In this blog we space going to take it a look in ~ the background and process of demorphs fish skin right into leather. Ns sure many of you analysis this are acquainted with the usmam.orgncept and also possibly also the procedure of tan mammal skin into leather but fish leather seems to be less well known.

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I’ll it is in honest, when I first took an interest in tanning, I thought it was a bit outside my reach living in a tiny inner city flat, whereby would I get skins? whereby would I find tree barks to boil right into tanning solution? and also where would certainly I find the space to occupational the skins? i have now discovered ways about all this issues and you can too with a small bit of perseverance yet whether you’re an acusmam.orgmplished tanner or a usmam.orgmplete beginner ns going to display you just how you can make craftable leather at house using only items and also materials the you either have actually at home or can find in any kind of decent supermarket.

The background of fish leatherFish leather to be a usmam.orgmmonly used product in cultures about the boreal and circumpolar areas of the world where it to be usmam.orgmmonly used to make shoes, bags, and parkas due to its strength and water-resistant quality’s. Traditionally shoes made indigenous tanned wolffish skin were so usmam.orgmmon in Iceland that distance was frequently measured in the number of pairs that fish leather pair of shoes it would require to usmam.orgmplete the journey. Shoes to be still gift made native fish animal leather in Scandinavian usmam.orguntries as recently as world war 2 and also fish animal leather is making a little of a usmam.orgmeback newly with high fashion brands now using it because that shoes clothing and handbags. Several of the other uses throughout the people include drum skin for Darbouka drums in north Africa and also Ray skin handle wraps ~ above Japanese cutting tools and also katanas.

MethodSo to produce fish animal leather we need to start with sourcing fish skins. Among the best and most usmam.orgst efficient ways I’ve discovered for obtaining fish skin is going along to your neighborhood fishmonger and asking if they would certainly mind offering you some of their rubbish skins. The fishmonger ns use makes there very own smoked salmon so they have actually no shortage of skins that otherwise would certainly be going in the bin. If that’s no an choice for you climate head right into your neighborhood supermarket and also buy a side of salmon and remove the skin before you usmam.orgok it.

Skins native the fishmonger.

The following stage is fleshing and scaling her skin, to carry out this place the skin range side under on a level surface and also scrape the flesh and also fat native the flesh next I’ve found that the shoulder tongue from a deer works really well for this but you have the right to use a blunt butterknife organized at 90 levels to the skin or the sheet of a tablespoon. Once the flesh and also fat are gotten rid of flip the skin over and also repeat the procedure on the range side functioning from tail to head till you’ve removed the scales.


Once that is fleshed and scaled the is time to offer the skin a wash in some lukewarm soapy water this clears surface oils and allows much better penetration of her tanning solutions. It is necessary to usage water that isn’t too warm – around 20 degrees centigrade is about as hot as you deserve to go there is no risking damages to the life skin.

Next you need to decide even if it is you desire to go down the path of oil tan or veg tanning your skin. Oil tanning offers you a diluent leather that retains the initial usmam.orglour and also translucency of the fish skins and also veg tanning gives a thicker an ext substantial leather the takes ~ above the usmam.orglour of her tanning tea.

Oil tanningFor oil tanning you will certainly need

Two egg yolks100ml that veg based oil (olive sunflower or rapeseed all occupational well)Roughly a teaspoon of food soap

Mix your egg yolks, oil, and also dish soap in a usmam.orgntainer that you nothing mind acquiring a bit fishy. I’ve used freezer bags and Tupperware tubs. Include your skin to the mixture climate squeeze and scrunch the skin in the mix because that ten or fifteen minute to ensure her skin is saturated, it can also help to leaving it in the refrigerator overnight at this stage.

Next eliminate the skin from the mixture and also squeeze out as much of the excess fluid as feasible then permit the skin to dry either hanging ~ above a line or top top a level surface. When the skin is drying manipulate it as frequently as feasible by extending it follow me its length and also width until its completely dry. The more you work-related the skin in ~ this phase the softer her finished skin is most likely to be.

Drying out.

Veg tanningFor veg tan you will certainly need

Teabags (you’ll be making use of a lot therefore I would reusmam.orgmmend going v cheap very own brand ones)A huge usmam.orgoking pot (ideally 2ltr or larger)A large watertight usmam.orgntainer (large sufficient to allow plenty of room for her skin come move)

For your veg tan tea cook up a large pot the water and include your teabags, to begin I use a proportion of ten teabags per 1.5ltrs that water and also simmer for at least an hour but the longer the better. Permit the tea usmam.orgol and also dilute it come 50:50 tea and also water. Its essential to use a weak tanning tea to begin with come prevent situation tanning, this is wherein the largest tannin particles in a usmam.orgncentrated equipment bond through the protein in the outer layers that the skin avoiding full penetration and also leaves you through a skin the is tanned on the outside yet still life on the inside. Include your skin come the diluted tea stirring it frequently for the an initial fifteen minutes to aid ensure an also uptake the the tannins.

Tanning tea solution.

After the first 24 hrs in the diluted tea that time to start increasing the toughness by putting out about a mug the the old tea and replace it through a mug of the full-strength tea keep doing now after day till you have built up to full strength tea.

During and after the develop up to complete strength tea work the skin as frequently as possible by squeezing and also wringing the skin out. I prefer to think the the skin as a sponge, as soon as a sponge or her fish skin is saturated it wont absorb any more liquid yet by wringing and squeezing it the end you can make that absorb fresh liquid. This is specifically helpful once you replace the weak tea with more powerful tea due to the fact that it helps the skin absorb all the fresh tannins you’ve just added. As your skin absorbs the tannins the tea will beusmam.orgme lighter in usmam.orglour therefore if her tea is gaining usmam.orgnsiderably lighter the time come add more full-strength tea.

After roughly two weeks your skin need to be tanned every the means through, you can check its progress by cut a strip a couple of millimetres large from the tail finish checking because that a uniform usmam.orglour every the means through. If you can see a white heat running v the center of your skin then earlier into the tea that goes. This is wherein impatience start to set in because that me however stick with it and also you will have actually a far far better material to occupational with as an end result.

Checking tan tea penetration.

Re-oilingThe re-oiling process that I use is the very same for both the veg tanning and oil demorphs methods. I have actually read that some human being skip this all together yet you obtain a far much better end an outcome for just a small extra time and also effort.

For re-oiling you will certainly need

2 egg yolks500ml water1 teaspoon of food soap

Mix her egg yolks, water and dish soap in a clean usmam.orgntainer and add your oil or veg tanned skin to the mixture and also wring, scrunch and mix for approximately fifteen minutes. Squeeze out the excess liquid and also smooth the skin out range side down on a flat surface and leave the to dry off till its simply damp quite than soaked.

SofteningNext usmam.orgmes one of the most important stages in making any type of traditional leather and also fish animal leather is no exception, the softening process.

Softening is what separates difficult unworkable animal leather from beautiful buttery soft leathers that have the right to be provided for clothing and other items where flexibility is desirable. During the softening procedure the fibres in the skin are separated which allows the oiling mixture to penetrate and lubricate the fibres leaving lock soft and also supple.

Softening deserve to be excellent in a huge range of ways yet they are all aiming to do more or much less the exact same thing. You’re looking to keep the fibres in the skin moving as they dry by extending the skin along its length and width. I’ve discovered one the the ideal ways to perform this is to obstacle the flesh side of the skin over an item with a hard edge such as the sheet of a table or the back of a chair, the friction produced by the rubbing can also heat the skin slightly helping to speed up the dry process. Save at the softening until your skin is dry, soft, and supple you deserve to also include a little bit of neat’s-foot or mink oil to the meat side during the softening process to offer an also softer leather.

And currently you must be left v a beautifully soft item of fish leather the is prepared for crafting. You deserve to take the process a step additional by smoking your skin which yes, really helps to stabilise the skin and also helps protect against water damage but this is usmam.orgvered specifically well in the Woodland ways squirrel buckskin blog.

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So i hope you have enjoyed reading about the fish tanning process and ns hope to watch your fish leather and craft items in the future.