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Introduction to the Art of Ancient Hide Tanning

A 1-day workshop

Saturday, March 21

10am- 5pm

OHerbals Apothecary, Baltimore MD

Workshop description:

Curious about natural tanning but don't even know where to begin?

This cozy workshop is an introduction and overview of the methods and styles of natural hide tanning as practiced by our ancestors the world over. 

The workshop will focus upon understanding tannins, and the process of tanning hides with barks and leaves, which is sometimes called vegetable tanning, or bark tanning. We'll also discuss brain tanning. You'll get to see, touch, & smell samples of leathers and furs from many species of animals tanned in different ways, including braintanned buckskin, braintanned furs, vegetable tanned grain-on leather, vegetable tanned furs, vegetable tanned suede, half-tan, and rawhide. 

Most of this workshop will be lecture and Q & A indoors, interspaced by demonstration and practice of the steps of vegetable tanning hair-off, grain-on leather using squirrels. Those wishing to try some of the steps hands-on will have the chance to take turns practicing skinning, membraning, & softening a squirrel hide. 

Topics discussed will include:

Tanning as a heart-based alchemical art

Why natural tanning?

Sourcing skins in today's world

Understanding tannins

The layers & structure of skin

The art of skinning

Tannic plants

Bucking hides in wood ash to remove hair

The vegetable tanning process

Natural fats & softening hides

Braintanning & combination tanning

Tools of the natural tanner

Qualities of hides from animal species common to the Mid Atlantic & Southeast

Natural leather care & lifespan


You can expect to come away from this class with enough information to try starting some vegetable tanning at home, & hopefully with a context for which methods, styles, and approaches to tanning call to you the most, which you may like to pursue in more depth in the future.

* If you are immuno-compromised & are interested in coming to this class, please let the instructor know ahead of time. Because any hands-on components of this workshop are optional, you can observe without touching or handling any raw skins or dead animals. However those materials will still be in your vicinity. 

Register for the workshop:

To register for this workshop email

Registration is $60 per person, and can be made by PayPal, check, or cash. Payment must be made ahead of the class to confirm your spot. 

Space for this workshop is limited to 6 students.


What to bring:

Please bring a food dish for a potluck lunch.

You may also wish to bring a notebook and/or camera for note taking. 

About the Venue:

OHerbals Apothecary is a private healing space located in Upper Fells Point, near Patterson Park. The apothecary is fairly small, so expect the living room/classroom space to be cozy! We'll also be using a small outdoor garden space for some parts of the workshop. So dress in layers prepared to be going back and forth a little bit from inside to outside.   

OHerbals Apothecary Baltimore Maryland
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