Brittle

How it started:

How it’s going:

Ew. I really didn’t want to have to do this, but I’ve got to start getting these hides clean and I’m racing against the change of seasons. It’s already well below freezing at night now, so I can’t soak them outside. And soon, it won’t get above freezing during the day, so I’ll have nowhere to dry them.

The sheepskin in my bathtub is the one I coated with my tanning dressing last night – the crispy, brittle one. I reapplied it during the day today (sorry I didn’t get to take pictures; I have to steal moments for this kind of stuff because I have a 4-month-old).

The dressing didn’t save the hide. Not all of it, anyway. The edges are too brittle in places, and even with rehydration and using a blunt tool, I tore right through in a few spots while trying to break it. I think I’ll have to lose the right hind leg, both side pieces, and most of the nape, plus all edges. It’s a shame – I took off the legs and shaped this hide pretty perfectly.

This is what happens if you tan a skin but don’t break it. You can’t just slap brains or soap mixture or eggs (or store bought, commercial tanning bullshit) on a skin and call it tanned. You have to force the skin into being leather. It takes work.

So, in light of this setback, and the weather closing in on me, the plan now is to wash and dry each skin, and get a coat of soap & oil on them before they dry. I’ll have to work quickly and do a little each day.

Washing them in my bathtub isn’t ideal, but at least I can still dry them outside.

Not my favorite day of tanning. It’s disappointing when the tan doesn’t go right, especially, for me anyway, when the skin becomes brittle and you can’t do anything with it but rip it. But, for everything that doesn’t go right I learn more. I try to remember that I have the luxury of modernity and can afford to make mistakes with resources like this. Our ancestors couldn’t.

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