Firefly Gathering instructor Rain Hall (she/they) didn’t expect to become an expert hide tanner. Like most things with staying power, a seed was planted and took a couple years to sprout and grow leaves.
“The first time I tried tanning hides I didn’t like it, it was a lot of work.” But a couple years later some friends were tanning roadkill hides. Rain joined in and tried tanning a smaller hide, and fell in love. “I’ve got hide fever,” she says from her home today in the North Carolina Piedmont. Her skill has grown over the years, and drew her to teach with Firefly at both the Annual Firefly Gathering and our Perennial Workshops. Rain will be teaching a workshop on Sewing Buckskin Pouches to start off our 2023 workshop series, sharing what she’s learned with the Firefly community.
Why buckskin? Rain offers a beautiful insight into the ripples of sharing this craft: “We are countering waste culture and consumerism by using the often discarded deer hides to make something beautiful, with our own hands, that was not bought in a store or mass produced. When we are learning, sharing and using these hide sewing skills, we are re-learning connection to the wilderness, the earth and that which provides and sustains us.”
One of the teachings that Rain has learned from processing hides and processing of meat is that tending a small fire over a long period of time requires a different mindset than tending a large fire over a short period of time. She and her partner Gray stumbled upon this lesson when they were skinning and smoking fish on the shores of Alaska.
“Small fires need alot of tending, alot of small sticks, and in the case of smoking fish or tanning a hide, it needs tending every couple hours over a period of days.” It’s a lot like parenting. “Raising kids is like tending a small fire…” Rain explains, as is effective earthskills teaching.
Join Rain and learn how to sew a buckskin pouch – a pouch that help us tend the small fires we are lighting as a community as we learn the skills of ancient futures.
About the author:
Nastassja Noell is a lichenologist and Firefly Gathering’s Registration Coordinator. She loves weaving stories about ecological research and is a proud recipient of the United Plant Savers Deep Ecology Artists Fellowship. You can read more about her here.