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Handworked Braintan

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  • Handworked Braintan

    Hello everyone,

    I am new to this forum. I only found out in the last few years about my true ancestry. I have a couple of crafting questions I was hoping to get some opinions on.

    1) Where do you guys get your real braintan buckskin? I am talking about the real stuff handmade by a person with absolutely NO chemicals ever. Nothing that isn't completely organic goes into the process.

    2) How much do you pay on average per hide or square foot?

    3) How important is it to you to use only real braintan?

    4) Would you use it for pipebags and then use commercial for moc's or use it for regalia but use commercial for everyday use?

    Thanks for any replies. I make buckskin for my clothes and bags etc. I am about to make a pair of moc's with my buckskin. I have only recently begun to trade with others. I am currently working on a pair of hides for a pair of leggings for a guy from another tribe. We will be trading so no big deal, he makes pottery so we will just make a good trade. Other people don't have anything to trade but green paper.

    Lately people have been asking about what I charge and I don't really have any idea. I use no man made chemicals. I make my own lye water to buck the hides from oak ashes and water. I work my hides by hand in all the traditional ways and try to use the brains of each specific deer when at all possible. I also use eggs sometimes in a pinch. Then I smoke them for color, preservation. After smoking I give them one run in the washing machine to take out excessive stretching and to make sure they took the tan before sewing. I am going to have a few hides to get rid of in the next couple of weeks and any help about price would be especially appreciated.

    Thanks in advance any comments will be appreciated.

  • #2
    Just need help

    I am not trying to sell anything here. Just so you know. I only tan and craft as a hobby and because I really wanted a buckskin coat for the winter. I couldn't do enough to sell much anyway. Just one or two here or there when somebody wants something special. I rather trade for something they made anyway, it makes it more special a deal. I have only bought a couple of pieces at pow wows and don't know if I over paid or what. So anyway thanks.


    • #3
      the last time i bought brain tan i think i paid about 12.00 a sq foot but that was a few years ago too...ive heard of people charging ,in my opinion,outrageous prices like 24 a sq foot ... smoked usually went for a little more than white too... i like to buy leather by the hide...some hides are better than others and its easier for me to look at one and say to myself is this one worth x amount...its easier than trying to calculate the sq footage/price etc...i guess its the same as beadworkers charging by the piece and not by the hour lol i wish i got paid by the hour glad to hear of people learning to tan these days too... years ago it was hard to get brain tan cuz not many people were doing it ... good luck and have fun trading too ... thats the best way in my eyes to do business

      (and no,this isnt zeek)


      • #4

        If I charged by the hour for hides there wouldn't be one under 500 dollars, lol. I was thinking 10 to 14 a square depending on grade and what they want to use it for. Leggings take a whole good hide while bags etc. can be made from pieces and scraps that are left over so they would be cheaper. I also want to give other natives a fair price. Don't mean to offend anyone. It's just that we all have to take care of our own. Plus Natives have things they made to trade and white people don't.

        Dang now my white half is offended.

        Once you wear braintan you will never want a piece of commercial leather again, I don't care what they call it.


        • #5

          Get in touch with KiowaKat.

          This is her specialty. I think she does custom orders, once she finishes brain tanning her hides.

          I have a video of her showing her hide tanning techniques and I know she travels around the country sharing her expertise.
          Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.


          • #6
            AHO!!! whome :) and getting this out of the way, yessss u do have a vid lol (blush) I'll try not to make this sound like a price war thread lol.
            To your first question I get my buckskin by making my own, tho I dont do the wet scrape or slip method, my tribe did the dry scrape which I practice today,the only difference being my blades and the way i put a hide into a frame. I tend to use cow brains tho due to the fact that I may gather 100 hides in a hunting season or better, and getting most from lockers I dont trust the brains in the deer, its the first thing to spoil on the body.
            My basic charge $18.00 per square foot. If I sell a hide I only sell grade A, though i may add that i sell very few, most times if I have extra hides i take them down to family in OK.
            As for importance, I would have to say it's of major importance if you want to make traditional articles. If I had to make my living sewing on commercial tans I would find another trade lol.
            And really don't understand where you are going with the last question. If you have used braintan why would you use commercial for any reason.
            Last edited by kiowakat; 12-15-2005, 06:13 PM.


            • #7

              Thanks for the replies.

              Kiowakat, I don't think I have enough confidence yet to charge 18 per square. I also dry scrape. I flesh on an upright beam and buck and rinse then frame and scrape. I soften by hand though I don't use the frame. I think wet scrape would be more traditional for my people but dry scrape works well for me.

              The last question was just a different way of asking how important it is. I couldn't afford much braintan before so I used both. I will never, ever, ever wear commercially made leather again. The difference is absolutely unbelievable. Some companies advertise that they have braintan but it is really commercial tan with some brains rubbed on like neatsfoot oil to polish off the hide. Very easy to tell the difference.


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