29 Nov 2013

Notes on curing skins to use for fly tying.

Some of us live in areas of the world, or travel to, where there's hunting going on wich usually means that it's not overly complicated to get hold of some furs and skins.

This is one way of curing the skins so that you can use the furs for tying.
I've do this mainly with the "scrap" parts of the animals, parts that don't really have another use.

I've used the inside of mooses ears (the outside is great for warm hats or mittens but the inside has less hair and really only the edges of the ear has a use) and with a hare mask.
The same principle can be used with any skins from game or fowl.
The hare, by the way was supplied by a neighbour. Came knocking on the door and asked if i wanted a hare.
And out came the knife. It was a great dinner.


You need a couple of things.

1. A sharp knife for skinning. Go to a hunters forum or such for skinning lessons.

2. A slightly dull knife for skraping the skins (I use a special tool but as not everyone have tanning gear at home we'll make due with a dull knife.

3. Salt. Regular salt.

Start by skinning the animal and cutting away the piece you want to save for tanning and scrape them, put them in a freezer and then proceed to the pieces you just want to cure.
Mind that you don't cut holes in the skin,you want a pretty product.

Scrape the skins, get rid of sinews and meat.
Wash them in Cold water (always use cold water when dealing with raw skins, they can get rock hard from warm water) with some soap or such to get rid of the blood.
Wringe them to get rid of excess water.

Scrub the meat side with salt.
Seriously, a lot of salt, you can't really overdo it.

Place the skin somwhere with a lot of air circulation.
Not nescesserily warm, just an airflow that helps lift the moisture out and away.

The hairs will probably be lumped together but no worries.
Once dried you can just brush the skin a bit and it looks great.

This is one of many methods to cure a skin.
You wont get a smooth and flexible skin, that takes different tanning methods and softening etc.

But it's great for fly tying.

Winter hare. About an hour of work, enough fur for hundreds of flies.

No comments:

Post a Comment