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An update on tea and dryer tanning

Discussion of fur breeds, tanning pelts, using the furs, marketing.
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An update on tea and dryer tanning

Post Number:#1  Unread postby GBov » Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:05 pm


So the hides I soaked in tea - well, sponged the dried hide side with a very very VERY strong solution of black tea so as to not get the fur wet - and then tumbled in the dryer for hours with wooden blocks finally got either done (as in soft enough for my kids to run off with them :D ) or were tanned but either still very stiff or stiffish and rolled/wrinkled up.

Out of the 10 hides I did, 5 were wonderful and the other 5, not so much.

My brother said as he looked at the toughest old buck hide "You know, if you cut this into shape it would make GREAT insoles for shoes!"

Hmmmmmmmm went my brain!

So I took it and laid it as flat as poss on the table and covered it with a damp towel thinking if I got it a bit damp I could flatten it out nicely for cutting.

VERY INTERESTING THING HAPPENED!!!

Once it was pliable again, I worked it gently to get the flatness I wanted and lo and behold, it was like breaking a hide but only really easy. As it dried I didn't pull it like a fresh one but rolled and twisted it, like wringing out a rag, and sometimes ran it across the back of a chair to aid the flatness thing.

As it was a very old, tough buck hide it didn't turn into a fryer hide by any means but it DID turn into a very nice, albeit stiff, tanned and broken hide.

Have sent it off to my bro so he can try it as insoles for me. I only wear sandals so not much use for me to try it out that way.

The remaining for hides that were too stiff or rolled up in the dryer and have set in wrinkles I have been damping down, one at a time (using my cooled tea bags from my two morning cups of tea, they have just enough moisture in them plus some extra tannins for the hide) till they are just damp enough to work and doing the same thing, roll, twist, flatten, roll in other direction, twist, flatten. But nothing much, long breaks between sessions because I can always dampen it down again if I want.

At one stage, when its feeling more done than less, I rub hand cream on my hands and rub that into the hide. A few more twistings to work that in and its done.

Someone once mentioned repeat breaking of hides but I couldn't imagine how that would work as I was doing conditioned raw hides then instead of actual tanned ones.

I understand it now and fully see how, with several goes like this, a hide could get totally wet and still dry out just fine.

Oh, and, because no chemicals of any kind have touched the fur side of the hides, the fur is as soft as when it was on the rabbit. Soooooo soft and fluffy.

Am now SIX hides done toward the blanket I am making myself, will be doing the start of the next 10 to go into the dryer and have three still to rebreak. The dryer does the first really hard part and then I can finish up each hide in the evening as I needle felt and watch TV.

Really loving this!

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Re: An update on tea and dryer tanning

Post Number:#2  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:54 pm


Really interesting stuff, GBov.

I have only tanned a couple of hides and it must be at least thirty years ago, but your method sounds a lot more pleasant than the salt, alum and neat's foot oil I seem to recall.

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Re: An update on tea and dryer tanning

Post Number:#3  Unread postby GBov » Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:12 pm


Working on the last of the first 10 and will then rummage in the dried hide bag and do another 10. By gum, THIS TIME I will have my blanket!

Only question now, lap throw or queen sized?

I dont know if its just me but alum seems to dry out the fur? I know this way the fur is untouched by anything so its just like it was on the bunny. Including the pee stains, in two cases. :roll:

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Re: An update on tea and dryer tanning

Post Number:#4  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sun Dec 03, 2017 6:27 pm


I think I'd go for a lap robe first. You'll get the pleasure of it sooner and also it's something you'll use when you're awake. Be sure to post a picture when its done!

I wouldn't be surprised if you were right about alum drying out the fur. One was a snowshoe hare hide -- from quite a young animal -- and I recall not being too pleased with the results. The hide itself was as thin as paper. At the time we were mainly interested in experiencing the process.

We played with a lot of old time skills that summer: hearth cookery from scratch, soapmaking, foraging. We turned off the electricity at our get-away in the woods (all but the fridge since we had no cellar or spring house) and generally tried to get an idea of how it felt to live without modern conveniences. David (MidnightCoder) was about 8 years old that summer. We only let him play with toys that a kid back when might have had. We just did this for a week or so, a family activity just for the fun of it.

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Re: An update on tea and dryer tanning

Post Number:#5  Unread postby GBov » Sun Dec 03, 2017 7:06 pm


We had a bit of that after the Hurricane this last summer, 22 days without power! :roll:

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Re: An update on tea and dryer tanning

Post Number:#6  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sun Dec 03, 2017 7:40 pm


GBov wrote:We had a bit of that after the Hurricane this last summer, 22 days without power! :roll:


Ouch! It's not fun if you have no choice! But it seems you came through it with flying colours. :goodjob:

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Re: An update on tea and dryer tanning

Post Number:#7  Unread postby shazza » Sun Dec 03, 2017 7:57 pm


snowshoe hares really just have paper skin. i use a synthetic soak tan and my hare is full of holes because it just shredded when i fleshed it and i could only sew a few of them up. i want to try again with a fresher one and see if it would be different - this guy was shipped to me in summer and was accidentally left in the fridge when defrosting a little too long so it probably didn't help. i was very disappointed, i was looking forward to eating the little guy too :( but in general, wild rabbits have much thinner skins it seems.
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Re: An update on tea and dryer tanning

Post Number:#8  Unread postby GBov » Sun Dec 03, 2017 8:48 pm


MaggieJ wrote:
GBov wrote:We had a bit of that after the Hurricane this last summer, 22 days without power! :roll:


Ouch! It's not fun if you have no choice! But it seems you came through it with flying colours. :goodjob:


It's a great story now but not much fun during! :lol: By gum, I really appreciate my electricity now. :D

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