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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 » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:33 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

__________ Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:33 pm __________

20 hides all done and wonderful. I feel so rich! :lol:

I think the first breaking in the dryer is important so will extend the time they tumble with the blocks to as long as the first batch. I didn't give the second batch as long as the first and they were a bit harder to rebreak.

Not so much that they were difficult, just not as easy as the first batch.

Will also look at changing the hand cream, using a bargain kind now but would rather step it up to an organic version. Better smell for the hides and better for my hands.

The newest problem? EVERY KID WANTS A BLANKET!!! So 3 lap throws to get done before my one. *sigh* Never mind, once I get so much practice sewing hides into blankets, mine is going to be perfect!

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Re: An update on tea and dryer tanning

Post Number:#9  Unread postby Ozarkansas » Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:05 pm


So I've never tanned a hide before. I have 3 in the freezer and 6 more I'm going to do at the end of this month. I've ordered alum but this method is intriguing! Did you do anything to them before the first soaking? Or were they just green?
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Re: An update on tea and dryer tanning

Post Number:#10  Unread postby GBov » Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:12 am


Ozarkansas wrote:So I've never tanned a hide before. I have 3 in the freezer and 6 more I'm going to do at the end of this month. I've ordered alum but this method is intriguing! Did you do anything to them before the first soaking? Or were they just green?


I first flesh the hide really well and nail it - fur side down - to a board, then let it dry all the way. Because I use three-inch nails I can lift the hide all teh way up to the head of the nail to give good air space between the board and the fur. With a fan blowing on the hide, they are dry in less than a day.

Normally I store dried hides in cedar shavings until I have time to play with them so the drying was for that. No idea if it would work with a green hide but can't see any reason not to try it if you like.

The reason I started drying hides is because they had taken over not only the fridge freezer but also the chest freezer. Once I got them all dried, I found I had over 200 hides taking up food space AND energy to keep frozen. :oops: :lol:

My goal is every dried hide becomes a tanned hide THIS YEAR!!! And no frozen hides at all, yep, they have started creeping into the freezers again, over 25 hides in there to be dried. :roll:

Note: The less you care about the hides you are processing/experimenting with, the better you will do. So when beginning, DON'T use your favorite hides, use the fryers or summer bleached coated ones or the ugly colors.

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Re: An update on tea and dryer tanning

Post Number:#11  Unread postby alforddm » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:16 am


GBov wrote:Note: The less you care about the hides you are processing/experimenting with, the better you will do. So when beginning, DON'T use your favorite hides, use the fryers or summer bleached coated ones or the ugly colors.



:yeahthat:

__________ Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:16 am __________

I got to thinking about this...with the tea tanning, it may be a good idea to start with a dry hide. That way the tea mixture is sucked into the hide as it rehydrates. If someone wants to try with a fresh hide, I'd be interested in knowing if it works.

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Re: An update on tea and dryer tanning

Post Number:#12  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:15 pm


So if I understand correctly.....

Scrape the hide.
Stretch and dry the hide. (with airflow on both sides)
Make a VERY strong tea
Rub strong tea into hide
dry
Rub strong tea into hide
Run in the dryer with wood blocks to break
Likely damp with tea
re-break hide using a wringing instead of stretching/pulling method

??
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Re: An update on tea and dryer tanning

Post Number:#13  Unread postby GBov » Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:45 pm


SarniaTricia wrote:So if I understand correctly.....

Scrape the hide.
Stretch and dry the hide. (with airflow on both sides)
Make a VERY strong tea
Rub strong tea into hide
dry
Rub strong tea into hide
Run in the dryer with wood blocks to break
Likely damp with tea
re-break hide using a wringing instead of stretching/pulling method

??


First, I never scrape a hide, I use scissors instead. If you lay them on the hide and gently cut away the bits you don't want, it works MUCH better - for me at least - than scraping ever did. The connective tissue will lift away from the hide as you cut so with care even the super thin bits near the tail and behind the ears can be done.

Then I stretch and dry the hide with good air flow on both sides. That way I can store them, energy free, for years if needed.

Then I brew up super strong tea and gently wet the hide side with it, giving the hides several goings over until the hides are nice and flexible.

Then allow to dry a bit, not all the way dry but just like a washcloth that has been wrung out really well. Damp like, you know?

Then rub in hand lotion. It works MUCH better than anything else I have ever tried with the bonus that it doesn't make the fur greasy if it gets on it.

Let the hides dry a little bit more and then gently rub them so the lotion is more in the hide than on it.

Then into the dryer with wooden blocks (I cut down a 2x4 into short chunks, nothing longer than 4 inches or they can bind the dryer drum) and let tumble on a HEATLESS NO HEAT NO HEAT cycle. That bit is important! ;)

Let tumble for hours and hours and hours. When the doe hides feel done to you then the entire batch is done. Any that are stiff like bucks or wrinkled up can then be rebroken by hand. Its much easier though and, as they are already tanned, the re-breaking can be done over time. I can get through 3 doe or fryer hides in an evening watching telly or a buck a night, they are much tougher but even they come good in the end.

It has taken me years to work this system out but now that it works, I am getting through my 200 plus backlog of dried hides. At last! :roll:

__________ Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:45 pm __________

Forgot to add, when you are fleshing the hide, have a bowl of water handy to wash the bits off your fingers in. The fleshed bit try to stick to your hands. If you have a dog it will like the bowl of bits.

I use a 30 inch by 4 ft piece of plywood to nail to and, to prevent a large eyesore I had my daughter paint a bright pretty picture on one side and I nail to the other. Two large hides will fit, or three smaller ones.

The other thing is that when you dry the hides, they show patterns like agates. Each one different and all pretty. The patterns go away when they are tanned and hardly show at all when green, its just when they are dry.

Cool huh?

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Re: An update on tea and dryer tanning

Post Number:#14  Unread postby Zass » Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:50 pm


Yep...I'd better get in on this. :D One cool thing about rabbit hides in specific is that they have totally different rules than most other commonly tanned skins. They are mostly non fatty, thinner, dry faster, break faster and take up acid, oil, and I imagine tannins better than thicker pelts do.

I second the hand lotion bit too, except, I prefer to rinse fur with a nice conditioner and rub a little good cocoa butter into the flesh side. Seems like those kinds of products are so often overlooked when it comes to pelts, but, it is still hair and skin. :D

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Re: An update on tea and dryer tanning

Post Number:#15  Unread postby GBov » Sun Jan 28, 2018 1:13 pm


When working with tannins, be ready for your hands to look really dirty. Not just under your nails but the edges as well. My poor kids despair of me, they really do. :oops: :lol:

25 hides belting away in the dryer. Every two or three hours I am taking them all out one by one and flattening them out.

Interesting thing, three of the 25 were only dried last week and they took up the tanning liquid like sponges, they are very very dark while the ones dried for years are only light tan.

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