“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10)
I tan animal skins. I like sheep, and goats and deer are OK. No cows or larger. I typically don’t do smaller skins, but would be willing to give it a go.
Where to buy?
Either contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add you to the queue or visit Bell’s Farm on Whidbey Island. They may have some in stock.
My rate is $100-360 per skin, depending on the finish type, size, quality, and difficulty. A tiny goat skin provided by the customer that is simply stretched and dried will be a lower price than a large sheepskin with thick fleece, that has been chemically tanned for water resistance. The reason for this is the amount of labor and materials that go into producing such skins. Everything is done by hand. Each skin takes 3-8 hours of work to complete.
Skins provided by a customer are usually completed at a reduced price. However, a non-refundable deposit of $50 will be required before I take the skins. This is because sometimes they are mishandled before I get them, and go rancid. I cannot tan a rotten skin. The deposit is in case the skin fails due to no fault of my own, to cover material costs.
Things that will also affect this is how many holes were cut into the skin. Repairing these properly takes time and skill, and if you want them repaired, it will be about $5 for each hole.
If you plan to provide a skin: Have a plan to preserve it as soon as possible. Within 90 minutes during colder months and within 30 minutes in warmer. Fold it skin-to-skin, place it in a trash bag, and stick it in a freezer. If you are planning to deliver same-day, a fridge will be fine. Or, coat the skin side with a layer of granulated salt about 1/4 inch thick at minimum. Scrape off when it has become wet and reapply. This will usually take 5-10 pounds of salt. Remember, if you fail to inhibit bacterial growth, I will keep your $50 for wasting my time.
This option is available, and a little cheaper than the going rate. Keep in mind though, it will not be as flexible as mass produced leathers, due to differences in manufacturing techniques.
Caring for your hide
If you skin is a ‘rawhide’ finish, unworked: it is very delicate and can not get wet. If it does get wet, dry it as soon as you can, and make sure no parts of the skin touch each other while it is drying. You can cover the skin side with salt, and this will preserve it while is dries. This type of skin is not guaranteed against failure, and there is no return on it once sold.
If your skin is a natural “brain” tanned finish: It also can not get wet. A little moisture should be fine, but due to the inconsistency of natural tanning methods, unfortunately I cannot guarantee this type of finish either. This is the most expensive finish type due to the labor involved. I will accept these skins for a return if they are in the same condition they left the shop.
If you skin is a synthetic tan, your skin can get wet and will not rot. It should not stay wet for very long though, as issues like hairs slipping out are likely. Returns accepted if in good condition.
Caring for hair: Wool will compact with use, and it can be brushed out with the same kind of brush and style you would use if the animal was alive. Gentle strokes.
Cleaning: See if your local dry cleaner is familiar with cleaning hides. At home, a dry shampoo may be used. If you can avoid getting the skin wet, do so. Synthetically tanned skins may get wet-cleaned with cool water if they are dried as specified above shortly after.
Your synthetically tanned skin should hold up to normal wear and tear for at least 5 years. This requires that you follow the steps in “Caring for your hide.” The hair should not pull out easily and the skin should not rot. Within 5 years from the month inscribed on your skin, matched with the receipt of purchase, you may return your skin for a refund of the manufacture price. I cannot refund any overhead by a distributor, such as Bell’s Farm. I cannot offer a refund if I have ceased tanning operations. Deer skin for rug use is not guaranteed (Follicles are weak). Special requests are not guaranteed unless expressly stated. Non-serialized hides are not guaranteed. Hides that’s serial number mismatches the characteristics in the record are not guaranteed.