Dec 10 2011

Skins for Water and Warmth

Published by at 4:43 pm under Expeditions and Experiences

Lately I’ve been experimenting a lot with a more refined way of working skins. Most of it is based on native Siberian tanning, just utilizing stone tools instead. I will not give you all the details of the process as of yet, but briefly show you one of two new tools which removes the need for sandpaper or pumice for removing the membrane.

Reindeer (and deer skins in general) are very sensitive when tanning hair on. The sharpness of the tool is important, otherwise you will put a lot of strain on the grain and produce a spotted piece of fur or in the best case scenario; eskimo tan. Eskimo tan is super soft, but the durability of the clothing is not satisfactory if you don’t shoot enough caribou to make a new set of clothing every year or two.

The scraper is made of flint, but any knappable stone can be used:

They don’t seem to need resharpening very often at all. This small one I use as a dry scraper and as a stretcher on small skins such as leg skins. I also have a big one that acts as a stretcher on bigger skins.

On the veidemann course this year, following the tradition, the students made a moose skin currach. I had to use it when crossing the lake a few times recently. The lake was just starting to freeze over and I had to break my way through at some spots.


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