The Traditional Artisan – Bows, Arrows, At-Latls & Leather Hide Tanning

Saturday, July 28, 2018 Workshop from 9:30-4:30 at Lake Sammamish

Tanning Deer Hide
Participant tanning a deer hide on stretching rack.

Check out our Traditional Big Game Bow & Arrow Making Instructions article and get started on your own bow and arrows, and our article on how to make beautiful leather traditionally, and how to honor animal hides. In addition to starting you on your own bow and arrow today, we’ll take hides that were harvested during the fall hunt, scrape them clean, shape some into parfleche, a drum, and other rawhide tools, then follow an ancient recipe using eggs instead of brains to convert at least one of the hides into tanned buckskin leather.


9:30 – Overview of Work Stations, Knife & Tool Training
10:00 – Egg Prepared Hides (Fleshing; Wet Scraping; Dry Scraping; Softening)
10:30 – Bow Making Overview: From material selection to the final touches. Demonstration on Tillering Bows and reducing the wood to a single growth ring on back.
11:00 – Quickie Bow Notches, Stringing & Exercising
11:30 – String-Making Primer & Sandstone Grinding Slate Arrowheads
12:00 – Final Bow Instructions: Straightening & Curving, Balancing, Smoothing & Preserving.
12:30 – Lunch & Instinctual Archery Training
1:00 – Arrow Making Overview: Cutting Nocks, Fletching with Feathers & Sinew,  Pine Pitch & Sinew Arrowhead Attachment.
1:30 – Final Arrow Instructions: Straightening, Balancing, Smoothing & Preserving.
2:00 – Hide Smoking Primer while working on your bow or arrow.
2:30 – Rotate through stations to finish tanning hide, bows and arrows.
3:30 – Al-Latl Spear Throwers Carving, Dart Fletching & Shooting.
4:30 – Stay as long as you like to help finish tanning hides, or use our tools to finish your bow and arrow.

Please note that this workshop runs through the traditional parfleche and tanning processes that good enough for making leather, but there are more advanced techniques that cannot be covered in one day. Similarly, how to make a “self-bow” plus arrows and at-latls that are good enough for hunting large game require more time, and there are many varieties of more advanced techniques that cannot be covered in one day, such as sinew-backing, re-curving, and much more. If you would like to learn more advanced bow and arrow making, or processing your own hide from start to finish, and personalize it with some advanced techniques, please enroll in our 5 Day Summer Course: Ancient Artisans: Classic Crafts & Traditional Technologies


$95 general tuition, includes green quickie hardwood bow stave and natural string material, plus self-made at-latl handle, bamboo dart blank, feathers, artificial sinew, and slate for arrowhead.
$85 per additional friend/family member.
• $65 to add a set of all-natural seasoned arrow kit materials including a seasoned, high-spine-weight arrow blank, vine maple dart blank, obsidian arrowhead blanks, hammer stone, pressure-flaking antler, plus real sinew, hide glue and goose feathers.
• $45 to add a seasoned bow stave blank; includes tax.
• $35 to add rabbit hide or similar-sized portion of deer hide to take home.

You can also purchase hides and drum kits during the workshop if you decide you want to take something home that we were working on. As you can imagine, there will only be time to start processing the hides during the workshop, so you will have to finish it later. You don’t need to purchase a hide if you just want to work through the parfleche and tanning steps on the demonstration hides we have set up at various stages in the process.

Registration: Who & How

Our weekend workshops are designed for adults, but youth are also welcome to register with an enrolled parent or guardian. Directions to meeting location and carpooling information will be provided upon registration.

Credit/Debit Card Registration Option: Just call us at 425-248-0253 and we will take your registration securely over the phone.

Check/Mail Registration Option: Send with a check donation payable to the Wolf College, 1026 14th St. SW, Puyallup WA 98371 with participant name(s), phone number, email address, age of any minors, and any allergies or health restrictions we should know about.

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Refund Policy: Standard deposits ($100 for day programs, $200 for overnight programs) are not refundable unless we don’t accept your application. If you cancel in advance of the program start time for any reason, you may receive a full credit good through the following calendar year on appropriate and available programs listed on our schedule, although an additional deposit may be required to secure your spot in the future program. If a program you sign up for is canceled and not rescheduled at a time you can attend, you may receive a full refund except in case of natural (weather, geologic, etc) disasters, government shutdowns, conflicts or curfews, or other unforeseen emergencies making it impossible for staff and/or attendees to reach or use program locations, in which case all payments made will be held by us without expiration date for your future use in appropriate/available programs of your choice. No refund, nor credit, is given if a participant is asked to leave a program for inappropriateness as determined by our kids, youth and adult agreements for participation.

Preparatory Information:

Bring lunch, water, work gloves, and wear clothing that can get super soiled for this workshop, and be aware that sparks from the campfire can melt your synthetic clothing, so natural materials like wool might be the best option. If you have materials geared toward working with hides, definitely bring those as well. Join us today and at any of our Weekend Workshops on themes of survival, wildlife and ethnobotany, and please contact us for carpooling information.