or 110 volt versions (110 volt versions may look slightly different). The control is robust and reliable and gives constantly variable heat from 0 to 10. The pen can be "parked" safely in a clip when not in use. The pen plugs into 4mm sockets in the front panel and can be quickly interchanged with another pen with a different point. While the warm up time is only three or four seconds.

P. Child pyrography machine


Pyrography machine


Spoon point for shading:- The spoon points are shaped like a tiny teaspoon. The bowl of the spoon can be used for soft shading effects and the edge of the spoon is useful for texturing. They are difficult to make without special equipment but one comes with the machine and replacements are available.

Points for feathering and line work:- These points are made by hammering a loop flat and cutting and filing it to make a small blade shape. They are excellent for producing fine clear lines. They can also be used flat for some shading effects.

Powerpoint:- There is plenty of power in reserve. Using a heavy duty lettering/shading point at maximum output the burning rate can be too much for comfort! However when used sensibly the pen can quickly produce large lettering and patterns. The point shown is made from 23 gauge wire formed into a tiny coil to concentrate the heat. It burns a line 3mm wide at 6mm per second. Wider coils can quickly be made and thicker wire could be used. The coils produce a striped texture. If the coil is filed smooth then no stripes. The heat is enough to "toast" the leather when held a short distance from its surface. This will give a soft shading effect for large areas quickly and uniformly. A thin shim of metal can be used as a mask to shield the heat and give a hard edge to an area of soft shading.

Working with leather:- The pen works extremely well on light coloured (preferably vegetable-tanned) leather but the smell is terrible — keep the windows open and/or get an extractor fan with a carbon filter! Pyrography produces monochrome images reminiscent of the old sepia-coloured photographs of bygone years, with a look similar to pen-and-ink or pencil sketches. What sets Pyrography apart from the mere two dimensional works produced with pen or pencil, is the delicate textures produced when the heat used to draw with subtly alters the characteristics of the drawing surface.

Spoon point for shading

Blade point for feathering

Powerpoint - heavy duty point

Burning on veg-tanned leather

New points for fine detailed work:- These are available from the machine's manufacturer and are made from a new flat section alloy which is strong and rigid. The tip radius is equivalent to that of a fine 26 SWG point so it will do the same thickness of line.

The advantages over the old "fine" 26 SWG round wire points are as follows.

  1. The heavier section metal does not bend or flex so much in use, giving better control.

  2. The temperature is more stable and does not reduce so suddenly when the tip touches wood.

  3. It will run much cooler at the low heat setting - ideal for leather work or slow fine detailed work.

  4. If the point (PP51 only) is turned through 90 it will do a wider line or could be used for shading effects.

  5. PP52 is dual purpose - one side for fine lines or - just flip over for shading.

  6. The tip can easily be modified by rubbing on an abrasive block to give a bigger tip radius to suit your needs.

  7. The flat section wire is much easier to squeeze up with pliers when you make your own points.

  8. The flat section can be easily "rolled up" to make effective "solid" points for shading.

  9. The new alloy is a higher electrical resistance so it takes less current and is kinder to your machine.

illustration showing the new points

showing the old 'fine' points

 the new flat-section alloy points

New, PP51 & PP52 showing comparison

Old 'fine' 26 SWG points

New fine flat-section alloy points

The dual purpose PP52 point is the same as the PP51 but with one side ground away a little at an angle. This gives a better view of the fine tip as you work. It can be polished by rubbing on a sharpening stone to give a rounded surface. It is double-sided — coarse one side for shaping, and fine the other, for polishing. The rounded surface is good for shading effects — just flip the point over for shading or broader lines. You can easily turn a PP51 into a PP52 by rubbing on the shaping and polishing stone, by filing, or grinding.



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leather shapes leather shapes