We are Sarah and Rick Scully of Tunbridge, Vermont.
A few years ago we started raising a flock of rare-breed sheep on our small homestead. When we took our first batch of lambs to market we wanted to have the sheepskins tanned. But when we got them back, Sarah immediately noticed a strong chemical smell, and developed an allergic reaction from handling them. When we tried to sell the sheepskins at local markets, our customers complained about the strong odor as well.
After doing some research we learned that the industrial methods for tanning sheepskins include the use of carcinogenic chemicals including chrome, perchloroethylene, or formaldehyde. Even so-called “eco” methods rely on aluminum sulfate, which contains heavy metals, and typically means the product cannot be washed. We wanted to provide a better alternative for U.S. producers.
So, we have founded our own facility, tanning sheep, goat and alpaca skins using a safe and environmentally responsible method. We learned this craft from the master tanner who has spent 20+ years developing the process, and are the first (and currently, only) producer of this type in the U.S.
Thank you for your interest in our project. We look forward to working with you.
About Our Process
A step-by-step tour of our natural tannery.
Skins are received after they have been
salt cured (to prevent rot).
Skins are carefully washed to remove salt, dirt, and lanolin.
Clean skins are soaked in rehydrating solution overnight.
The rehydrated skins are fleshed to remove the fat and sinew on the back of the skin.
For our traditional method we use a processed tree bark that is naturally high in tannin compounds.
When tanning is finished the skins are rinsed, then pinned out on boards to dry for several days.
Using the buffing wheel, I soften the dried leather to a supple suede finish.
Buffed hides are trimmed to remove the rough edges and give a nice finished shape to the sheepskin.
Finally, any remaining loose fibers or other debris is shaken, picked, or brushed out.