We arrived in Flat Rock, NC around 9 am for Firefly’s intensive. AV and JV managed to acquire enough money to attend the Hide Tanning Class. DV will be joining us on Wednesday for the main event. We are staying down the street from Kanuga and about four miles from Carl Sandburg’s Home.
Natalie Bogwalker is our instructor. She has spent many hours tanning and then sewing her own buckskin clothes. Her personality allowed the boys to feel like trying something smelly and strenuous.
The first step was to stand around the tanning tarp and allow Natalie pick your hid. Slowly hides emerged from the smelly, murky depths to be spread in front of people.
We got to it.
Stretching the hid over the bench, the boys began to learn how to scrape of the hair and the grain. JV’s doe had its hair attached while AV’s buck’s hair had “slipped” (fallen out as the hide ripens). A doe is easier to work but its skin is thinner, while the buck’s skin is thicker and used for coats, pants, and shoes. It is very difficult to work.
To protect the boy’s from the smelly hair the boys are dressed in abattoir’s aprons.
Our day was made more pleasant by the swarms of butterflies. AV was wondering if they were attracted to the salts in the hair. The pretty camp facility has been a summer camp for children from the early 1930’s until this year. This year private organizations are renting the camp by the week.
They used old planer blades with lengths of hoses inserted on the ends for handles. Holding the blade at a 45 to 75 degree angle with locked wrists, begin vigorously scraping the hide with firm, short strokes.
The hide feels smooth when the hair is removed but the grain is still there. This is not what is wanted. It visually becomes less “white” and more “tan”.
We worked for several hours intently – straight through a squall – to remove as much hair as possible today.
We also spent time gathering “punky” wood for the third day’s step. It must be dry so JV worked to pull a part the gathered wood to make sure it will be dry.
Our hands still have a bit of stench to them. But we are ready for an early smart tomorrow to complete the first step and move onto the second step.
We are having a great time.