Really cool article Brian, thank you!!
Considerably more than I knew.
> My mom's mom’s family started a business in the 1850’s that made it > into
the 1960’s - Binz Hide and Tallow in St. Louis MO.
Cool family history Ed!! And yes all tanneries were consigned well away
from town limits since way back haahahhaha. Soap was often a secondary
product of tanneries.
There was an accidental byproduct of tanneries. Tanneries were pretty
much always located near a water source. Water being integral to the
trade. Ooze, the vats of fluid needed to tan leather only had a certain
working life. It was cleaned out periodically and dumped into the river
or cove. Trash was also dumped along with the cleanout waste.
The properties of ooze will "stain" glass when left in it for 100
years. The stain is brilliant rainbow iridescence. The old locations of
the planets greatest tanneries are now the source of some extremely
I came by leather work honest. It was my first real skill learned and my
first professional "craftsman" trade. My folks gave me a Tandy leather
kit for Christmas once, and it happened a neighbor was a leather worker,
so I had her to pester for advice.
My mom was a "Yard Sailor" since forever so more leather tools were
pretty easy for me to find.
Then in 7th grade, first year of junior high, my school required a
semester of leather work and a semester of woodshop. Both these changed
my life even further.
At 16 I took a job in the back room of Mothers Rock Shop when they
opened. The first hippie / record shop of OKC.
I made all the standard fare of the day. Including cutting miles and
miles and miles of fringe! hahahah Headbands, arm bands, purses and
small pouches of every configuration.
One of my popular designs was inlaid brightly colored woven ribbon.
Soon after that adventure I took a job as a frame carpenter and my real
wood life began.
I still have leather tools of course. I lost my first ones in a bad
breakup with a girlfriend, at 18. :) But most leather tools are not
terribly hard to find and I will still pick them up when offered cheap.
Can't help it. It in my nature. hahah
Fortunately for us woodworkers the days of "leather that eats your
tools" (corrosive) are pretty much over. I have, over the years, made
any number of sheaths and pouches and covers for all kinds of tools from
all kinds of leather. And hardly ever had them eat my tools. Nearly all
do a fine job of protection from corrosion.
Chinese imports are making many of the old hard to find expensive
leather tools very very cheap. But like all imported things, when
first introduced they were giving them away, but the price is already
rising now. Quality is for the most part useable (with maybe a little work)
and in some cases just outstanding!
Snaps, rivets and catches are now available like never before.
Life is weird. Tools you couldn't have are now cheap, but the leather
you need is expensive and kind of hard to find.
Everywhere I go I still have leather in the back of my mind, and will
snag a thick purse or briefcase or any kind of harness in a heartbeat!
Forever on the lookout for leather. ;)
Box 409 Happy Camp, Ca 96039