I was keeping a beautiful beaver hide for a friend and I
think I may have ruined it and need some help to salvage it
if possible. I don't know anything about tanning, so please
excuse my discription. The hide had been cleaned and
stretched and was very light in color and soft. It was
rolled and tied with a leather strap.
It was supple, and bendable but not
soft like a piece of cloth. I decided to hang it in my house
and unrolled it and found the fur dirty, so I got the bright
Idea - to shampoo it, which I did and the fur looks great but
the skin is darkened and hard. I did have enough sence to
lay it out flat to dry. Can I use some of the leather oils
to soften it again or will that ruin the fur. The fur belongs
to a Cherokee friend if that enlightens you as to how it might
have orginally treated. And no I have not told her what I did
to the hide, I thought maybe I might be able to undo the mess
I made. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks. Mary
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Chances are it's an untaned hide. Send it to a tannery and they will turn it into a great skin.
I think Gerry is right! You probably had a dried skin to begin with - probably salted and a bit flexible - but not tanned. When you washed it, you removed the salt or whatever (maybe Borax) they had in it and now its raw again and when it dried its got the dark and hardened look. Thats typical.
You have several choices. Get it tanned by a Tannery, tan it yourself, or rewet it, salt it, and dry it again - but I'd talk to the lady first and get her opinion. Obviously, you were trying to help her.
the beav was brain-tanned, soap/oil tanned, or even alum tanned. Alum washes out easily, leaving a raw skin. Try www.braintan.com for help with it.