With highs in the low 30s and lows in the teens, Minnesota is definitely getting ready to welcome Winter. I have to plan my tanning work around the weather, balancing the feeling of rushing for holiday hide sales with how cold I’m willing to be, and taking care of my baby and unrelated small business while my husband works full time.
All this is to say: I haven’t gotten a lot done lately but I’ve done a few things!
The large wooly hide is wet scraped as much as I felt like doing. The shearling, ditto.
Since both were still a bit wet in the wool from pickling, and it was sunny and above freezing yesterday, I decided to wash them up a bit. I used a spray bottle with water and a bit of free-&-clear laundry detergent, and a pet slicker brush, to clean the wool as best I could.
I had to then bring them both into my bathroom and run a small heater and dehumidifier in an effort to get the fiber dry. The shearling is dry and looking just fine; the big one is still quite damp and smells, frankly, like a wet dirty dog. I can’t wait to smoke them. It was too windy today, even if they’d been drier.
I’ve gotten the two tanned shearlings trimmed up well enough, I think. They’re quite naturally different in color; the bottom one in the photo is much cooler toned and more grey than white. They’re ready for smoking (technically one will be a re-smoke). I also ordered a pumice stone to try for some finishing work after seeing another woman who tans sheep using one on Instagram.
And there’s also this: I’ve been looking at the huge sheep, and thinking, thinking, thinking. Let’s remind ourselves what he looks like:
I keep seeing two pelts. The nape area, and then the rest of the body. This is even after I’ve trimmed a bit more off him and he’s been hanging in my bathroom.
I think I’m going to cut the neck area completely away – after smoking and final touches of course – and consider it a cat bed or chair seat cover. It just seems right to me. Even on the wool side it looks right to separate it, as that area of wool is darker and a bit “shabby” looking compared to the rest.
This is where I’m at. There’ll be no more pickling this year as it’s just too cold. Washing is really hard for the same reason. I don’t have money for chimney, and if the wind doesn’t die down this week I won’t be able to smoke anything.
I haven’t heard from my butcher about new sheep or goat pelts lately. I hope that changes soon.
I feel like I keep making plans, step by step, as to what I’m going to do next with each skin, and they’re reminding me that’s really not how this works. There are certain things that have to happen, yes; even a few things that need to be in sequence. But for the most part, what I do with a hide depends on the hide itself and its individual characteristics and needs, and, of course, the weather.
So no more step by step plans to completion. I’m just going to keep working all these hides ’til they’re done.