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Vegetable Tanning

Rabbit Furs

Location & Date

No dates scheduled for 2019

Fri, Sat & Sun, 10am- 6pm

Learn the basic, ancient art of tanning animal skins using plant tannins--a method sometimes called vegetable tanning, bark tanning, tannin tanning, or simply tanning. Rabbit skins are one of the most sensitive of fur hides to tan naturally, so by learning the process of transforming a rabbit skin into a fully relaxed, soft and floppy, durable, well-preserved, and wearable leather, you will already have the understanding to begin tanning most other small fur hides, such as possum, squirrel, raccoon, and fox. You will also have the basic understanding to vegetable tan larger hair-off leather, such as deer leather. In this class we’ll be using simple, natural materials, such as salt, leaves, fire, and fat.

The vegetable tanning process takes about a week for rabbits, so in this class the hide you finish to take home with you will not be the same hide you start with. In this way you will be able to do every step of the process hands-on in a condensed two-days. 

** Natural tanning is strongly affected by the weather, your own pace, and other factors. The flow of each day will vary. Some days may end early, while others may require the full 8 hours.

What to bring: Please bring a lunch each day. If you have a non-serrated outdoor knife, go ahead and bring it. If you don’t, there will be extra knives at the workshop. 

​To register, email Victoria at anankth at gmail dot com. Payments are through Paypal. 

This class is limited to 6 participants

Location: Marshall, NC (homestead in the area of Revere)
The address will be emailed to registered participants.

***This class takes place in a rustic homestead community. Bathroom facility is an outhouse, heating is by woodstove, drinking water is spring fed, and there is no electricity. We will be working both indoors and outdoors, so please dress well for outdoor weather! This homestead is an active community of about 6 residents (plus dogs and cats), so daily life will be going on during the time of the workshop. This is a casual atmosphere with what is sometimes the ramshackle disarray of any land project. You will have access to a rustic, open air community kitchen (with propane cook stove) throughout the workshop and if camping. Any questions, please email or call Victoria. ***

Can I bring my own hide?

Please contact Victoria ahead of time if you are interested in bringing a skin to the class (doesn’t have to be a rabbit, could be another small furbearer). If we are not able to tan the hide within the duration of the class, we may be able to help get you started on it. 

Class Topics covered include:

Storing green (fresh) hides
Fleshing green hides
Drying hides
Membraning hides dry and wet
Rehydrating hides
Selecting & harvesting wild plants for tanning
Brewing tannin solutions
Measuring tannins
Tending hides while in solution
Membraning post-tannin hides
Rinsing hides
Sewing holes
Oiling & softening fur hides
Bucking in wood ash to remove the hair from hides (to make hair-off, grain-on leather)

The class will also touch on:

Rendering animal fats to make your own tanning lards
Making your own tools for fur tanning
Long term care of natural leathers (including washing furs)
Obtaining green hides
Tips for tanning in urban areas versus rural/off-grid

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