Brain Tanning Animal Hides (Native Tan) - April 28 - 30


Workshop Fee = $200 + GST per person

Purchase Hide Option = $35 per person

Accommodations (tent or RV) = $35 per night

Minimum Participants 8        Maximum 12

This popular and  interactive workshop will provide participants with the entire process required to take an animal hide from freshly skinned, to soft tanned, using the dry scrape and Native tan methods.

Friday afternoon/evening we cover fleshing, dry scrape hair removal, and lashing to a frame.

Saturday and Sunday covers Native tanning (Brains and/or Lecithin) and smoking hides to completion.

Native Tan is one of the oldest methods of tanning hides.   We will be using “animal brains (or lecithin)” to tan the hide followed by smoking the hide to “set the tan” creating true buckskin leather on the inside of the hide.   

This is still considered one of the softest and most durable tanning methods even in our modern times.

Buckskin or Fur Tanned Hide option:  Because we have two instructors, we are going to try to work two different methods over the same weekend.  Participants can choose to work on deer hides into buckskin with hair removed, or participants can choose to work on a fur bearing animal such as fox or coyote and tan the hide with fur on.  We will confirm your choice before the start of the course.

This workshop is a hands-on student participation from start to finish.

Friday Afternoon/Evening (4 pm start)

  • Participation in fleshing a Deer hide
  • Lacing Deer hides onto frames for drying and de-hairing
  • Dry scrape a framed Deer hide
  • Discuss other methods of hide preparations
  • NOTE:  the group will work together on a few Deer hides to learn the process.  These hides will not be used for the tanning on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday Morning

  • Handing out hides to Participants:  Each 1 or 2 participants will receive one of the following hides to work on:  Fox, Fisher, or young Coyote.  NOTE:  Experience shows that participants have the greatest success in completely tanning a hide using smaller animals to learn the process.  It is recommended that 1 or 2 people work together on a hide to ensure the best results.  However, it is possible for a single participant to be successful as long as they are diligent and efficient with the physical work to be completed on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Preparing the hides by removing membrane etc., with some general guidelines to making ready the hides
  • Discussion and demonstration on the safe handling of raw materials used in the process showing how to heat and prepare the tanning solution
  • Working the solution into the hides
  • Explanation of equipment and natural material options to prepare for the next step

Saturday Afternoon

  • Working the hides until tanned
  • Hanging and drying the tanned hides overnight


  • Gathering the wood and materials needed to smoke the hides
  • Setting it all up and smoking the hides.
  • Finally, some discussion, tips and demo’s on sewing and working or crafting with tanned furs

Tanned Hide Fee - There will be an option for participants to purchase their completed (tanned and smoked) hide at the end of the course for $35.  In order for tanned animal hides to be sold in Alberta, this fee is mandatory.  There is no charge for the hide if you do not decide to keep it and take it home.

Accommodations - Camping is available for tents and RV's for $35/night.  Or you can choose to stay off site if you wish. Fees to be paid on site

Location - Nature Alive Adventure Center is located 2 hours NW of Edmonton, near the Hamlet of Fort Assiniboine.  Directions will be sent out upon registration.