Oct 31 2007
Thank you very much for your donation and all of your comments Marc!
This is the first pelt I have ever braintanned, and to be honest, I am quite pleased with the results. The fox is a cub, shot in early autumn. Fur isn’t all that great and the skin was so thin that the danger of ripping the skin was evident, but it worked. It was case skinned and was kept like that all the way until completion.
Fleshing a fox isn’t the most lovely task in the world to put it mildly, fox stinks! You will get used to the smell though. Flesh it over something, use a smooth surface so not to poke any holes through the skin or rip off hair. Use a chopping motion. Try to get off all the flesh, fat and membrane. With as thin a skin as this, it was nervewrecking though, since only the hair roots seemed to be left on the back. If you get too scared, don’t mind some membrane. If you use a staking post or similar later during softening, it will break up.
Next, smear the solution you want to tan it with on the hide. I first applied some smashed eggs. I know I should have mixed them with a little temperate water for better penetration, but I was too lazy to boil any… I then softened the skin by stretching it between my hands and across the knee. I didn’t bother too much with the parts of the skin with little use, like the legs, tail and face. Some spots didn’t soften up well, so I took a second application on those places, with trout brains. That softened things up very nicely! I hope you don’t bother too much that the hide being softened in the pic is the roe deer hide. The process is the same.
I didn’t smoke the skin more than absolutely required to achieve the advantages of this process. Not of any particular reason, just that I ran out of punk wood bits to smoke it with. Make a fire, take out some embers and mix them with the punk. I made this skirt out of birch bark.
Tie up the tail and feet to make sure they aren’t scorched. You’ll have to monitor the embers closely, so that they don’t flare up or set fire to the skirt. If you can see the embers growing strong or that holding above it is too hot for comfort, sprinkle a little more punk wood ontop of it to smolder it.
That’s pretty much the process. The back being almost all hair roots will not become of a “tanned” colour when it is this thin, but remain black. The belly skin on the other hand, got a nice, light colour.