Hide Tanning

Our flesh and the flesh of the animals is the same. By them do we live and with them will we fall. Sacred hide tanning traditions bring us closer to the animals and to the life within all things. 

Local skins from domestically raised animals, roadkill, & hunting, pulled by hand, scraped with simple hand tools, and tanned using locally harvested leaves & barks, wood ash, eggs, brains, smoke, locally rendered fats, vegetable oils, water, & salt.

 

Introduction to the Art of Ancient Hide Tanning

This 1-day workshop is an overview of the methods of natural tanning, & an introduction to the steps of the vegetable tanning process. Touch & smell some natural leathers & try some steps hands-on with squirrels.

Vegetable Tanning Rabbit Furs

This 3-day class is an introduction to the vegetable tanning method (also called bark tanning or tannin tanning) on small furs. This method creates supple, floppy, fragrant, and long lasting fur hides.

Hide Tanning Group Apprenticeship

A 6-month, small-group learning format of an apprenticeship style, where students receive instruction on their self-directed hide projects & incorporate natural tanning into their lives & homes.

Roadkill Wise

This two part, 1-day workshop answers all your questions about collecting, skinning, & butchering roadkilled animals. A great introduction to skinning for hide tanning, and to the art of meat aging & preservation.

Primitive Bone Tool Making

Learn how to make lasting, beautiful, & useful tools from deer bones using your hands, a rock, water, and plants. And learn about the all incredible awl! Make 1 or 2 projects to take home in this half-day workshop.

Fat Rendering

Render a pile of animal fat in the old way, meaning with a group of hands and hearts in the kitchen all day. You'll go home with jars of finished lard or tallow, & a handmade tallow candle with a wild plant fiber wick. 

About Victoria/ Lyrra's tanning practice:

Lyrra began her journey of natural tanning by brain tanning buckskins, mainly thanks to good books like Deerskins Into Buckskins by Matt Richards, and The Ancient Art of Braintanning by Stephen Edholm & Tamara Wilder. Since then she has expanded into a multifaceted tanner, focusing on a broad range of animals specific to the Southeastern region, dozens of local tannic plant species, many local animal fats, and numerous methods of processing skins, such as for hair-on leather, hair-off grain-on leather, suede, buckskin, and rawhide. She uses both the vegetable tanning and brain tanning methods.

Lyrra believes in localizing the art of tanning to each specific bioregion, with sensitive attention to the ecology, water cycles, animal species, & plant life to determine the most sensible methods of hide processing for that area. She believes that small scale, especially home-scale tanning, when integrated into the landscape, can not only cease to pollute, but inherently enrich the fertility of the land, while connecting humans deeply to the animal, plant, & water life that viscerally & spiritually sustains them.

 

Lyrra also works with animal hair for spinning and fiber arts, as well as bone and sinew in the creation of her garments. The animals she works with most include white tail deer, domestic rabbit, raccoon, possum, grey squirrel, fox, coyote, cottontail rabbit, chipmunk, groundhog, snake, and fish. Her greatest tanning plant companion is winged sumac, Rhus copallinum

 

She maintains that no chemically tanned leather can ever improve on the strength, long lifespan, beauty, structural & ethical integrity, fragrance, diversity, honesty, and spiritual aliveness of natural tanned hides.  

Lyrra both teaches & writes about tanning.