Can you do pyrography on glass surface ? | Pyrogravure

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Written by Jared Watson

Jarred Watson is a pyrographer with 10+ years experience and has worked with brands like BOSCH & FORD. He is always looking to learn and share his passion of wood burning with others.

Pyrography is the art of burning designs on wooden surfaces with heated tools. Though this art can be used in many other mediums, people often wonder if it can be practiced on glass. This article mainly focuses on providing information to the readers about whether glass can be used for pyrography and the various suitable mediums on which pyrography can be practiced, as people are not well-aware of the different surfaces appropriate for pyrography.  

Can You Use a Wood Burning Tool on Glass?

Once one has mastered pyrography on wooden surfaces, one often wants to explore new mediums for art. Though, a wood-burning tool cannot be used for doing pyrography on a glass surface. Now one can wonder why a wood-burning tool cannot be used on a glass surface. To understand that, one has to understand the working of a wood-burning tool and the chemistry of glass. 

A wood burning tool is essentially designed to burn designs on the wooden surface, as a result of which a wood burning tool has temperature settings that are appropriate for drawing patterns on wooden surfaces. The nibs of the wood-burning tool are made of such materials and in such a shape that facilitates etching images and patterns on the wooden surface.

It is important to understand a wood-burning tool can be only used to etch designs on surfaces that can be burned. 

Glass is made by melting raw materials such as sand, limestone, soda ash, etc., at high temperatures. The melted raw material is then structurally manipulated into different items. Now, if one tries to burn designs on a glass surface, one is most likely to fail as glass does not burn; it melts or cracks when it comes in contact with heat or fire. 

 As glass is made by melting natural raw materials at very high temperatures, melting a glass item requires very high temperatures. The average melting point of glass that is mostly made of silica sand is 2552 to 2912 degrees Fahrenheit. Such high temperatures can only be reached in industrial settings.

At the same time, a wood-burning tool can reach a maximum temperature of 574 to 950 degrees Fahrenheit which is not even close to the temperature that is required for melting glass. The temperature for melting glass also depends on the composition of the glass, which has varied accordingly. 

It must be noted that attempting to do pyrography on a glass surface with a wood-burning tool can result in health hazards as well as other accidents. Different glasses have different compositions. Glasses such as acrylic glass, plexiglass, etc., are made of harmful and toxic chemicals. If such types of glasses come in contact with the heat, the smoke produced might contain these toxic chemicals, which, if inhaled, can cause serious respiratory problems. 

As we know that glass does not burn it melts, which requires a high temperature. This only happens when the heat is provided evenly and at a steady pace. If the heat is applied unevenly and quickly, the glass will crack, which can injure the one heating the glass. 

If one wants to do something creative with glass, one can go for acids that are made to melt glass, though one has to be careful while using the acids and needs to take proper precautions like wearing the correct protective gear. A rotary grinding tool can also be used. However, such tools are very expensive and cannot be used at a home-based workstation. 

 There are several types of chemicals available in the market that can be used for the purpose of etching designs on a glass surface. Such chemicals can be easily found in any local hardware shop and also come at a reasonable price. Another method that can be used when one wants to achieve a burned finish is by using glass paint. 

Using brown shades of glass paint to draw the patterns will help in getting a burned look. One can also start by painting the surface of the glass in a woodgrain fashion, and then once the paint dries off completely, start etching the designs with black or brownish shades. 

While using glass paint, it is important to check out the label of the glass paint as there are various types of glass paint available in the market that require different types of surface conditioners and prep. At the same time, some need to be glazed and baked after painting. Also, if the glass paint is going to be used for decorating a bowl or any other item that will be used for containing food, it is important to get glass paint that comes with food safety.  

On What Surfaces Can You Use Your Wood Burning Tool?

    • Wood

Pyrography is mostly practiced on wooden surfaces. There are some types of woods that are more suitable for pyrography, like light-coloured softwoods with little grain, as it allows the design to pop.   

    • Paper

Paper pyrography, although aesthetically pleasing, requires a gentler approach. Hot-pressed papers are preferred as it is smoother. The thickness of the paper used depends on the effect wanted and the experience of the artist.   

    • Leather

Leather is very versatile and allows you to draw smoothly. Vegetable-tanned[1], pale, smooth leather is preferable. Though, as it burns, it might emit a foul smell, and finding good-quality leather can be expensive. 

    • Gourds

Gourds are thicker than wood and burn dirt. Therefore, for etching designs on gourds, a sharp nib needs to be used, which should be cleaned as the work proceeds. One can experiment with various textures.     

    • Tagua

Tagua[2] is very hard in nature, which makes it very challenging to do pyrography on it. Due to its high oil content and tar-like substance production, it makes subjects, like fur, look realistic.  

    • Bark

The bark of trees is relatively softer, which makes it hard for lines to hold their edge, which gives it a romantic effect though doing detailed work might be challenging.  

    • Animal Horns, Antlers, Teeth

These are rather unusual materials for pyrography. Antlers and horns are often burned to decorate them, which are then used as jewelry pieces or home decorating pieces. 

    • Ivory and Bone

It is illegal to trade African or Indian elephant ivory. Burning ivory and bone requires a red-hot nib to crack it. When used for longer periods, it must be burned in short bursts. 

    • Cork

Cork has a bumpy and softer texture which restricts detailed burning. Natural cork which has not been treated with any chemicals should be used. One should make simpler designs when using cork.   

    • Tree Fungus

It is generally found at the base of a tree trunk or dead stump, with a hard and brown upper part, but the lower part is soft and creamy white and is burned.


A pyrography tool cannot be used for etching designs on the glass as glass does not burn and requires a very high temperature to melt. Acids, rotary grinding, and glass paint can be used for etching designs on glass. Glass paint is essentially useful in achieving a burned look. The article also mentions and discusses the different mediums which can be used for practicing wood burning     


  1. Bestleather. (2020, February 19). What is vegetable tanned leather? –

  2. What is Tagua? (n.d.). Treats Designs.

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