This wallet was quite a project! A man contacted me wanting a really special gift for his wife on Christmas morning.
She had been very close to her grandmother, who passed away a year ago, so he thought a hand-burned portrait on a leather checkbook cover or wallet would be just the thing!
He texted me a couple of different photos to choose from, and we settled on the one below. I then began the search for a vegetable-tanned leather checkbook cover or wallet that would work. Pyrography can only be done on vegetable-tanned leather because it is untreated and won’t release toxic fumes but will take all of the varied tones required for shading a portrait. Because he didn’t contact me until December 10th and wanted this in time for Christmas giving on the 25th, I knew we would be pressing it for time and availability. I found this one on Amazon. It is minimalistic, but he said he wanted a checkbook cover, and there are very few makers of handcrafted, vegetable-tanned leather goods selling their products on Amazon. Especially available on short notice.
He wasn’t thrilled with the simple design, saying she needed more space for credit cards and other items. So, we continued searching for real leather wallets that would also arrive in enough time, before Christmas, for me to get the burning done and delivered.
We settled on one that I told him I wasn’t sure would work since I had never worked on this type of leather before, but I was willing to give it a try. Per his request, I ordered the larger wallet, and long story short, ya, no. It did NOT take the art transfer or burn AT ALL. It, more or less, just melted when the heat was applied.
Back to the Drawing Board
I told him I knew the vegetable-tanned leather wallet would work. So, we agreed that I should go ahead and order it. In the end, I just ate the cost of the first wallet since it didn’t work out.
Once the wallet made from vegetable-tanned leather arrived, I was excited, because it took the art transfer beautifully! And I knew it would burn reliably. So, I jumped in, with only a few days to spare before Christmas.
And he loved the results! I even ordered a couple of separate, plastic, multi-slot credit card holders for the inside (at no cost to my client) to offer more functionality for his wife.
This wallet was an intense project with a short time-frame for completion. But I’m delighted with the way it turned out! I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Here are photos of how the project progressed –
And here is another Portrait Burned On Leather you might enjoy!