It’s 4:45 pm. I walk out my front door. The snow that fell the other day is a slushy wet mess, and I don’t have the heart for winter boots just yet, so my hiking shoes are damp already. I walk 100 feet to my garage and into my workshop. It isn’t warm. It’s less than 40 degrees, and I have to give myself a little pep talk to start this work as the sun is setting.

Laced and framed sheepskin

I got the big, wet sheep on a makeshift frame this evening. It’s not the best lace job, and I completely forgot the very bottom (will fix tomorrow). At least the fleece will have a shot at drying.

I use a wood awl, a leather needle, and some basic natural twine. I should use nylon or something more durable. I used to use baling twine, but I seem to have managed to use it all up/throw it away (surely I’m the first?).

I started to scrape this skin. Seems there’s always more membrane to be removed. I don’t typically wet scrape like this. I prefer to scrape while I stretch by hand. Maybe when I get better at lacing and framing hides I’ll enjoy wet scraping more.

What membrane I don’t remove now, I’ll scrape off when it’s dry during finishing.

The deerskin that I’m custom tanning was still wet under its salt today. I added more after letting the pooled liquid run off. When it’s dry, I’ll membrane it and get a tanning dressing on.

I selected the next sheepskin I want to work on and hung it from my beam so I remember that I want to scrape it first chance I get. Priorities. It’s hard for me to wait during the waiting steps; I just want to keep going, but that’s how I can end up halfway through tanning 8 hides and done with none of them. I’ve got to prioritize and try to stick to a plan.

Get the big skin dry. Hand stretch the shearling. Scrape and tan the little deer, then stretch and dry it. Smoke all three. Maybe a fourth if I get the other sheep tanned in time. But also slow down. Do it right. Do it thoughtfully. Learn each hide – they aren’t the same. Do this work with respect. Let it mean something.

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