Traditional Hide Tanning – Rawhide to Parfleche to Leather

Saturday, February 29, 2020 Workshop from 10:30-5:30 in Puyallup WA

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

Have you ever wondered how to make beautiful leather traditionally, and how to honor animal hides for a plethora of uses? Today, we’ll take hides that were harvested during the fall hunt, and honor them by making sure none go to waste. We’ll 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.


10:30 – Tour of Work Stations: Skinning to Smoking
11:30 – Egg Prepared Hides & Rotate Through Stations (Fleshing; Wet Scraping; Dry Scraping; Softening)
12:30 – Lunchtime Parfleche & Drum-Making Primer
1:30 – Choose Station To Work (Rawhide Parfleching, Drum Making, Scraping, Stretching/Softening)
2:30 – Hide Smoking Primer
3:30 – Rotate To New Stations
4:30 – Final Push to Finish Hide
5:30 – Questions & Clean-Up

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. If you would like to process 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. 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.

Location & Costs:

This workshop takes place in Puyallup. Costs for for this workshop are:

$95 general, includes rabbit hide, or equivalent portion size of other hide.
Or $90 if also registering for the Feb 15 Bow & Arrow Making Workshop.
And $90 per additional friend/family member including basic materials.

At the end of the workshop, you can also optionally contribute $75 to purchase a dried rawhide deer skin, $65 to add frozen/salted deer hide, and/or $55 to add 14 inch drum kit. 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.

Or Use PayPal to register via secure online donation with a credit/debit card or via direct withdrawal from your bank account. Use the link below (might not be visible if you are using “reader view” on your phone or other device) or sign into and “send money” to our email address: (we’ll get back to you with any additional information we may need)

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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.

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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.