I’m in residence in beautiful Suffolk for a short time in the lead up to the Alde Valley Festival, I am turning deer hides into buckskins that would otherwise go to waste from the annual deer cull. The process uses local deer hide, wood ash and cider to turn them into a hard wearing material.

The skin begins like this.


The inside of the skin is first scraped to remove membranes, the thin layer of twitch muscle they use to deter flies and fat.

inside of skin

The skins are then steeped in an alkaline solution of hard wood ash and water for three days.


Then there is a lot of soaking and rinsing. Following this the fur and top layer of skin is scraped away.

final scrape

The skin had to be neutralised using acid rather than rinsed in the stream as it was to low and still to leave them in. The inner membranes had a final scrape to remove the ash and loose fibers.

membrane scrape

The skin is then rinsed again and wrung out and left in a fat/oil solution to replace the mucus that has been removed and make a supple buckskin. It is later smoked as a formaldehyde preservative. This bit is yet to come!