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Thread: Brain Tanning

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    Default Brain Tanning

    Anyone use the method of tanning with animal brains and then smoking the hide? Have you had success with this method? What animals does it work best with? What hides did it not work with? Any other tips?

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    Also, everything that I have read about this method says to go down to the butcher and buy beef or pork brains. Any reason why I couldn't just use the brains from the animal themselves?

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    I have looked into brain tanning but never tried it. I have read that the animal's own brain is enough to tan their hide. Not sure about that. I would hope someone like Stangerinastrangeland would pipe in. Everything he and his family do are along that line and he may know more. Looking forward to more first hand experience myself. If I get a deer this year will give it a try. Thanks for bringing it up again.

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    My understanding is after removeing the greenmatter you add a bit of water and foam it all up nice into a paste then spread evenly over the prepared hide and let it work for a few days then remove it. I have a taxidermy guy out here in the valley told me he would put on a class on brain tanning this winter sometime. If you or others would like to attend the training or others join the group I started and I will keep you in the loop, http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...php?groupid=29
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    Most of the hides from my younger days were brain-tanned. The only reason I stopped is that the process is a heck of a lot of work, requiring far more muscle than I have now. Every animal has the right amount of brains to tan its own hide so there's no need to buy anything, however it isn't really a chemical process like modern tanning, you have to be MUCH more diligent about fleshing and scraping and working the hide, and it takes MUCH longer than you might expect. Works with any animal, I found it easiest with deer, hardest with rabbits because it was difficult to avoid punching holes while working the thin skin. Hair on or off shouldn't really matter, but since I'm not that skilled at it (self-taught), most of my furs slipped a lot more hair than I wanted. Any "primitive skills" book can guide you through the process but look for one with pictures or illustrations. Best to make several different kinds of scrapers in advance, switching between scrapers occasionally might help keep your hands from cramping up.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bcook33 View Post
    Anyone use the method of tanning with animal brains and then smoking the hide? Have you had success with this method? What animals does it work best with? What hides did it not work with? Any other tips?
    The very best resource I've found on brain tanning is right here. Articles, research, techniques and more.

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    Member ironartist's Avatar
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    wow cool thanks
    Visions Steel/841-WELD(9353)
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    Thanks for that resource. I had read a couple of the articles: brain Tanning and more Brain Tanning - they were very helpful as far as understanding the process. But there is a wealth of information on that site. Thanks for posting it.

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    Spoke to a guy today who has tanned using this method. He said the skin tends to be blotchy when finished and does not look as nice. Anyone had this experience or know of a way to combat the issue?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bcook33 View Post
    Spoke to a guy today who has tanned using this method. He said the skin tends to be blotchy when finished and does not look as nice. Anyone had this experience or know of a way to combat the issue?
    Blotchy? Sounds silly to me. Might come from a failure to work the hide sufficiently. Might come from burning the hide in spots during the tanning or from uneven smoking. But most likely that complaint comes from unreasonable expectations for any natural product, when comparing it to industrial chemical tanning and the dyes used to make a natural product look unnaturally consistent.

    My own hides are not blotchy. But even if they were, the question would still be backwards. It wouldn't be "does this look too blotchy", but rather "that's weird, where did the natural blotches go on that industrially finished product"? After all, isn't the whole point of a laborious process like brain tanning to enjoy the unadulterated natural characteristics of the hide?
    Inspiration is simply the momentary cessation of stupidity.

  11. #11

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    Get the book and the dvd Deerskins into Buckskins and follow the directions.
    Blotchy I'm guessing the guy didn't get all the grain off the hair side so the smoke was unable to penetrate.

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    Every animal has enough brains in its head to tan its own hide, enough guts to stuff its meats, and enough nutrition , if you eat everything, to be a complete and balanced diet.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    Mix equal parts brain and fat, cut them into small chunks and simmer them down till they are a liquid, take you VERY WELL fleshed hide and rub it in to the hide, a very slow and minotinus task if its anything bigger than a mouse, then you let it dry a bit, and get a board or somethign of the like with a sharp edge on itand run the hide over it (a shovel works real good) back and forth, back and forth back and forth. till it gets more supple, then you can smoke it over spruce boughs, you DO NOT want the black smoke from birth bark as it will taint the hide. You want white smoke, anyway,hang the hide up in a way it willget alot of smoke, and smoke it for a day and a half (this is assuming a deer hide) then take it to your board again, and run it back and forth back and forth back and forth, and you should have a somewhat nice hide.

    This is assuming a hair on skin
    Eccleasties 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, There for the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.

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    Member ironartist's Avatar
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    I have a buckskin jacket here my pop made 50 years ago I swear he said he foamed the brains up with water and pasted it on, maybe not I could be wrong but I thought thats how he told me the tanning process went
    Visions Steel/841-WELD(9353)
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  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by ironartist View Post
    I swear he said he foamed the brains up with water and pasted it on
    I also used water instead of fat to make the brain paste. All the fat does is add bulk to the mixture, making it easier to spread on. Both ways will work but a 50/50 mix seems like a waste of fat that could better be eaten.
    Inspiration is simply the momentary cessation of stupidity.

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    i brain tan all my deer hides and furs that i hunt or trap i love the process its very rewarding there is a fair amount of work involved but you will forget about it all when you have your fiinished product

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    Quote Originally Posted by wildernessjustin View Post
    i brain tan all my deer hides and furs that i hunt or trap i love the process its very rewarding there is a fair amount of work involved but you will forget about it all when you have your fiinished product
    Any tips for us folks who don't know as much? whets your "recipe"?
    Eccleasties 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, There for the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.

  18. #18
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    go to the link in post 6 it looks like a very good place to start
    Visions Steel/841-WELD(9353)
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