brains-and-bucks-appalachian-women-continue-hide-tanning-tradition

Brains and Bucks: Appalachian Women Continue Hide-Tanning Tradition

Finding a new appreciation and respect for what we use from nature is nothing new. It is becoming more popular in all layers of society around the world. We get back in touch and discover more about our roots, but also the potential that is there. This story about rediscovering an ancient leather tanning tradition in the Appalachian region of the United States is a great example of this.

Local tanner Taclon Quinn decided years ago to source her own food. Prior to that, she was a vegetarian and for a time vegan, but she switched back to meat. Deciding to source her own, she found out there were several by-products that could just as well be used. The ancient method of brain tanning is the one she has used, which is a work-intensive method that uses the animal brain enzymes to tan the hide. The brain tanning process takes up to 16 hours of work-intensive tanning. However, there is a joy in the craftsmanship that Quinn enjoyed and the process is now taught to others.

Though brain tanning falls short as an industrial method, the utilization of enzymes in modern tanneries is increasing. Similarly, historical tanning methods, based on biochemistry, and using natural resources to reduce waste, are still implemented today. This connection between present-day and ancient methods, and the understanding of the materials we use, is vital and often missing in our modern world. Examples like this help show why leather is so important and how it helps us reduce our footprint by solving waste problems through recycling instead of creating new issues.

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