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An Overview of Bison Robe Tanning: page 1

Braintanning Buffalo Robes:
Mr. BisonAn Overview

by Wes Housler
© 1999


wrapped up in a buffalo robe, complete with quillwork
Wrapped up in a Buffalo Robe tanned by Wes Housler with quillwork by Chris Ravenshead.

I'm honored that Matt has asked me to write an article for his buffalo page. I would like to introduce myself and give you some of my background. I started tanning in '73 or '74; the dark ages compared with the availability of today's information. I started with deer as most do and progressed to elk...but on the horizon loomed the buffalo robe I saw behind the museum glass, elusive like a rainbow.

Looking for information I researched any old account I could find, and armed with a couple paragraphs I set out to tan a robe. To make a long story short I'll pass by the first ten robes and just say my learning curve was more similar to a horizontal line than a curve. Even so I could see definite progress and my results were improving.

With little in the way of help from like minded peer's (thank goodness for sites like this today) I continued forward. After I had finished 50 or so hides, I finally started getting a feeling for what to do and what was happening. Please remember as I lay down the rest of this article that I have learned to tan through trial and error. My path has been one way and narrow-minded (anyone who knows me will attest to that) since I lacked support from fellow tanners and had no one to give me fresh insights. I hope most that from this, new people will emerge with new ideas concerning the tanning of buffalo hides and my learning line will start resembling a curve.

Wes's video
Wes's excellent video is one of the few items we've chosen to sell in the Store

Not to brag (maybe a little) but to justify Matt's trust in me and because of the credence people put on numbers, I will tell you that I have tanned well over 500 buffalo hides, and built 3 buffalo hide tipis. This article will cover some of my insights into the nuances while working with these hides, rather than the step by step process of tanning one, it would take a book or video tape to do that (shameless plug). Funny that should come up, since I just so happen to have a tape available called of all things "How to Brain-Tan a Buffalo Hide".





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