Pas­sion shared with shed

The Tatura Guardian - - News - By Madeleine Cac­cian­iga Tatura Men’s Shed is at 157-161 Ross St, Tatura. For more in­for­ma­tion, phone 5824 1089 or email

Tatura’s Mal­colm Watts has been per­fect­ing the art of tan­ning an­i­mal skins for more than 20 years and now shares his pas­sion with the Tatura Men’s Shed.

A pas­sion­ate hunter, Mr Watts saw po­ten­tial in us­ing the whole of the an­i­mal from his motto ‘‘waste not, want not’’ when away camp­ing with a mate where he de­cided to ‘‘pull the rug off a goat’’.

Mr Watts spends months tan­ning, strip­ping, stretch­ing and clean­ing pelts to cre­ate belts, rugs and fox tail aeri­als.

‘‘Tan­ning is a process that turns the skin into leather,’’ Mr Watts said.

Us­ing only three im­ple­ments Mr Watts spends time craft­ing the pelts by tak­ing all the fat and un­wanted flesh off the skin.

‘‘Ini­tially I put the pelt across the tan­ning beam and I’ll use one of the im­ple­ments or maybe all three, take all the fat and meat and un­wanted flesh off, salt it down, and roll it up,’’ he said.

The process in­cludes salt­ing down the pelt a num­ber of times to kill any bac­te­ria within the an­i­mal skin.

Mr Watts said after salt­ing the pelt is left for 36 hours to draw the mois­ture from the skin.

He then wipes it down and re­salts it again.

From there Mr Watts washes the pelts in tan­ning fluid.

‘‘I wash them, put a prod­uct in to soften it up and wash it and rinse it and make up a for­mula, which in­volves tan­ning fluid, a quan­tity of wa­ter and salt, de­pend­ing on the quan­tity of skin,’’ he said.

He said the pelts have to be hung out flat to dry and stretch the fi­bres.

‘‘They get stretched out on the rack to dry and then it is painted with a leather fluid,’’ Mr Watts said.

He said the only time he used power was to fin­ish things off.

‘‘I use power for per­haps 15 min­utes at the end of the process . . . when it’s strung up and dried and turned into leather to get the un­der­side of the skin nice and smooth I use a belt san­der,’’ he said.

‘‘From there I take it down, cut it and­make a nice shape out of it and make it look pretty,’’ he said.

He said if the hair was not a nice pat­tern he would find an­other use for it.

‘‘I won’t waste it, I’ll de-hair it and that’s an­other process where I can just­make a sheet of leather out of it,’’ Mr Watts said.

He said he had been do­ing this process at home for many years but when the Men’s Shed came along it was very con­ve­nient.

‘‘Look — it’s an­other string to the bow of the Men’s Shed,’’ Mr Watts said.

Fine work: Tatura Men’s Shed mem­ber Mal­colm Watts shares his in­ter­est and 25-year pas­sion for tan­ning an­i­mal skins.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.