02 February 2014

Barter: hand work for hand work

A friend of mine has been experimenting with processing hides in her barn – she has room to do such stinky, smelly work, she has access to hides and eggs and she is a clever girl with lots of energy! When she told me about her hide-processing adventures, I told her I was hoping to make some moccasins for myself – I know how hard it is to clean, scrape (and scrape and scrape and scrape) and smoke a hide, but if she had any extra and might be interested in a trade…

She likes my felted boots. Those are also a lot of hard work – getting the initial felt shape isn’t too bad but there is a lot of scrubbing and rolling and squashing involved in getting them shrunk down to size (which also thickens and solidifies the felt, so it’s essential to the procedure). My green boots took two days of steady work to construct, so it’s a fair swap.

I’ll make her a set of purple boots, she will give me a piece of buckskin. That is one good trade!

I picked up the skin today – it smells so good, having been smoked. And boy is it soft!

Photo 2-2-2014, 4 03 09 PM

I’m not sure which kind of animal it came from, I’ll have to ask. Probably cow or sheep.

Holding up my end of the bargain, I started on boots:

Photo 2-2-2014, 2 30 30 PM

As I mentioned, they begin very oversized. You have what looks like a pair of giant Christmas stockings, and then you scrub and roll and scrub and roll until they shrink down to a foot-sized boot.

I got this far:

Photo 2-2-2014, 3 59 04 PM

The black plastic is the original size: that is the resist, used in the centre to hold the boot hollow while the felt takes shape. I’ve gotten a good couple of inches off the size, but there’s a lot more shaping yet to do: they are too tall and too thick at the ankle, and still a good two or three inches too long. More scrubbing to be done. However, I’m done for today – if I do any more, even Advil won’t be enough.


  1. Anonymous5:18 pm

    That's interesting... and barter is always a good thing. Glad to see that antique from St. Jacobs antique mall getting used!


  2. I hope that when you start making the moccasins that you will post pictures and blog about it, I am finding this very interesting.

    I have never felted before...I am finding this interesting also.

    You are a very talented lady.

  3. Mom the washboard is my favourite felting tool! I love it!

    I will definitely blog about the process.., it is so interesting to make real clothing.

    The skin is apparently deer hide.. That's why it is so soft!


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