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Old 09-23-2014, 12:10 AM
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MotherCharlotte MotherCharlotte is offline
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Default Has anyone ever preserved a sheep skin?

I'm wondering if anyone here has ever preserved a sheep skin, I mean as a throw rug. We are about to send 5 lambs to the abattoir and I'd love to preserve their skins as their wool is a lovely mottled black and grey. I've been told I can have the skins for free so I really don't want them to go to waste.

I've been looking online and in my books at home, and there are no shortage of recipes out there for tanning sheep skins. My problem is rather than I have no idea which recipe to use. Every book and website says something different!

So I thought it wouldn't hurt to ask here if anyone knew anything about this.
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Old 09-25-2014, 03:57 PM
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Well, it looks like nobody's done this before. There are many recipes out there for the tanning process - some use sulfuric acid or oxalic acid - but I think I'm going to use the method in the Reader's Digest book, Back to Basics - which uses salt and alum.

I'll be getting the pelts this weekend, and I'll start by salting them down for a few days.

In case anybody is interested, I'll take some photos of the process and post them here.

I'm a bit nervous about trying this, but I feel good that I'm not letting the skins go to waste. It seems such a shame that the abattoir usually throws them in the garbage.
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Old 09-25-2014, 08:38 PM
susang Female susang is offline
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I didn't want to answer because I only did one 30 years ago. I had done a few rabbit skins before that. I don't remember much used salt and alum, it seems with the lamb skin I had to make sure to get all the fat off. I don't remember if that was before or after salt. I had a friend who had done it before and I thought I had gotten it all but I hadn't, so more work to get it right. Also whatever stage you work it to keep it pliable is important it takes a lot of muscle. It was so worth it we had it as a throw/rug until a couple years ago and even then a few pieces went into making bike seats more comfortable. The bike seats got left out in the rain and they're gone. I saw a beautiful lamb skin a few weeks ago for sale it was $275.00, what I remember of all the work $275.00 is a deal. I wish I had done more when I was younger and had the skins available.
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Old 09-26-2014, 03:03 PM
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You might find some useful information here:
http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/for...g#.U96ZRZxhT6M
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Old 10-05-2014, 12:23 AM
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Well, I got the skins today from the abattoir. This was a week after the animals were actually butchered, so I was nervous that they would stink. But it was okay, they put enough salt that there was no bad smell. Well okay, they smelled like wet sheep, but that doesn't bother me anymore, lol.

Anyway, I shook off some of the extra salt that was already there as it was all wet and clumped together, and put a thick layer of my own salt on each pelt. This was just regular table salt I bought in a 50 lb bag from the country store.

I stacked the pelts on an old pallet.



Then I placed the pallet on a bit of an angle so they could drain, and put a tarp on top of it. I plan to let these pelts drain and dry out for a week before I begin the tanning process. It might be a bit more if it takes me longer to get the alum, which I'm ordering online. It is my understanding that once the pelts have been heavily salted they will keep for at least a few weeks, probably longer since our weather is quite chilly right now, close to freezing tonight.

Sorry if the picture is too big - I tried to resize it but it didn't seem to work.

I'll post more once I start the actual tanning process (although apparently, using alum and salt isn't technically tanning, it's a cross between making leather and rawhide.) Of course, I'll have to flesh the skins too. Some of them had very little fat left on, some had quite a bit, so I know it will be a bit of work to get it all off.
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