Hide Tanning with Crowsnest Wildcraft HIDE TANNING

Hide Tanning Immersion 2021

Welcome to the second annual hide tanning immersion, now online!

Hide tanning is the textile craft that creates leather, buckskin, suede, sheepskin, and more.  It is a transformative process unlike no other.

Over five months, we will meet online for hide tanning methodology, trouble-shooting, storytelling, and community connection.  Sessions are once or twice per month, with drop-in Q&A meets in between.

Instruction is a mix of live video and self-guided learning.  Videos will be recorded so you can plan your hide time around your own schedule.

The five hide tanning sessions will each focus on one fundamental method of natural tanning, while bridging to the next step in a continual learning process.  We start with the basics and move into more complex methods.  Plus, two sessions on craft-making with your own tanned hides are embedded into the program.

Applications are now closed.  If you are here to register, head on over to the online shop.



Fishskin Tanning

Instructor: Amber Sandy


Instructor: Mara Cur


Instructor: Carman McKay

Smoke-tanned Deer Buckskin

Instructor: Mara Cur

Mineral-tanned Sheepskin Rug

Instructor: Shauna Mikomi

Bark-tanned Leather

Instructor: Mara Cur

Bark-tanned Leather

Instructor: Mara Cur


Instructor: June Pardue

Learn the Methods

Fishskin Tanning


Fish skin is a thin yet durable textile that can be tanned just like any mammal skin. Using the tannins from plants or the alchemy of oil, Amber will lead participants through the inaugural Hide Tanning Immersion session with fish as our first guide.



Rawhide is the first textile technology in human history. Simply put, it dried-out animal skin, which can be moulded and formed for different uses. From water containers to shoes to drums, rawhide is a universal craft and the original material behind many surprising modern technologies.



Buckskin was the first textile humans wore to clothe ourselves. Eons before the weaving of plant and woolen fibres, fat and smoke were used to transform hunted animals’ hides into soft and warm fabric. This practice continues to the present day and makes an incredibly soft and lovely fabric.  Buckskin is the most ubiquitous of all natural tanning methods and can be made from local ingredients anywhere in the world.



Leather was originally innovated by the mixing of animal skin with tree bark and plants, to extract the plant cell constituent called tannin (also known as tannic acid). From this, a durable and structural material was created. Leather can construct containers, saddles, shoes, and so much more.



While smoke-tanning and bark-tanning are found around the globe, mineral tanning is denizen to specific geographies where minerals are concentrated in the soils. Its practice evolved with the evolution of sheep tending, and it is mainly used for fur-on leathers. It creates a bright white leather and helps repel water from the textile.

What you’ll get

  • 5 hide tanning methods + 2 crafts
  • 10+ days of hide tanning classes
  • 4+ days of craft-making instruction
  • DIY assistance for your at-home tanning set-up
  • Bi-weekly drop-in troubleshooting sessions
  • Monthly cohort video hangouts
  • Access to the online community anytime

The Details


February 7: Opening ceremony + introductions
February 13-14: Fishskin tanning
February 28: Soaking hides: bucking
March 20-21: Rawhide
March 27-28: Drum-making
April 11-12: Smoke-tanned buckskin

April 17-18: Smoke-tanned buckskin

May 2: Soaking hides: bark-tanning
May 8-9: Slippers-making
May 23-24: Mineral-tanned Sheepskin rug
June 12-13: Barktanned leather
June 20: Closing ceremony


*Dates may be subject to change


Hide Tanning Immersion is offered on a sliding scale tuition.

What is a sliding scale?

A sliding scale is a tiered payment system.  You choose the tier that works best for you, your budget, and your current need/desire to receive/give with your community.

We are able to offer subsidized tuition when participants choose the higher tier.  Through this, we co-create community reciprocity together.


The monthly tuition tiers





All prices in CAD (USD 25-30% lower.)

Guide to the sliding scale

$255.00:  If you are able to pay for “wants” and have secure necessities in your life and/or if this moment represents an opportunity for you to give to your community and make space for others to choose to lower end, this price is for you.

$195.00: If you are working to conquer debt or build savings, but generally have access to steady income and can meet your basic needs, you belong here.

$125.00: If you struggle to maintain access to basic needs and/or are in significant debt, you belong here.  You deserve a community that honours your price as equal an economic offering as the person who can pay the highest tier.

*$0.00: Indigenous participants are welcome to take part in Hide Tanning Immersion for free.  Choose this option only if you belong to an Indigenous Nation.  Thank you!


Monthly Payments

Tuition is paid monthly.  A deposit of 20% is made upon registration, and the remaining payments are due in February, March, April, and May.


Materials: equipment + hides + tools

There are two pieces of at-home tanning equipment: a scraping stand and a hide frame.  Mentors provide instruction and guidance on building your own.  The total cost for these is $50-70.

Hide tanning and craft materials are either BYO or you can purchase them through Crowsnest at a discount for HTI members.  Hides will cost $120 for two deer skins and one sheepskin.  Tools will cost $80-$150, and you can choose which kit you want.*

We provide the drum hoops, sewing needles, and slipper pattern for the craft classes.  You will receive these along with any extra materials in early February, 2021.


*These costs may fluctuate.  Shipping is additional for mail-order kits.

Guide to materials + tools

See our checklist here, for all hide tanning and craft materials needed throughout the course:

See our recommended tools here.

Our hides, tools, and other materials are mail-order and they come lovingly packaged in handmade kits, so all the little details are ready to go.

Scraping beams and frames can be picked up locally in Aldergrove, BC.

Meet Your Instructors

Amber Sandy


Amber Sandy is Anishinaabe and a member of Neyaashiinigmiing, Chippewas of Nawash First Nation. She is an artist with a focus on leather work, beadwork, tufting and furs. Amber is a hide tanner and uses moose, deer and fish skins to make leather by hand. As the coordinator of Indigenous Knowledge and Science Outreach for SciXchange at Ryerson University, she is an enthusiastic advocate of land based education! Her work focuses on integrating Indigenous and western science in her approach to conservation, environmental science and education. It is her passion to strive for increased access to traditional land based practices, art and otherwise, for Indigenous people.


Bark-tanned and Oil-tanned fishskins
Carman McKay


Carman is a self-determined artist, educator, and cultural resource for a variety of communities throughout Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, belonging to the Musqueam and Matsqui First Nations.

Carman is passionate about sharing Indigenous life skills, understandings, and perspectives to the abundance of learners who have arrived in Coast Salish Territory. As a teacher, Carman honours the responsibility in sharing both traditional and contemporary cultural practices, and bringing these together for cross-cultural understanding, dialogue, and decolonization.


June Pardue


June Pardue is a renowned Alutiiq and Inupiaq artist from Kodiak Island. Her work includes traditional waterproof stitching, slippers-making from her family’s generational methods, and fish skin tanning. June is an Elder who is very active in her community as a mentor to others, and teaches online to people around the world.


Mara Cur


Mara Cur is an artist and environmental educator originally from Treaty 4 territory, residing on Sto:Lo Nation territory. She curates Crowsnest Wildcraft.  She is also the founder of the annual arts and skills event Limina Gathering, which she leads alongside other practitioners.

Mara’s approach is to use landbased skills as vessels for personal healing and cross-cultural relationship building. As a settler on Turtle Island, she strives after the intersection of personal and cultural regeneration.



Smoke-tanned Deer Buckskin

Bark-tanned Leather

Shauna Mikomi


Shauna Mikomi is a hide tanner, wild foods forager, and student. She began her skills journey travelling across the continent to learn place-based skills from peers and mentors. She is an alumnus of the Living Wild program in the Methow Valley, WA, USA and has been deepening her relationship to place ever since. Shauna specializes in Buffalo hide tanning and lives close by a beloved herd at the Rocky Mountain Buffalo Ranch, in Golden, BC on Ktunaxa and Secwepemc territories.


Mineral-tanned Sheepskin Rug

The Mentors

Every second Thursday of the month, the mentors will host optional hide tanning hangouts for troubleshooting and guidance.

The first Thursday will help get you started on building your own hide scraping beam and frame, which you will use to tan the deer hides and sheepskins.

Side quests on rabbit tanning and other adventures will be speckled in through these Thursday drop-ins.



Amy is a settler currently living in the shared territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh first peoples (Vancouver) but originally from Mi’maq territory (Nova Scotia). Since participating in the 2019/2020 Hide Tanning Immersion Program she has been practicing some form of tanning on an almost daily basis. Most of her experience has been with rabbits, sheep, deer and most recently goats. This summer, Amy has been focusing on learning about bark-tanning from both sustainably-harvested trees and commercial bark. Amy loves the practice of creating raw materials from the hides and is building up her test sample pieces.

Hide Tanning Mentor Adele Arseneau


Adele maskwasowiskwew Arseneau (Caron)

A Nehiyaw/Metis visual artist, Adele creates work around storytelling and engages the audience to consider cultural appropriation, along with social and environmental issues. Her intent is to educate from an indigenous perspective and counteract current stereotypes.

Displaced from her family’s traditional territory of Northern Saskatchewan, Adele grew up with the Dakelh (Carrier) people of British Columbia in Prince George and Fraser Lake. Incorporating traditional ovoids, split u’s, and trigons of her adopted family into the flowing form lines of her Cree style to create her designs. She carves cedar, beads contemporary Métis and plains style traditional beadwork/earrings, and paints in acrylic on hand tanned rawhide. She has completed a hide tanning residency with Crowsnest Wildcraft, the Reconciliation Carving program at Langara, and holds diplomas in Fine Art and Graphic Design. Her newest educational endeavor includes reclaiming her mother’s language of nehiyaw (Cree), and is now partway through a 2-year nehiyaw language program.

Currently, she is a member of the North Vancouver Arts Council, Seymour Art Gallery, and CARFAC. Since 2015, her work has shown in galleries from North Vancouver to White Rock, including public art with the City of Vancouver. Dedicated to reconnecting with her culture, she looks forward to where her artistic journey is going to take her.

Adele’s portfolio can be viewed at: https://aarseneau.com or on Instagram at: @metiscaron

Bonnie Kohn Hide Tanning


Bonnie Klohn is a 5th generation settler in Secwepemcul’ecw, with ancestral ties to the salmon-bearing Tweed River in Scotland. She recently completed a MA at Concordia University around salmon, Indigenous food systems, settler allyship and socially engaged art.

She is interested in hide tanning and ancestral skills as a part of a relational practice between humans and other animals. Bonnie is part of the collaborative leadership team at the Kamloops Food Policy Council and is part of a budding workers co-operative focused on food systems called Tapestry.

Hide Tanning

Suna Galay

Sunkosi Maya Maria / Suna is Tamang from the Himalayas of Nepal on her mother’s side, and Dënesųłı̨né from Turtle Island with Ukrainian and mixed European ancestries on her father’s side.  She learnt how to tan hides from Mara Cur and Shauna Mikomi, and was a participant in last year’s hide tanning immersion program.
She is a visual and performing artist passionate about exploring the transformative nature of life and death through clown and hide tanning.  Her intention is to engage with sovereignty through reclamation; to be together in remembering our languages, our gifts, and our unbroken ancestral ties to the mystery.