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Bark Tanning: page 7

Softening

"All softening processes begin when the tanned skins are partly dry and are continued until they are fully dry and sufficiently flexible."

A.B. Farnham 

        

Contents


Intro & History
Tannins & Tannin Sources
Hide Preparation
Making the Bark Solution
Soaking
Currying
Softening & Finishing

Mildly Soft: Hides that you want mildly flexible can be rolled on a table with the hands using considerable pressure. How you do this rolling will affect the grain's texture. According to Steven & Tamara, "If the hide is rolled up each way with the grain inside, an "orange-peel" texture results. If the hide is maintained flat or rolled with the grain out, the surface remains flatter." The grain side can also be rubbed with a weak soap solution and then scrubbed with a piece of glass to produce a tight and shiny grain. In the old days, grain patterns were made with specialized tools called "grain-rollers". 

Softer: Only hides for which you want a soft and stretchy texture are 'softened' anything like brain tan is. This is usually limited to thinner skins that haven't been tanned very 'full'. They may be softened by drawing them across a dull edge (like a staker) or wire, as well as pulled and stretched by hand. You probably wouldn't want to use a cable as that will rough up the surface. Up to a point, the more you work it, the softer the finished skin will be. If you have just barely tanned it through, you may need to soften it as rigorously, or nearly so, as you would for brain tanning. That is Doug & Lynx's experience at least.



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