Most of the tools used to burn images into leather are the same as are used to burn images into wood. This craft process is called pyrography. These tools are electrically heated to burn the leather. The image is drawn onto the leather with a pen or with a marking tool and then traced with the burning tool chosen.
The stylus is a tool that looks like a large pen with a cord coming out of the end and plugs into an electric outlet. The grip is made of a material that will not conduct heat. Cork and rubber are the usual materials used to make the grip. One hand holds the grip of the stylus while the other holds the leather. The stylus easily traces the picture drawn on the leather beforehand.
The metal tip of the stylus, where the current of electricity is conducted into heat, is called a nib. The nib can be changed to make a different type of burn on the leather. The broader nibs are used for making thicker lines and the thinner nibs create thinner lines. Some nibs have shapes such as stars or moons that are burned into the leather. Due to the large range of sizes and types of nibs, they are purchased separately from the stylus.
When burning an image into leather, it is easiest to trace a pattern or picture. Using a marking tool to create the image helps in this process. Chalk or a pen is used to draw an image, if the artist is capable of freehand art, or a piece of tracing paper that has the image is put on top of the leather and traced with a pen or a sharp tool. The key to choosing a marking tool is making sure it does not stain the leather or burn in the process.
Though the stylus allows for a free hand to hold the leather in place, it is best to hold the leather down with something more permanent. If the leather is thin and will be sewn together with another piece of cloth, use pins to attach the leather to the work area. Place the pins in the corners, pulling the leather tight. A round needlepoint loom can also hold the leather in place as it does the cloth for needlework. However, make sure the loom is metal so it does not melt if the stylus touches it.
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