Zack Hribar came over to show me his first batch of bark tanned leather. We shot an informal video talking about them and vegetable tanning options, troubleshooting the hides, stories and that sort of thing. It was fun. Zack is an enthusiastic new bark tanner, check him out on instagram as z._hriack_bar
In this segment we finally begin tanning the skin. Vegetable tanning is one of the neatest things I've ever learned. This is the most exciting part where the hide fiber is transformed into leather. Leather is not skin or tannic acid, it's a unique material made of the marriage of those two. It can be left in the weather for years, and though it may become moldy and damaged it will not rot away for a very long time. There are pieces in my compost piles that I pull out and throw back in every year just to see how long they will last. The first piece of leather I tanned was a rotten piece of skin that I should have buried, but I had some oak bark sitting around so I made a solution and tossed it in. The tan almost seemed to heal up rotten parts of the skin and knit them together. I still have that piece of leather. I left it hanging in a tree outside for a year or two once, but it appears pretty much unfazed.
Moving along with Part 4 of making axe strops from scratch for the cordwood challenge. As some will remember, two of the hides for the project were stolen by a bear or bears. The remaining hide is now ready to flesh and begin the deliming process. In this video I finish scraping over the skin to remove as much hair as possible and then re-flesh it. Next it is rinsed and scraped alternately to remove all of the lime and return the skin to it's normal flaccid state before tanning. Also below is my original video on unhairing skins for tanning.