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lea-tanning-msg - 7/22/04

 

How to tan leather. Types of tanning.

 

NOTE: See also the files: leather-msg, lea-tooling-msg, leather-dyeing-msg, lea-bladders-msg, leather-bib, leather2-bib, parchment-msg.

 

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NOTICE -

 

This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

 

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org

 

I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.

 

The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given by the individual authors.

 

Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).

 

Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org

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From: cav at bnr.ca (Rick Cavasin)

Subject: Re: Waxed Leather

Organization: Bell-Northern Research Ltd.

Date: Wed, 7 Jul 93 17:06:22 GMT

 

Greetings from Balderik,

 

gleason at scf16.scf.loral.com (Robert Gleason) writes:

|> I've noticed that the comments always say to use vegetable tanned leather.

|> Why not chrome tanned leather? What are the differences between the two

|> processes?

|>

|> Lord Parlan MacGillivray

 

The short answer is 'It don't work with Chrome tanned leather'.

I don't know the details of the chemistry off by heart. The best source

I've got, Reid's 'Ancient Skins, Parchments, and Leathers' gets into some

of the details, but it's at home.  I'll try to give a 'readers digest' version,

which should be taken with a grain of salt:

Basically, one of the characteristics of Chrome Tanned leather is temperature

stability.  Something about the way the chromium sulphate binds to the pelt

fibres stabilizes them. With veg tanned leather

on the other hand, something about the way the various tannins bind to the

pelt fibres allows a peculiar polymerization reaction to take place above

a certain temperature.  The cuir bouilli is distinctly different structurally,

and chemically (?) from the leather you began with, apart from any wax/hardener

you may have added in the process.  I've hardened vegetable tanned leather

without using wax at all, and only added wax afterwards to enhance the effect

by making the leather denser and more waterproof.

You can bake/wax chrome tanned leather, but it won't undergo any dramatic

increase in rigidity (as far as I know).

 

Although most people don't care, chrome tanning is not period.  Whether or

not modern vegetable tanned leathers resemble their period equivalents is

beyond my knowledge, but I believe there are some distinct differences in the

production methods.

 

Cheers, Balderik

 

 

From: cav at bnr.ca (Rick Cavasin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Costuming and boots

Date: 27 Jan 1995 14:50:25 GMT

Organization: Bell-Northern Research Ltd.

 

mwl at celsiustech.se (Matt Larsen) writes:

|> Robert G. Gleason (gleason at scf16.scf.loral.com) wrote:

|> : IMC at vax2.utulsa.edu (I. Marc Carlson) writes:

 

stuff deleted....

 

|> Also, for whatever it's worth, chrome tanning is a modern process, and

 

Yes, and modern vegetable tanning is also a modern process, with some very

important differences from how it was practiced in the middle ages.  

Saddle skirting, and many (but not all) of the vegetable tanned leathers

commonly available today, are made to be firm, with little stretch.  They

don't HAVE to be that way.  I've made vegetable tanned leather that was

quite supple, with alot more stretch than what one would expect, and it won't

take tooling the way modern veg-tann does.  What was medieval veg-tann like?

I don't know myself.  Been too busy researching other stuff.  Someday, I'll

get back to the veg-tann experiments.  Hope it's before the next move, don't

want to carry that garbage can full of oak bark around with me....  

 

|> all period shoes would have been made with vegetable tanned leather.

   ^^^

 

I don't know about 'all'.   While shoes for outdoor use would in all likelihood

have been made from vegetable tanned leather, I suspect that some fancy indoor

shoes would have been made from alum tawed skins.  It would have been

particularly attractive because it is it white, and takes a wide variety of

the dyes available at that time quite well.

 

If I recall correctly, 'cordwain' leather was one term used for alum tawed

skins.  Medieval shoemakers were called 'cordwainers', so logically....

 

Always best to avoid absolute statements....just in case.

 

About the chrome tanned leather, I think alot depends on HOW the chrome tanned

leather was made.  If it was made to be soft and stretchy, I agree that problems

can arise.  But chrome tanned leather can be quite firm. Not that I'm a big

fan of chrome tanned leather or anything.    

 

Cheers, Rick C.  (who still wears his boots whose uppers are made of chrome

tanned leather - I think they're on their 4th set of soles - may not be pretty,

but they're not shapeless lumps either!)

 

 

From: cav at bnr.ca (Rick Cavasin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: "Authentic" crafts and the SCA

Date: 7 Mar 1996 16:26:20 GMT

Organization: Bell-Northern Research Ltd.

 

schippnick at aol.com (Schippnick) writes:

 

....snip....

 

|> the price is similar. Their process uses the animal's own brains. ("Every

|> critter has enough brains to tan it"s own hide")  

 

I've always heard it as 'God provided every animal with just enough brains

to preserve its skin', which is, IMHO, a more clever play on words.

 

|> Brain tanning seems to

|> result in an excellent, supple, durable product. Does anyone know of it's

|> use in early Northern Europe?

 

Brain tanning is a form of oil tanning.  The brain is rich in various lipids.

Most of the recipes I've seen involve

an additional source of grease/fat, and sometimes soap. If done properly,

it can indeed produce a very beautiful leather.  From the descriptions I've

seen, and from speaking to people who have done it, it appears to be a VERY

labour intensive process.  Anyone who does traditional smoke/brain/buck tanning

deserves to get a princely sum for the product.

 

I have not seen any references to brain or smoke tanning in medieval Europe.

However, oil-tanning or chamoising was commonly done, sometimes in combination

with alum-tawing.

 

Medieval 'buff' leather, used in armouring for points and buff-coats might well

represent a close parallel to Amerindian brain-tanned leather (NOTE: not all

amerindian buck-tanned or smoke-tanned leathers include brains in the tannage,

though the products are often similar in character).

The grain is removed to facilitate penetration of the oil/grease, and the

tannage takes place when the oils are oxidized.  This oxidation is hastened

by smoking in the amerindian tradition.

 

Hope this helps, Rick/Balderik

 

 

From: cav at bnr.ca (Rick Cavasin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Help! Leather tanning and prep

Date: 25 Mar 1996 22:52:08 GMT

Organization: Bell-Northern Research Ltd.

 

DenTim at mail.myriad.net (Tim Lozos) writes:

|>     I just today bought a green steer hide (about 55 sq ft, only

|> $40!). now I just have to figure out how to tan it ;) Does anyone have a

|> concise guide to preping and tanning a hide?? Especially to use for armour

|> and such. Any guidence on books, pamphlets, Sca related materials or just

|> an email w/ relevent facts would be greatly appreciated!

|>

|>     Tymo (wondering how to explain this stinky pile of fur to his

|> lady)

 

I'm really sorry buddy, but I gotta say this:

 

HA HA HA HA HA

HA HA HA HA HA

HA HA HA HA HA !

 

I know, I know, that's not terribly charitable or helpful, but it's been

a long day (week?  month?  lifetime?).

 

$40 is probably a pretty reasonable price for that size of green steer hide.

But I process skins all the time (mostly as parchment/vellum, sometimes as

leather), and I would never tackle such a project.  It is very ambitious

for a first timer.  

 

First of all, I will tell you what I tell everyone who asks me about tanning

leather:

 

As expensive as leather can be at times, it is very cheap when you consider

the amount of work involved in doing it yourself.  Most leather is produced

in highly mechanized tanneries with huge economies of scale.  There's alot

of labour involved in doing this yourself, and this is especially true for

heavy leathers.  

 

If you're going to try and tackle it, I'd suggest that you cut the hide up

into more managable pieces for a start.  That size of hide is tough to

manhandle, and you'll need pretty big vats to hold it in one piece.  The

instructions I've included below may work as far as getting the hair off,

but I'm not sure you can alum taw something that thick. I'm not sure it

is practical to veg-tann it, as it takes a long time for vegetable tannins

to penetrate a hide that thick without the specialized equipment available

in a modern tannery.

 

Tanning instructions from something I posted to someone else ages ago:

 

I think Tandy currently carries two sorts of tanning kits. One is a tanning

paste, the other is a more complete kit with lime for removing hair, etc.

I've never tried either kit, so I don't know what sort of leather can be

obtained by using them.  

  

|> This means you need to find

|> a recipe for removing the hair.

 

This is relatively (!) easy:

 

1) Remove large chunks of fat/flesh from the flesh side of the hide.

   (if the hide has dried out somewhat, do this after soaking for a couple

    of hours as part of step 2)

2) Soak the hide in cold water, changing the water frequently, for a period

   of about 2 days.  This is to wash out blood, soluble proteins, etc.

3) While soaking the hides, prepare your unhairing solution:

      Take about 2 cups of builder's lime (slaked lime = hydrated lime = Ca(OH)2)

      for every 5 gallons of unhairing solution (you'll want about 10 gallons

      for the average deer hide - maybe more for an elk).

      Mix the lime with hot water (lime is caustic - exercise appropriate

      precautions), and set it aside to cool for a day or two.  DO NOT PUT

      THEN HIDES INTO THIS SOLUTION WHILE IT IS HOT.  It is inadvisable to

      unhair the hides using lime if the ambient temperature is much over 75F.

4) After the soaking, place the hide in the lime solution in some sort of

   tub.  Stir as frequently as possible (at least twice daily), and drain

   the skin over a horse every day or two, returning it to the lime solution.

5) When the hair at the neck can be rubbed off easily, it is ready to unhair.

   The hair can be rubbed off with a gloved hand, or scraped with a blunt edge.

   Depending on the state of the hide when the process was started, the species,

   thickness, ambient temperature, etc.  it will take 1-3 weeks for the hair

   to loosen.

   Draping it over a cylindrical 'beam' can facilitate the unhairing process.

6) Once the hair is removed, the hide should be thoroughly fleshed to remove

   any residual fat, flesh, and connective tissue.

7) Wash the hide thoroughly to remove residual lime. Change the water frequently,

   for about 2 days.  To be double sure, you can 'delime' the hide after

   washing in a weakly acidic solution (eg. very dilute vinegar).

   In period, deliming would have been achieved by soaking in a fermenting

   vat of bran after thorough washing.  I haven't tried the fermenting bran

   yet.

8) Your hide is basically ready for tanning at this point.

 

|> If you have cleaned the skin well (no fat

|> or meat) and have it salted the skin will last for a while.  I have two

|> hides in that condition that I have had for a year with no signs of

|> deterioration.

 

Deterioration can be more subtle than outright putrefication.  Residual blood

in the hide may set permanently, leaving blotches in the finished hide. Fat/oils

oxidize, leaving discolourations.  There are some organisms that can attack

the salted hide, leaving various discolourations.  Some of these things may

not be as big a concern for someone making leather, but for parchment, I like

to get my hands on the skins as soon as they're off the carcass.  Unfortunately,

that rarely happens.

 

Even freezing, though better than salting for prolonged storage, can lead to

problems in the long term.

 

|> Other hides I have sent to a company in Wisconsin that tans hides and does

|> a beautiful job at a very reasonable price.  I pay about 1/3 of what a

|> commercial hide would cost.

 

This is probably the best route to take.  Tanning is alot of work (especially

for something the size of an elk), and there's no guarantee that your first

attempt will turn out.

 

Here's some references:

 

Ancient Skins, Parchments, and Leathers,  R.Reed,  Seminar Press

London and New York, 1972  ISBN 0-12-903550-5

 

Of all the do-it-yerself type home tanning books, these are my two

favourites:

 

Home Tanners' Handbook, June Vivian    ISBN 0-589-013718

 

The Complete Book of Tanning Skins and Furs,  J.Churchill

Stackpole Books, Harrisburg PA 1983

(sorry, just have a few pages photocopied and no ISBN. Tandy

Leather used to sell this book, and they may still do so)

 

Hope this helps.

 

Cheers, Rick /Balderik

 

 

From: cav at bnr.ca (Rick Cavasin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Help! Leather tanning and prep

Date: 25 Mar 1996 22:56:24 GMT

Organization: Bell-Northern Research Ltd.

 

On second thought, maybe I shouldn't laugh.  My first

tanning project was a moose hide after all.  But then,

I'm a self confessed bonehead.  

 

Cheers, Rick/Balderik

 

 

From: "david.nelson at anestgsi.uu.se at d (12/14/96)

To: markh at risc.sps.mot.com

Date: Sat, 14 Dec 1996 23:22:39 +0100

Subject: leather tanning

 

Noticed an inquiery concerning information on brain tanning.I have

written a book on the subject which has recently been translated from

Swedish to english. I have a small tannery in Sigtuna,Sweden where I tan

using only traditional methods such as brain and bark tanning. I also

hold courses on the subject.

 

Lotta Rahme.

Lnggatan 9,

s- 19330 Sigtuna,

Sweden.

 

The book can be found at http:/www.teleport.com/~tcl/index.html

 

 

From: "david.nelson at anestesi.uu.se at david.nelson" at anestesi.uu.se

Date: Tue, 17 Dec 1996 23:27:43 +0100

To: Mark Harris <mark_harris at quickmail>

Subject: tanning

 

Hi Mark

Thank you for your reply.The ISBN number of the Swedish edition is

91-36-02810-X. I will have to get back to you on the english version

ISBN. My production is small and mostly geared for museums and products

sold in the our adjecent store in Sigtuna outside of Stockholm.I do not

know what the SCB is.I am currently using my husbands adr (thereof David

Nelson). I have ordered an adr. It will probably be

Lotta.Rahme at swipenet.se. Hopefully up and running next week. We have

also registered a domain. Lottas tannery and will eventually construct a

site. Thanks again, and will get back to you on the ISBN nr.

 

Lotta

 

 

Date: Mon, 03 Feb 1997 21:44:51 -0800

From: lotta rahme <lotta.rahme at lottastannery.se>

To: Mark Harris

Subject: Tanning book

 

Dear Mark!

 

I have now got my own E-mail address.

The ISBN number of the book is 1-887719-00-8.

I have just been in contact with the publisher and it seems

that, to my irritation, it has not been released yet. It was supposed to

be out in November.

You can get information about the book at : http:/www.teleport.com/~tcl

 

Best regards

Lotta Rahme

 

 

Date: Thu, 17 Jul 1997 14:01:04 +1200

From: "Pete Grooby" <Peter.Grooby at trimble.co.nz>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Tawed leather

 

Well met good folk,

I thought i would give an update on my experiments into tawed

leather.

 

Never being one to let admonitions get in my way, I had a go tawing a

piece of soaked and unwrapped rawhide dog bone.

 

Rather surprisingly it actually worked. It took about 6 hours or so

to get the leather completely white, although it was about 80% done

within an hour. It seemed to turn the whitest after a realling good

staking, so it could be that the rawhide has been sufficiently

treated that it won't absorb the alum unless stressed.

 

It came out as a nice white-off white thickish rough leather, that is

moderatly flexible.

 

I waterproofed half of it last night by rubbing some tallow into it.

I'll try soaking part of it in some water and see how well the

waterproofing works.

 

I also had a go at chamoising a piece of rawhide, but had no luck at

all with that, I suspect my raw material was not ideal.

 

Next I'd like to try dyeing some vegetable tanned leather, using

natural dyes. I thought initially I'd try lichen.

I have a book that says that due to the stuffing employed with

commercially tanned leather, water based dyes will not work.

Has anyone had any experience with this? Could I strip some of them

out by first rubbing with some sort of thinner.

 

Thanks for your help.

 

YIS

Vitale

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Peter Grooby            pgrooby at trimble.co.nz             -=0 0=-/  

Trimble Navigation http://www.geocities.com/Athens/3069  |_{|}/ /    

Christchurch, NZ.                                          _|  \    

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Date: Thu, 17 Jul 1997 21:13:37 -0400 (EDT)

From: PamD956 at aol.com

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Tawed leather

 

In a message dated 97-07-17 14:07:33 EDT, you write:

<< I also had a go at chamoising a piece of rawhide, but had no luck at

all with that, I suspect my raw material was not ideal. >>

 

You could try soaking the rawhide in a saltpeter solution. American indians

used it to break down the fibers in deerhide to make it soft. (See what I get

for going to the Jamestown Settlement? I learn the wierdest things...)

 

 

Date: Fri, 18 Jul 1997 09:43:39 +1200

From: "Pete Grooby" <Peter.Grooby at trimble.co.nz>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Tawed leather

 

> Keep in mind that the advice in your source might be referring to a chrome

> tanned leather.

 

I believe so, I'll have to check. Besides I've never seen undyed

chrome tanned leather.

 

He does wax lyrical and give instruction on how to vegetable tan your

own leather, looks like entirely too much work for this lifetime. But

apparently, one can do much better tooling on it.

 

> who now is going to find out what the heck it means to stuff leather

I think that was the term he used. It relates to waxes and oils and

the like which are put into the leather to complete the manufacturing

process.

 

YIS

Vitale

 

 

Date: Mon, 21 Jul 1997 13:36:15 -0400 (EDT)

From: Varju at aol.com

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Tawed leather

 

<<Well. If by 'tooling' you mean  stamping patterns into the letter, as in a

'tooled Western belt,' if  you'll permit me the unperiodicity; ... anyway. If

that's what you mean,  you can do it just fine on commercially-tanned (and I

doubt it was vege'd) leather.>>

 

Well, even commercially tanned tooling leather is vegetable tanned.  For some

reason other tanning processes do not leave leather the right consistancy to

tool.  The types of tanning I can come up with off the top of my head are:

 

Vegetable tanned: also know as oak tanned, done with tannic acid, gives you

tooling leather

 

chrome tanned:  done using chrome compounds, creates garment leather

 

oil tanned: I'm not sure what the process is, but this leather is definitely

oily, and bit water resistant. great for armor

 

brain tanned: yes it is what it sounds like, this was the method favored by

many Native American tribes, creates a garment leather in shades varying from

cream to medium brown

 

Noemi

 

 

Date: Tue, 22 Jul 1997 20:26:45 -0500

From: theodelinda at webtv.net (linda webb)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: vegetable tanned leather

 

Vegetable tanning is not the same as vegetable dyeing.  Tanning

preserves the leather, without necessarily adding or altering the

original color.`

You can't tool oil or wax-preserved leathers like latigo or the other

harness leathers, and I've never heard of anyone tooling or stamping

chrome-tanned leather.  Once it is tanned, what the leather is dyed with

doesn't affect how you can handle it very much.  Bear in mind that

products like the Tandy Company's Cova-dyes are more like an acrylic

paint than what we normally think of as a dye, and are typically applied

after the tooling or stamping are done., as are the stains and

'antiquing" products, which give a more transparent color

 

 

Date: Thu, 24 Jul 1997 08:59:47 -0400 (EDT)

From: MShaf20515 at aol.com

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Tawed leather

 

It has been my experience , in the past, to go to the source (so to speak).

Since you can't ask the cow,deer, pig.....how best to tan their hides for

tooling leather, try your friendly neighborhood taxidermist.  Most will be

happy to go on for hours about the variety of different ways to tan

hides-Brain tan, urine tan,  chrome.........and their specific properties.

They are a very useful  contact to have.  If you don't know of a taxidermist

near you, check your yellow pages or local gun/archery shop.  They usually

know of a good one.

 

                       Most Humbly Yours

                               Ivy~

 

 

Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 18:46:59 -0600

From: Tori Gustafson <gustav at hub.ofthe.net>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Leather questions

 

Two good references for tanning leather are:

 

      1. Taxidermy Step by Step by Waddy F McFall  ISBN: 0-87691-209-9

      2. Taxidermy Guide by Russell Tinsley  ISBN:0-88317-032-9

 

Gustav Hastings

 

 

Date: Fri, 14 Nov 1997 10:35:47 -0500 (EST)

From: <Varju at aol.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Leather questions

 

thank you for the ideas.  I have access to the Buckskinner books at work, and

can check with the Buckskinner's that come in although in my area (Wyoming)

most do brain tanning.  I think we even have a Merit Badge book lying around

at work too.  I'm hoping that my other leather research will turn up more

information on alum tanning.

 

Quite by accident I learned the answer to my other question at work

yesterday. (Background info, I work at the local Tandy Leather.)  Someone

asked why the white elk and deer skins look different than the white garment

cowhide.  I knew the white cow is chrome tanned with almost a white glaze on

top, the backside of the hide and the cross-section being that distinctive

grey that chrome tanned leather is.  The deer and elk hides are completely

white, both sides and all the way through.  After doing some research I found

out that alum tanning is the ONLY way to get completely white leather.   The

thing to look for is completely white hide, and often they are sold as

"wedding white".

 

Noemi

 

 

Date: Mon, 17 Nov 1997 10:50:37 +1300

From: Peter Grooby <Peter.Grooby at trimble.co.nz>

To: "'sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu'" <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: RE: Leather questions

 

On Friday, November 14, 1997 4:26 AM, Varju at aol.com [SMTP:Varju at aol.com]

wrote:

> I am in the process of testing natural dyes on leather and have run into an

> interesting problem.  All of the period instructions for dying leather are

> for dying tawed (alum tanned leather).  Does anyone know if tawed leather is

> still availible?  If not, where would I find instructions on how to do it

> myself?

 

If you are still interested in tawing some leather yourself I can dig up

my recipe at home tonight.

Basically it is a mixture of un-iodised salt, alum and water. But I will

get the exact proportions.

 

After cleaning, the skin is soaked in the mixture for a few hours and

then 'staked'. You need something resembling a stake  or plank, sticking

out of the ground at about waist level. You then take the skin in each

hand and with an alternating each hand up and down, motion draw the skin

across the stake.  This sort of 'opens up' the pores of the leather

allowing more of the solution to soak in next time.

 

Keep on repeating soaking and staking. As you do so the skin will get

whiter and softer. Eventually getting a rough texture sort of like

suede.

 

Once done and dyed. The leather needs to be waterproofed. That is the

disadvantage of tawed leather. If it gets wet, that alum gets washed

right out and you are left with rawhide. I have seen a number of things

suggested for the waterproofing, basically anything with a high fat

content, from tallow to egg yolk. Another involved soaking in a solution

of water and detergent and neatsfoot oil. Again I'll dig out the

references tonight.

 

Vitale

 

 

Date: Fri, 28 Nov 1997 17:37:27 +1300

From: Peter Grooby <Peter.Grooby at trimble.co.nz>

To: "'sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu'" <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: RE: Leather questions

 

Yay, I remembered :^)

> If you are still interested in tawing some leather yourself I can dig up

> my recipe at home tonight.

> Basically it is a mixture of un-iodised salt, alum and water. But I will

> get the exact proportions.

 

Aluminium potasium sulphate (alum) 4 parts

Sodium chloride (un-iodised salt) 1 part.

Added to this enough water so that the above will just disolve.

 

Next in the book was a description of how to first bleach the skin if

you want to retain the fleece and not damage it, I can post it if you are

interested, but its kind of long otherwise.

 

> After cleaning, the skin is soaked in the mixture for a few hours and

> then 'staked'. You need something resembling a stake or plank, sticking

> out of the ground at about waist level. You then take the skin in each

> hand and with an alternating each hand up and down, motion draw the skin

> across the stake.  This sort of 'opens up' the pores of the leather

> allowing more of the solution to soak in next time.

>

> Keep on repeating soaking and staking. As you do so the skin will get

> whiter and softer. Eventually getting a rough texture sort of like

> suede.

 

Now briefly rinse and set aside to dry. If it becomes too stiff, stake

during the drying process.

 

[The skin is greatly improved when dry by stuffing. The leather at this

stage is open in texture and a wide variety of substances can be

absorbed to give greater body. For fleeced skins the safest stuffing is

glycerol (glycerine) for it is the least likely to stain wool or hair.

However fat and oils of any type, egg yolk, flour and starch are among

substances which have been used for stuffing.

Where colour is of no great moment the leather can be stuffed by soaking

in the following mixture:

 

household detergent           1 part

Pure soap flakes             10 parts

Neatsfoot oil                20 parts

water                       200 parts

 

Warm water should be used and the neatsfoot oil well emulsified by

whisking or beating into the mixture. staking during stuffing will

assist in further softening of the leather,]

 

So there ya go. I hope that helps.

 

Vitale

 

 

From: Melanie Wilson <MelanieWilson at compuserve.com>

To: LIST Costume <h-costume at indra.com>

Date: Tuesday, March 24, 1998 7:42 AM

Subject: H-COST: Tanning Fur

 

This works up to about goat size.

 

DRY CURING

 

Remove skins from animals within 24 hrs of killing

the best skins are from rabbits 6-8 months old, summer skins are not as

   strong.

Remove the inner skin Start at the head

Pin it onto a board, pin about every 2 inches. Stretching slightly to a

   oblong shape.

Mix 2 teaspoons of Alum & 2 tsp of salt together well, rub into the skin.

When this has dissolved, remove pins & fold into quaters fur side out.

Put in cool place for 3 days.

After 3 days wash in lukewarm rainwater.

Wring dry and hang furside out in a cool place to dry slowly.

Everyday whilst dryinmg it should be taken down twisted, pulled and handled

   to keep it supple.

Run oatmeal into skin whilst drying to absorb grease & damp

When quite dry brush both sides.

 

 

WET CURING

 

2 lb bran to 1 gallon (UK gallon) of water

Fold skin fur side in, immerse for 1.5 to 2 days

Hang on a line to drain for about 1 hour

Rub 2oz alum & 3oz salt mix in, fold in quarters and leave for 2 days

If all the salt/alum mix is gone after one day rub in some more

Remove inner skin and hang on a line fur out to dry very slowly

Again handle every day

Brush

 

Mel

 

 

From: cav at storm.ca (Rick Cavasin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Leather Dye rub off (was Re: care for Kid gloves?)

Date: 21 Jul 1998 16:05:19 GMT

 

stefan at texas.net (Stefan li Rous) writes:

|> Thanks for this info. I have this problem of the red and black dyes I

|> dyed some whitish gloves with.

 

The leather used is likely to be either alum tawed or chrome tanned.

Chrome tanned leather has a distinct blueish-grey colour. Alum tawed tends

to be snow-white to ivory.  Modern dyes are formulated for veg-tann and

chrome tanned leather.  I've had weird experiences with alum tawed myself,

but I haven't done extensive studies.  I've heard from others that they also

had trouble.  This doesn't necessarily mean that all alum tawed leathers

cause problems with all synthetic dyes however...

 

|> They may well be alum tawed leather as

|> you suggest. I did put on a protective coat that the Tandy Leather

|> guy suggested, but they stain my hands red if I sweat in them. What

|> is your suggestion for dye as I have another pair of untanned gloves?

 

In period, natural dyes were used on alum tawed skins (a good number of

'recipes', and some artifacts survive).  We know they used alum tawed leather

in bookbinding, and dyed them at times.  However, this is not an application

where resistance to water/sweat is very important.  The alum tannage itself

is not really well suited to applications where repeated exposure to water

is expected, since the alum is not well fixed in the skin. Gloves made with

alum tawed leather are probably meant for 'dress' wear. This may have been

true of the tawed/dyed leathers prepared according to recipes like those in

The Plictho as well.  The recipes don't specify the intended use the finished

skins.  

 

I've tawed skins and dyed them with traditional dyes in assorted colours.

I haven't really put them to water tests however.

 

You're in a bit of a tough position with only finished gloves to

experiment on... :)

 

|> Is there a way to improve the gloves I have already done other than the

|> burnishing and such already suggested?

 

You may have loaded them up with too much dye.  You could try washing them

to get the excess out, but that may also remove the tannage if they're tawed.

I know what I might try...but then I've got all the necessary stuff to re-taw

them if necessary.

 

Cheers, Rick/Balderik

 

 

Subject: Re: leather dyeing

Date: Tue, 28 Jul 1998 18:14:38 -0400 (EDT)

From: cav at storm.ca (Rick Cavasin)

To: stefan at texas.net

 

Hi Stefan,

 

>> I bought these specifically for rapier combat as they are supple yet

>> close fitting. From your description, they are alum tawed. What is

>> tawed mean vs. tanned?

 

Tawing is the (now somewhat archaic) term for dressing skins with alum.

In the old days, each method of treating skins had its own name.  'Tanning'

was used specifically to describe treating skins with vegetable tannin.

Today, tanning is used generically.  So, tawed skin is skin that has been

'tanned' with alum (plus salt - traditional recipes often include alum, salt,

and some form oil, often egg yolk).

 

>> I have one more undyed pair. I'll find out more about dyeing this next

>> time rather than just trusting to the Tandy salesman.

 

Your best bet may still be using a synthetic dye.  You may just want to go

easy on how much you use.  Traditional dyes can be a pain in the ass to use

as well, and some colours may not be an option (for instance, I don't know if

you can do black on tawed skin) due to incompatible chemistry.

 

Cheers, Rick

 

 

Subject: Re: Tanning hides...

Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998 18:49:59 -0400

From: Kevin of Thornbury <kevin at maxson.com>

Organization: Kingdom of Atlantia

To: The Merry Rose Tavern at Cheapside <atlantia at atlantia.sca.org>

 

Petrus of Steinen wrote:

> But any tips or suggestions on tanning hides and pelts would be greatly

> appreciated. And if anyone in the Storvik area wants to go hunting

> sometime, give me a ring and we'll arrange it somehow.

 

Well, I'm going hunting on the 16th in the area of Eastern Stierbach,

but I'll be doing it with my Mossberg 835 pump shotgun, not a bow.  :)

 

And as for preserving hides, an excerpt:

-------------------------------------------------------------

Use common table salt or pickling salt in the amounts indicated in the

following table:

 

Game Species           Cape Only       Whole Hide

Deer                   2 lbs. (.9 kg)  5 lbs. (2.2 kg)

 

Lay the hide flat on the ground, fur side down and stretch it to its

fullest extent.  Sprinkle salt freely and evenly over the entire hide.

Rub the salt vigorously in to the skin with the flat of your hand. Be

certain the edges of the skin are thoroughly salted.

 

Salt draws the moisture out of the hide. After leaving the salted hide

exposed to the air for 24 hours or more, sprinkle salt lightly over the

hide once more. Then fold it up towards the skin side. Keep it cool.

Don't place it in a plastic bag or closed container while transporting

it.

 

Salting a skin is always preferable to stretching and air drying it.

Only when salt is not available should you cure a skin by stretching it

in a frame or pegging it on the ground.  Pegging will leave holes in a

skin's edges which must be trimmed away, wasting part of the skin.

 

Even though a skin may be stretched larger than its original size, it

will revert to its normal size when tanned. After curing, treating and

tanning is complete, a skin that has been stretched and air dried will

probably be smaller than if it had been salt cured.

 

Transporting

 

If you are backpacking game from field to camp, tie hunter orange

flagging on your packsack. If the animal has antlers or horns, tie

hunter orange flagging around them as well so you will not be mistaken

for an animal by other hunters. A bell tied to your pack-frame will also

help others recognize you as a hunter returning from the field.

 

To prevent damaging the hide, do not drag game along the ground or roll

it downhill. If an animal must be dragged, lay it on a blanket or coat,

or put a layer of brush or boughs underneath the animal. Pull the animal

along by its head.

 

When carrying an animal or hide on horseback, be careful that ropes used

to hold it in place do not rub the skin and damage the hide. A blanket,

cloth or layers of grass placed between the ropes and hide will prevent

damage. A burlap bag is useful for carrying a hide or meat from field to

camp.

 

When transporting game by vehicle, be sure to keep the carcass away from

engine heat, gasoline, sunlight and road dust to prevent its spoilage.

 

Copyright (c) 1998 National Rifle Association of America

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------

_____

|+^+|  Kevin of Thornbury

|/+\|  (mka Kevin Maxson)

\_/   kevin at maxson.com   http://www.atlantia.sca.org

 

 

Subject: RE: Tanning hides...

Date: Wed, 21 Oct 1998 09:04:57 -0400

From: gregory.stapleton at funb.com

To: ravenest at erols.com, atlantia at atlantia.sca.org

 

Greetings, M'lord Petrus,

        The salt helps to act as a temporary preservative, to keep the

hide from spoiling until it can be properly tanned.  It is not tanning

in and of itself.  Two good resources for do-it-yourself tanning that

are easily obtainable are, 1) The Buckskinning Book, I believe Vol. 1,

though I'm not sure.  In it are directions for smoking and brain tanning

a dear hide in the Native American method.  2) There is an inexpensive

tanning kit that can be purchased from Tandy Leather that has enough

components in it to do a couple of average deer hides. There are

umpteen dozens of books on the subject, check your public library.

Also, this web site has some links to sites that explain how to tan deer

hides:

 

http://members.tripod.com/~Whitetail_Hunter/index.html

 

Lord Gawain Kilgore

 

 

Subject: Re: Tanning hides...

Date: Wed, 21 Oct 1998 09:25:51 -0400 (EDT)

From: "H L. Falls" <hlf at holmes.acc.virginia.edu>

To: atlantia mailing list <atlantia at atlantia.sca.org>

 

>       The salt helps to act as a temporary preservative, to keep the

> hide from spoiling until it can be properly tanned. It is not tanning

> in and of itself.

 

   Ah, you beat me to it! :)  And it should be noted that *all* the

salt has to be rinsed out before the hide can be tanned. If you need

to store a hide for while and have room in a freezer, freezing will

preserve it just as well as salt and doesn't have to be rinsed!

 

--Landi Haraldsson

 

 

Subject: RE: Tanning hides...

Date: Wed, 21 Oct 1998 09:21:28 EDT

From: SCAEtain at aol.com

To: gregory.stapleton at funb.com, ravenest at erols.com, atlantia at atlantia.sca.org

 

Greetings,

When I was working as a Native American at a living history museum (St.Mary's

City), they told us that the way to stretch hides was thus:

 

-Stretch the hide by putting holes around the edges and pulling it to a

frame.

 

-Scrape off all the fat. Make sure you get it all. We used the edge of a bone,

sharpened...

 

-Take the deer's brain, put it in a blender (didn't ya know the Native

Americans had those in the 1600s??) with a little water, and rub it into the

hide. Do this really well. Or you can use 2 pig brains, but one deer brain =

enough for one deer hide

 

-Take your hide and put it in the loft of your home, over a smoky fire til

it's nice and supple. If you don't heat your home with a little smoky fire

in the middle of your floor, well, improvise :)

 

I must admit, I never did this myself, and I can't bring myself to stop for

roadkill and experiment. But if anyone wants to do a class or demo on this,

please let me know! I do know that my entire outfit for work was made this

way, and it was really comfortable and soft...

 

In Service (for whatever it's worth *grin*)

Etain (Ay-den)

 

 

Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 02:47:25 -0500

From: Melanie Wilson <MelanieWilson at compuserve.com>

To: "INTERNET:sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu" <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Moose hide

 

THe far easiest way I think is to get a man to urinate on it regularly

when stretched this gives a good & authentic tanning result.

 

However if you don't fancy that, this works up to about goat size.

 

DRY CURING

 

Remove skins from animals within 24 hrs of killing

 

the best skins are from rabbits 6-8 months old, summer skins are not as

strong.

 

Remove the inner skin. Start at the head

 

Pin it onto a board, pin about every 2 inches. Stretching slightly to a

oblong shape.

 

Mix 2 teaspoons of Alum & 2 tsp of salt together well, rub into the skin.

 

When this has dissolved, remove pins & fold into quarters fur side out.

 

Put in cool place for 3 days.

 

After 3 days wash in lukewarm rainwater.

 

Wring dry and hang furside out in a cool place to dry slowly.

 

Everyday whilst dryinmg it should be taken down twisted, pulled and handled

to keep it supple.

 

Run oatmeal into skin whilst drying to absorb grease & damp

 

When quite dry brush both sides.

 

WET CURING

 

2 lb bran to 1 gallon (UK gallon) of water

 

Fold skin fur side in, immerse for 1.5 to 2 days.

 

Hang on a line to drain for about 1 hour

 

Rub 2 oz alum & 3 oz salt mix in, fold in quaters and leave fron 2 days

 

If all the salt/alum mix is gone after one day rub in some more.

 

Remove inner skin and hang on a line fur out to dry very slowly

 

Again handle every day

 

Brush

 

How big is a moose anyway ? (sorry we don't have them ) if nearer a deer I

have another recipe, I'll dig that out as it isn't on computer

 

Mel

 

 

Date: Sat, 12 Dec 1998 14:13:22 -0600

From: Gunnora Hallakarva <gunnora at bga.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Tanning?

 

Someone suggested this as a way to tan leather:

>THe far easisiest way I think is to get a man to urinate on it regularly

>when stretched this gives a good & authentic tanning result.

 

Don't do this to good leather.  While urine is used in some tanning

processes, it is *stale* urine, not fresh - the goal is to get the urine to

decompose, creating urea compounds that act as a natural bleaching agent.

 

As far as I am aware, all medieval urine processes (dyeing and tanning)

used stale urine.  Furthermore, a number of sources specifically mention

that it is much preferred to use first morning urine, especially from

children.  This latter makes sense, as kids don't tend to eat as much

garlic, onion, horseradish, and beer as adults do and that would affect the

odor of the product plus add sulfur compounds. Furthermore, I suspect that

adult urine contains hormones that child's urine does not, again affecting

odor and chemical constituents.

 

But the overall point is that urea by itself won't tan the leather.  It

will bleach, it will kill bacteria, but tannic acid, brain tanning, or

smoke preservation have to be used in conjunction with the process.

 

Gunnora Hallakarva

Herskerinde

 

 

Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 08:51:59 -0800

From: "J. Kriss White" <jkrissw at earthling.net>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Tanning & waterproofing leather

 

At 04:03 AM 12/24/98 -0500, Melanie mentioned:

>I was reading an article in a French mag on Chestnuts, it mentions tanning

>& waterproofing leather can be achieved using Sweet Chestnut wood. I would

>imagine it is period for Europe! Unfortunately no details, but I'd not

>heard of it before so though you all might like to know.

 

Any tree bark or wood with sufficient tannin would suffice, I imagine.  I

know oak bark is and was a major source for tanning leather.

 

J. Kriss White     2302 Peppermint Lane, Lemon Grove, CA 91945

E-mail:  jkrissw at earthling.net, ICQ: #1824702, AOL-IM: jkrissw

 

 

Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 14:17:59 EST

From: <Varju at aol.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Tanning & waterproofing leather

 

jkrissw at earthling.net writes:

<< Any tree bark or wood with sufficient tannin would suffice, I imagine.  I

know oak bark is and was a major source for tanning leather >>

 

True. . .but what about the waterproofing part?  There must be something

special in Sweet Chestnut that provides that part. . .

 

Noemi

 

 

Subject: Re: [FTF] deer skins

Date: Wed, 22 Dec 1999 03:23:07 -0500

From: "Alderton, Philippa" <phlip at morganco.net>

To: <field-to-feast at egroups.com>

CC: "Stefan" <stefan at texas.net>

 

Magdelena asks:

>A friend is giving me 3 deer skins untreated but he isn't able to give me

the brains. What's the best thing I can use? <

 

Ah, well, if you want to brain tan the hides, then brains are the best bet

;-) They're fairly easy to come by- just look, or ask, at your local butcher

shop. As far as quantities go, animals come conveniently packaged with their

hides and just exactly the amount of brains necessary to tan them, so you'd

likely want, for the three hides, 4 lamb brains, 3 pig brains, or 1 cow

brain.

 

Robert Brunnemeyer responded:

>Well if you don't want the hair, I would personally say that oak bark

would be best.  If you are interested give me a mail, and I will describe

it for you, but if you want hair this will NOT work.<

 

May I suggest that you definitely don't want the hair?? The reason being is

that deer hair is hollow, thus causing it to shed more easily, which means

that it will be giving you little gifts for the next 10 years or so- not a

prefered state of affairs, in my opinion ;-)

 

Robert, why don't you post your oak tanning method to the List? I'm sure

several of us would be interested, and I'm betting Stefan would love to add

such a post to his Florilegium, if you're willing.

 

Phlip

 

Philippa Farrour

Caer Frig

Southeastern Ohio

 

 

Date: Wed, 22 Dec 1999 00:20:20 -0800

From: Robert L Brunnemer <hugewheels at juno.com>

Subject: [FTF] Oak Bark Tanning

 

Oak Bark Tanning:

 

The first thing that I do when I am getting ready to tan a skin is to

soak it in Lye for about a day so the hairs will come loose.  When you

rub your hand on the skin and the hair comes off easily then it is done.

Remove all of the hair either using a curry brush like you would use for

horses, an old comb, a razor (I think a dull razor works best because it

doesn't cut, you just want something to push on pretty much) etc.  Then

when all of the hair is off of the hide I take the curry brush, and my

knife and try to get all of the flesh off that I can.  You are doing good

if you can get it all, but with some animals like pig it is rather

stingy, and doesn't want to leave.  Watch out when you cut that you don't

cut into the skin you are going to make leather out of, because that

leaves a big ugly hole in your otherwise pretty leather. After all of

this is done you want to rinse the hide GOOD to get all of the lye off of

it, because it will continue to eat through.  Some people suggest using a

mild detergent to cut through better, but I have had no problems, but

don't have any long lived pieces yet to attest to it working that way, do

what you wish here.

 

While the skin is soaking in the lye I usually go out to a nearby oak

tree, take a hatchet and a paper bag.  I then hack away at the bark,

putting the bag underneath the catch the flakes, and the chunks that fall

off.  I usually stop doing this when I can't hold my arm up to chop

anymore, which happens sooner then you'd think with a dull hatchet. :-)

Basically you are going to want about 5-7 cups of oak bark.  Put this in

a big pan that you aren't going to want to make food in or look pretty

for quite a while. :-)  Then fill the pan with enough water to be able to

soak the skin in, and a bit more.  (It isn't an exact science!)  Turn on

the burner to your stove, or stoke up the fire.  You want to boil this

stuff until you think it is done then a bit more.  When it is finally

finished it has a good even brown color.  (Basically you are making oak

bark tea)  Then take the concoction and let it cool.  Put it into

whatever you are going to soak the hide in, and throw in the hide.  Make

sure it is completely covered with this stuff.  I leave the bark in

because I never read in any book I could find that I should take it out,

and I figure it can't hurt anything, and if I pile the bark on top of the

skin it helps keep it under the "water."  Leave sit for a while till

done.  (Time depends on the skin: Squirrel is usually 24 hours a deer is

a couple of days, and other then that I have no clue.) When it is

finished it is usually a pretty glistening brown color. Be sure to stir

it around every once in a while or it will be uneven, and some parts

won't be the same color as others.  Then tack it to a wall or some place

where air can get to all sides of it, if you have pets or live where

there are wild animals put it in the air a bit so they aren't too

tempted.  I know my cat sure likes to think about taking it.

 

When it is drying take it off from time to time and rub it on a fence

post to get it to soften up, or to "break" it. If it dries too fast you

can always get it a little wet and break it then.  Don't oil it before

you break it, because then you have to crease it in every way imaginable

to make it soften up, and that isn't fun!!!  I know I have been there.

:-)  Then stare at the small piece of leather that took you about 3-4

hours of real work to make, but still be proud cause you made it

yourself, and saved yourself about 20-50 dollars on leather. :-)

 

Hope this helped!!!

Have a nice day!!!

Robert

Hugewheels at juno.com

 

 

[submitted by: "Alderton, Philippa" <phlip at morganco.net>]

From: Peter Adams <adamspf at erols.com>

To: medieval-leather at egroups.com <medieval-leather at egroups.com>

Date: Thursday, December 23, 1999 1:23 PM

Subject: [medieval-leather] Re: Fw: [FTF] Oak Bark Tanning

 

David Horvath wrote

> Tarrach here,

>

> Robert wrote:

> <<SNIP> I don't think this is how it was done in period.  If I remember they used

> vats to tan and it took them MUCH longer.  Usually a couple of months,

> but I am not patient enough for that.  Sooner or later I might, but not

> any time soon.>>

>

> First, have you read any accounts of how leather was tanned in period.  I

am currently attempting this myself (as an entry for an arts and sciences

competition for the SCA) and am looking for reference material.  Second, any

idea as to why would it take longer to do in vats than in ...say the

rubbermaid tub I am using?  Was their process chemically different than

yours?  Do you think your method was more similar the methods used by

non-comercial tanneries in period?  I am currently reading Farmer Boy (by

Laura Ingles-Wilder) to my son (great books to learn a bit about how things

were done around the tlate 1800s).  In it, it describes Mr Wilder bringing

down some of his hides for the traveling cobbler to use to make shoes for

his family.  I thought that was suggestive of the possibility that he had

tanned them himself after butchering rather than having to go out and

purchase them.  It would seems to me that your method (reasonably simple in

both techniques, supplies and tools) would

> be the method of choice for such "cottage duties."  Anyone else care to

join in?

>

> Robert

> Hugewheels at juno.com

 

My best suggestion for a resource would be to read the first couple of pages

of the chapter "Leather" by John Cherry, in _English Medieval Industries_

    There are many steps for this process by Dr Cherry's work.

 

1. Clean the hides of animal refuse (dung, blood and preservative salt)

2. Prepare for hair removal by decomposition, urine, or a wood ash/lime liquor

3. Scrape the hide to remove hair, over a beam

4. Wash and "open up the skins using either the alkaline bating, puering, or

mastering process or the acidic raising or drenching process. In the first

the skins were immersed in a warm infusion of bird droppings of dog dung

which removed the lime and gave the hide structure a softer more flexible

grain. The drenching process, which also removed lim, treated the hides in

liquors prepared by fermenting barley or rye often with stale beer or urine

added."  Cherry comments further on how this made tanners unsavory neighbors

<G>

5. Wash the skins again, and divide the hide into different grades, coarse

and fine, to prevent a "thinning" of the tanning liquor by having the coarse

portions absorb the most of the active principle.

6. Tanning phase one: daily agitation and removal of the hide from a weak

bath of Oak bark liquor, until it showed a "satisfactory" color.

7. Tanning phase two: long term soaking in an Oak liquor bath, for upwards

of a year.  Thinner leather might be soaked for perhaps 9 months.

 

This is a rather cursory restatement of the information on pages 296 and 297

of _English Medieval Industries_ ed. John Blair and Nigel Ramsey, Hambleton

Press, 1991.  If you can get a copy I highly recommend it as your first

source for research on many medieval crafts from glass to stone, to textile,

as each chapter on a craft is written by one of the leading lights in the

field, and each chapter is heavily footnoted, with a professional's

bibliography of the field appended.  If you cannot get a copy yourself (it

ran $80 dollars at Barnes and Noble) you may be able to get it by

interlibrary loan, however this ONE book is far more valuable, in my

opinion, than several other cheaper books.  It will provide a basic

reference to 15 medieval crafts, each, as I say, with a map to the best

documents available in the field.  I knew I was getting somewhere in my wood

research when I noted I had obtained or read almost all of the non-journal

citations in the article.  This resource is 9 years old

now, and will not have the latest research, but it remains a powerful tool.

Make the effort to see it, you will be glad you did.

Peter

 

 

[submitted by: "Alderton, Philippa" <phlip at morganco.net>]

From: Peter Adams <adamspf at erols.com>

To: medieval-leather at egroups.com <medieval-leather at egroups.com>

Date: Thursday, December 23, 1999 1:23 PM

Subject: [medieval-leather] Re: Fw: [FTF] Oak Bark Tanning

 

David Horvath wrote

> Tarrach here,

>

> Robert wrote:

> <<SNIP> I don't think this is how it was done in period.  If I remember they used

> vats to tan and it took them MUCH longer.  Usually a couple of months,

> but I am not patient enough for that.  Sooner or later I might, but not

> any time soon.>>

>

> First, have you read any accounts of how leather was tanned in period.  I

am currently attempting this myself (as an entry for an arts and sciences

competition for the SCA) and am looking for reference material.  Second, any

idea as to why would it take longer to do in vats than in ...say the

rubbermaid tub I am using?  Was their process chemically different than

yours?  Do you think your method was more similar the methods used by

non-comercial tanneries in period?  I am currently reading Farmer Boy (by

Laura Ingles-Wilder) to my son (great books to learn a bit about how things

were done around the tlate 1800s).  In it, it describes Mr Wilder bringing

down some of his hides for the traveling cobbler to use to make shoes for

his family.  I thought that was suggestive of the possibility that he had

tanned them himself after butchering rather than having to go out and

purchase them.  It would seems to me that your method (reasonably simple in

both techniques, supplies and tools) would

> be the method of choice for such "cottage duties."  Anyone else care to

join in?

>

> Robert

> Hugewheels at juno.com

 

My best suggestion for a resource would be to read the first couple of pages

of the chapter "Leather" by John Cherry, in _English Medieval Industries_

    There are many steps for this process by Dr Cherry's work.

 

1. Clean the hides of animal refuse (dung, blood and preservative salt)

2. Prepare for hair removal by decomposition, urine, or a wood ash/lime liquor

3. Scrape the hide to remove hair, over a beam

4. Wash and "open up the skins using either the alkaline bating, puering, or

mastering process or the acidic raising or drenching process. In the first

the skins were immersed in a warm infusion of bird droppings of dog dung

which removed the lime and gave the hide structure a softer more flexible

grain. The drenching process, which also removed lim, treated the hides in

liquors prepared by fermenting barley or rye often with stale beer or urine

added."  Cherry comments further on how this made tanners unsavory neighbors

<G>

5. Wash the skins again, and divide the hide into different grades, coarse

and fine, to prevent a "thinning" of the tanning liquor by having the coarse

portions absorb the most of the active principle.

6. Tanning phase one: daily agitation and removal of the hide from a weak

bath of Oak bark liquor, until it showed a "satisfactory" color.

7. Tanning phase two: long term soaking in an Oak liquor bath, for upwards

of a year.  Thinner leather might be soaked for perhaps 9 months.

 

This is a rather cursory restatement of the information on pages 296 and 297

of _English Medieval Industries_ ed. John Blair and Nigel Ramsey, Hambleton

Press, 1991.  If you can get a copy I highly recommend it as your first

source for research on many medieval crafts from glass to stone, to textile,

as each chapter on a craft is written by one of the leading lights in the

field, and each chapter is heavily footnoted, with a professional's

bibliography of the field appended.  If you cannot get a copy yourself (it

ran $80 dollars at Barnes and Noble) you may be able to get it by

interlibrary loan, however this ONE book is far more valuable, in my

opinion, than several other cheaper books.  It will provide a basic

reference to 15 medieval crafts, each, as I say, with a map to the best

documents available in the field.  I knew I was getting somewhere in my wood

research when I noted I had obtained or read almost all of the non-journal

citations in the article.  This resource is 9 years old

now, and will not have the latest research, but it remains a powerful tool.

Make the effort to see it, you will be glad you did.

 

Peter

 

 

Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2003 16:33:42 -0600

From: Chuck and Rhonda Leggett <RLEGGETT at austin.rr.com>

Subject: Re: [Ansteorra] deer hide tanning

To: "Kingdom of Ansteorra - SCA, Inc." <ansteorra at ansteorra.org>

 

> A co-worker of mine that does black powder hunting is giving me a complete

> untreated deer hise in about 4 hours.  How do I tan it?  

 

> Ld. Skerri

 

Tandy Leather (or, The Leather Factory) carries a complete tanning kit -

"Tannery in a Box," I think it's called.  They also have a tanning "cream"

which is much less involved.  I haven't used either of these yet, but for

longevity/durability I think I would opt for the "Box."  It is much more

involved, but it is a real tanning system, and it will do two average deerhides.

Also, check out Braintan (dot-com?); it is an excellent source of

information.

 

Lord Marion de la Massue

House of Brick.

 

<the end>



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