Creamy White & Wooly

It’s raining, 40*, and the sun went down at 6:30. So naturally I actually had time for hide work!

I dragged one of the 2019 wooly skins into the front room of my house; it’s the least nice room and unfinished, so I feel justified doing weird and dirty projects in there.

This skin is large, the wool thick and long and creamy. The dried blood in the nape has long oxidized to purple. It still smells exactly like one of my sheep, and I’m hit with a pang of nostalgia as I think about my empty barn, which now houses only a riding mower and, probably, mice.

Since the world only spins forward, I focus on the work in front of me. Right. The wool is filthy, there’s still salt stuck to the skin, and though I’ve tawed this hide, I can see that I did a half-ass job fleshing it. Maybe I was crunched for time, maybe I was exhausted. I can’t remember, but either way I’m going to have to finish fleshing this thing before I can wash it.

Fleshing is removing the flesh and fat that’s still attached to the skin after skinning. It’ll rot the hide if not removed. Well – it would have, if I hadn’t tawed it with salt and alum. I’ve found that alum forgives a multitude of tanning sins.

What I accomplished tonight was just brushing out the wool. It’s too dark out to work on fleshing outside, plus it’s raining. And that’s not something I’m willing to do in the house with an infant.

So here’s where I’m at in the process with this big wooly:

  1. Finish fleshing, possibly including putting a soap and oil dressing on so that it’s soft enough to work
  2. Wash wool
  3. Dress with soap and oil
  4. Stretch and break
  5. Smoke! Done!

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