The original + natural way to create leather is through plants. Bark-tanning is this method, which turns animal skin into colourful leather due to the plant cell constituent called tanning (also known as tannic acid). Tannins are part of the building blocks of all plant life and act as the immune system of trees, shrubs, and plants. They are astringent molecules that have been used in herbal medicine and hide tanning around the world for millennia.
This is a story of the deep time roots of leather’s origins, historical importance, and contemporary resurgence. It weaves a narrative of co-evolution by people, plants, and animals through the ages and into current cultural and colonial contexts. Bark-tanned leather is a complex tanning methods but is accessible as a beginner project.
We will cover ethical harvesting of bark and plants and talk about the animal skins most common to this craft: fish skin, goat skin, and deer hide. We will lightly touch on commercial leather and what “chrome tanning” and “veg tanning” mean, but mainly we will focus on how-to create your won natural leather in your home or backyard.Techniques for softening, handy tools, and at-home infrastructure setups are explored to help support localized, at-home tanning projects.
Cost: $0-$70 on a sliding scale
Guide to the sliding scale:
$70 – If you are able to pay for “wants” and spend little time worried about securing necessities, and.or if this offering strikes you as a moment to make an extra donation to support the sliding scale. Your contribution co-creates our community financial reciprocity, you belong here.
$50 – If you have access to steady income and can meet your basic needs, you belong here.
$25 – If you are tackling debt and are living paycheque to paycheque and/or struggle to maintain access to basic needs, you belong here and deserve a community that honours this price as equal of an economic offering as the highest tier.