Turkey day

5:30pm, 21*F

Recognized holidays mean my guy has off from work, which means I get some much deserved time off from baby care and can get in some serious hide work.

I’m sore. My hands were freezing even in my enclosed workshop. But I’m satisfied.

I worked the sheepskin on my beam, scraping membrane and breaking leather with my ulu knife and hands. It’s just about done. Next time I work it, it’ll be ready for smoking. I’m happy with it.

It’s still just slightly un-dry down the center line. That’s where the skin is thickest and typically, in my experience, is the last to break and soften. I’m still planning to separate it into two pelts; still feeling really good about that, like it’s kind of shown me its best use.

I worked on the deerskin that I’m custom tanning. It’s been drying under salt and by today it was truly dry – stiff and crispy.

I carefully scraped off the rest of the salt. In this dry state before tanning it can be pretty easy to cut through or tear a skin. I also used my new pumice tool to remove a lot of membrane and thin the neck area a bit. I think the pumice did pretty well, however, it got really eaten up.

After I was satisfied with the dry membraning I did a cursory cleaning of the deer hair with a spray bottle of detergent water and a pet brush. There was some blood still to be dealt with in the fur.

Then I made more tanning dressing and rubbed it into the deerskin!

You’ll notice the skin is still bloody-pink in places. I’m honestly not sure why that is. If it’s possibly stained due to the way it was handled before it came to me. When the skin was dry it appeared white, but reverted back to pink when it got wet with the tanning solution. So I’m hoping that once fully tanned it’ll be white again.

It was cold today so I applied the dressing hotter than usual. After running it in really thoroughly, I folded the hide in half lengthwise, and then rolled it up butt-to-neck.

After the deer I had some tanning dressing left, so decided to check out my other sheepskins. I picked this one for a quick scrape on the beam.

The sheepskin on the beam in the above photo is the one I’m talking about. The cold zapped my phone battery so I didn’t get to take any more pictures.

That sheep hide scraped up nicely. I decided to work smarter not harder and cut off the blood stained nape and dangling, dirty edge bits before tanning. I’m learning not to try to save so much at the expense of so much time.

I scraped it with my ulu on the beam, removing dried salt and the membrane (most of it at least). After trimming, I applied the tanning dressing, and just like the deer, I folded the sheepskin in half and then rolled it up.

All in all, a super productive afternoon in my micro tannery.

A few noteworthy things from today:

  • My leftover tanning dressing from last week (?) was frozen, which I honestly hadn’t expected to happen until it’s closer to 0* because it’s mostly oil
  • I’m concerned the dressing will freeze on the 2 skins I just tanned before it penetrates; if they’re not right, I’ll have to bring them into my house for that step
  • It’s Thursday and my goal is to be smoking skins by Sunday
  • For those keeping count but mainly for my own brain, here’s the lineup for smoking:
    • Weirdly shaped sheep
    • 2 shearlings
    • Re-smoke my old deerskin
    • Custom deerskin
    • 2nd large sheep
    • If room, re-smoke the spotted hair sheep hide

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