Pyrography that Hits Home – Egyptian traveller’s leather notebook

With this pyrography leather burn Chris Barrett of AltGuild brought me in to help with a special traveller’s notebook, one, that would illustrate the owners’ travels and her homeland as well. After some initial dialogue we went back and forth on the concepts and came up with a design that we were sure would be appreciated by the client.

I utilized a deep burn technique for objects close by coupled with a light line technique for background objects. A purposely blurry burn was used to simulate the passport stamps. The hardest part of this piece was the sphinx – both in the details of the face and the texture. The face is broken, obviously, which didn’t appear like a face from the angle I needed it to be, so that took a few sketches to iron out. And the texture of the stone is sand like, with many ridges as it was built from – well, sand bricks, which led to much experimentation in texture techniques to get it just right.

After it was done, but prior to the buffering and natural dye stage, we realized that it still lacked perspective depth. I had gone too sparse in the design and it felt empty so additional land and sky detail was added along with some camel silhouettes to give a feeling of size as well as distance that the deserts of Egypt should evoke. It’s small details that wouldn’t be realized unless it was a collaborative work – having trusted input is what really brings a piece to the next level.

Here’s what the client had to say about her AltGuild original traveller’s notebook:

I came home from work tonight, and my notebook was here waiting for me. I actually opened it with my eyes closed so I would be completely surprised. Thank you so very much for sharing your gifts and talents. I can’t begin to tell you how much this notebook means to me. Looking at it makes me think of my beloved homeland. Please know that your work is heart-healing work. Holding it in my hands brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.

Below are the progress and final result photos of this wonderful pyrography project that I was lucky to be a part of with Chris Barrett.

Leather Pyrography master class
First rough composition sketch. For notebooks I do up compositions in a book and then fold it back so I can see if the piece will stand alone on each side as well as a whole with both sides visible.
Leather Pyrography master class
Changed the direction and perspective of the sphinx in this preliminary sketch.
Leather Pyrography master class
First stages of layering on the textures, sandstone in shadows and the pyramids in the distance.
Leather Pyrography master class
Deep shadows done as well as the only hard lined object, the DC-3 plane. Next up some sand dunes, clouds and camels. And, of course, more shading!
artisan pyrpgraphy leather burning egypt
And here’s the final product with elastic strapping, buffed, polished, and brass eyelets in place.

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