Question for Bruce Rittel

Submitted by Chris on 11/25/00. ( )

I know that hides tanned using some types of tanning solutions are hard to mount if a year or so has passed since the tanning occurred. My question is that if the method of tanning is unknown, and a hide is given to you that was tanned more than a year previously, is there anything that can be done to make the hide mountable (re-oiling or something else)? Or do you just soak it up and hope for the best?

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Dave Says

This response submitted by Dave Taylor on 11/26/00. ( )

I'd just soak it up and try it.
if it doesn't work right, then try something different.
it's not really critical to know beforehand, because you
could just freeze the skin if you needed to order a product
to relax it.

Good Luck

Soak it up and try it!

This response submitted by Bruce Rittel on 11/26/00. ( )

Dave gave you a good answer - and it isnt because the skin or cape will be hard to mount, its simply because not knowing how it was tanned, you dont know how long it will last. Even using a pickled cape or Alum tanned cape - 1-3 years it will hold up fine, and you shouldnt have any problems. But - if you've gotten a much older cape, and it was simply pickled and oiled, or not tanned properly, it could relax on you, appear OK - and tear apart like paper, due to the acid residual in the leather weakening it over the years. Rarely can you re-tan such unknowns successfully. To do so, you would have to first rewet it, then degrease it to get rid of the tanning oil used, and then take it through the tanning process again. It sometimes works on newly gotten capes - but not the older ones. They're still weak.

One thing I do suggest when working with a cape and you dont know how it was tanned. Play it safe. When you rehydrate it - use a handful of salt (4 ozs. by weight) to each 1 gallon of water. Soak the cape for 30 minutes. Take it out, place it in a plastic bag, tie it off, and then refrigerate it overnight. The next day it should be relaxed, ready to prep and mount. This is the safe way to do it.

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