Sheepskin Tanning with Bea; Part 1

In early April, I did the first of a two-part tanning workshop led by Meg Cur of Crow’s Nest Wildcraft. I am interested in learning how to tan because leather is such a beautiful material to work with. I wanted to learn the skills to process hides into leather as both a reclaiming of primitive skills and a way to physically explore the idea of a Fibershed .

On a private property on Vancouver Island, we spent the weekend working with and preparing sheepskin hides for tanning with the wool on. Their were 10 folks there, all from very different walks of life and all very interesting! I was pleased to discover that two of the other participants were also fabric artists. Our intention was to have the tanning process half way completed by the end of the weekend, but the weather disagreed with us. Tanning is highly weather-dependent: the hides must be dry in order to tan, and if it’s raining they are so hydrophilic (water-loving) that they absorb moisture from the air. At the end of the second day, the hides still weren’t dry; so, we left them inside over 2 week to dry before our second weekend together. Unfortunately the second part had to be rescheduled due to poor weather!