3:30 pm

Progress on sheepskins today! I scraped the shearling that I’d recently pickled. It was mostly done already, but I got some membrane off.

I also stretched it a bit over my beam because it’s stretched unevenly, which I’ve noticed seems to happen easily with lamb skin. Then I got a tanning dressing on it. I used my trusty soap, water, and neatsfoot oil solution.

When I apply the tanning dressing, I spoon it on first to try to control it. I don’t like it running off the edges and sinking into the hair/wool if I can avoid it. (If you’re a real stickler for that, then make the dressing with less water so that it’ll have a more gel-like consistency when it cools.) Then I rub it in with my hands.

I scraped the large hide that I had pickled as well. It’s still soaking wet and not likely to get any drier until I get it on a frame, so I applied the tanning dressing to it.

It’s a bit oddly shaped. The edges of it were actually nibbled on by rodents; this happened because I hadn’t fleshed it fully before curing and storing it in my garage for, oh, years. Rodents will apparently eat salt-cured sheep fat, and happily. I don’t usually trim hides until I’m done stretching them, but I made an exception here and cut off a couple parts that were just silly.

These two hides will sit with their dressing for at least 24 hours.

I’ll hand-stretch the shearling, but the full-fleeced hide will have to go on a frame; it’s the only way I can imagine the wool will dry. It’s just so wet still, and not going to dry easily in this freezing, snowy weather we’ve been gifted.

I need to get the woodstove set up in my shop, but I also need to buy a couple pieces of chimney pipe and I’m quite broke at the moment (life, etc.) so it’ll have to wait!

I’m very grateful to have sold two sheepskins recently, and to have the potential for some paid custom tanning in my near future.

My “micro tannery”

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