Pelts should be soaked in several lots of clean tepid water for at least three hours. Thick, old skins will require longer soaking. Care must be taken however, that they are not over-soaked and the hair becomes loose. When softened, the skin should be laid over a roller above which a blunt knife is fixed which scrapes off excess tissue and fat. Sufficient skin however must be left to avoid tearing. Natural greases and oils must be worked out of the skin before dressing, which is done in luke warm water by gentle squeezing. Pelts should never be twisted or wrung. A little benzene should be used to remove remaining dirt or stains.
The actual dressing is as follows: Use 110g of chrome alum, 50g of washing soda and 230g of dextrin per skin. Each of these materials has to be dissolved in a separate container using about 800ml of water in each case.
To make the tanning liquid, take about 150ml each of the three liquids and add one to the other slowly stirring all the time. Half of this liquid is tipped into a bowl with another quart of water. Immerse the skin in the liquid, work it about for a while and then leave it for three hours, occasionally moving the skin in the liquid. Then add the other half of the mixture and leave the pelt overnight.
By morning, the pelt should be tanned and will have acquired a bluish colour. It will have to be washed and soaked for half an hour in chalk and water and then washed in clear water again.
|Emulsion: a fine dispersion of minute droplets of one liquid in another in which it is not soluble.|
To soften the pelt, make up an emulsion using half an ounce of liquid soap and half an ounce of neat’s-foot oil to a pint of hot water. When this is cool put the pelt in and work it about well. The pelt can be left in this emulsion for approximately 12 hours, after which it is washed under the tap. When it has been thoroughly rinsed it can be hung up in a warm place (but not in the sun) to dry. The pelt must then be worked backwards and forwards over the back of a chair once the skin side is partially dry but the fur side is still damp. The blue green colour will disappear as this process is done.
Figure 2: Angora Rabbits