Yesterday I gave the two wooly skins a final brush out and pick through, and called them finished.
The sheepskin that started out this process “brittle” just isn’t quite up to my standards – towards the bottom of the hide, the hind leg area, the leather is still too brittle for my liking. It’s a fine hide for a seat cover or small rug, but I’m not going to offer it for sale because it just doesn’t represent my best and desired result.
It’s not as dramatic to the eye as these pictures show, but you can tell by the color shift where the lower quality leather starts.
The other skin, which I’ve taken to calling big and creamy, turned out quite nice. I would wear it close to my skin, which is how I want to feel about my tanned hides. It’s listed for sale through my Etsy shop.
The shearling hide is also basically done; I’m doing some extra nit-picky softening and removing what’s left of the membrane because I think I want to make some mittens out of it.
Results of finishing the 2018 skins, round 1
I’ve relearned and learned some things. Like don’t leave your dressed leather in the sun for long periods without working on it. Like that alum really is my best friend when I’m doing big batches of skins and need to borrow time. Like how important getting the membrane off really is.
I feel I have a much better plan moving forward. Speaking of which – what’s next?
I have 3 wooly sheepskins still sitting dried from salt and alum. One at a time, I plan to dry scrape and membrane them really well, then rehydrate in a salt water bath. I’m not going to make decisions based on where I think I left off tanning this time – I’m just going to go through all the steps of my process as though I had just fleshed and salted them. So after rehydration, they’ll get a tanning dressing, softened, and smoked.
I also have 2 dried shearlings left that will get the same treatment.
Additionally I want to experiment with vegetable tanning, AKA bark tanning. I have scraps from the skins I just processed that I can play with. More on that later.
And finally, I just can’t give up on the brittle one. I mean, look at the wool!
I want to try rehydration again, and dress it again. And soften it again. Yeah, it’s a bit masochistic perhaps, but I just can’t help myself. I mean, what if it works and it comes out garment-quality? Either way, I’ll learn more.
Happy fall ya’ll- and happy beginning of the season when I can take and tan roadkill.