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Feb 16 / Jamie

Fleshing Rabbit Pelts

Sometimes we make lovely, colorful things out of fabric and wool.  Other times our tasks are a bit more . . .gooey?  We have had nine rabbit pelts sitting in the freezer for almost a year.  This week, we brined them and then spent an hour yesterday fleshing them.  We followed the instructions here.  We did this same thing about four years ago and turned the pelts into a quilt and some hats  Fleshing is a kind of gross but oddly satisfying task.  You pull off one layer of skin to get to the layer that will eventually turn into leather.  If you are the kind of person who likes peeling glue from your fingers, this might be a task you would like.  The pelts don’t really smell but are just kind of wet and rubbery.

Now that the layer of flesh has been removed, they will go back in the brine bucket for another week before they get tanned.  Then we will have to figure out what to make from them.  Three were from adult rabbits that we needed to cull so their pelts are large and the leather should be really thick.

You can see the steps we followed below.

Tanning rabbit pelts

Frozen pelts that have been thawing for a few days.

Tanning rabbit pelts

Brine with 1 cup kosher salt, 1 cup ammonium alum and 2 gallons water.

Tanning rabbit pelts

Pelts all stretched out.

Tanning rabbit pelts

Rinsing out the pelts.

Tanning rabbit pelts

Pelts in the brine.  This was put in the basement for a few days and stirred daily.

Tanning rabbit pelts

Rinsing the pelts after brining.

Tanning rabbit pelts

Squelching the water out.

Tanning rabbit pelts

Elsa was pretty curious.

Tanning rabbit pelts

Pulling of the outer fleshy layer of skin.

Tanning rabbit pelts

Fleshy bits.

Tanning rabbit pelts

A nice, white, fleshed skin.  The small holes were from the nipples.

Tanning rabbit pelts

A half-fleshed pelt.  The white area has been fleshed.  The flesh needs to be removed to tan it properly.

Tanning rabbit pelts

The last pelt and a bowl full of skin bits.

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