An easy way to get started with leather pyrography art journals is to purchase several scrap bag assortments of leather. This gives you a variety of leather to begin exploring leather burning. No piece is so perfect that you can’t just throw away a ‘mistake’ or cut it down to become a smaller cover. The textures, distortions, and flaws add to the vintage look of your journal when everything is done.
This sample 5 lb. scrap bag from Springfield leather, listed on Amazon.com, is packed with vegetable-dyed pieces that measure from hand-size up to 1 square foot – perfect sizes for our journal covers. A 4-6 square foot vegetable-dyed double shoulder piece of leather from the same company runs about $35. Springfield’s SLC’s Journal Makers Bundle of tanned and dyed leather gives your a wide variety of choices for back covers, and leather journal inserts.
But you will note when you follow the links above that both packs have irregular edges, some clamp marks and stretch marks, and even a few wrinkles … which makes them even better when you are designing your Leather Pyrography Art Journal. Those pulls, stretch marks and little oddities in the leather surface give your journal cover a wonderful distressed, vintage look.
In the Mayan Leather Journal photo, above, you can see those stretch marks along the right side top and bottom corner.
I chose the Mayan design specifically for this scrap of leather. As Mayan hieroglyphs were worked as stone carvings they did not have crisp, clean, sharp edges to the design. As time, nature, and weather have eroded those same writings the edges have become more distorted. So what could be more perfect than a stone carving design on a wrinkled piece of leather. Those wrinkles give the feeling of the rock face in which the Mayan’s created their architecture.
When you add that as you wood burn your leather you also lightly sculpture the leather surface, our Mayan Priest becomes a 3-d rendition of the pattern. You can see along the left side of the cover how the burn pushes the leather down, leaving the un-burned or lightly burned areas proud of the surface.
Several light coats of a gloss acrylic spray sealer accents the 3-d effect of the leather and design by creating bright highlights along the edges of the pattern work.
This journal sample uses both an edge piece of a vegetable-dyed shoulder and a scrap piece of dark mahogany tanned leather for the back cover – one piece from both of the scrap packages above. Since the mahogany tanned leather is of a higher weight (thicker) than the veggie leather cover, I used my smallest v-gouge wood carving tool to create a simple checker board design directly into the back cover. Those gouge marks let that leather roll more easily as I use the journal. A third piece of scrap leather became the binding edge of the journal where the screw posts join all the leather pieces and hold the inside paper pages.