How to convert sheepskins into leather

Sheep-skins, which are used for a variety of purposes, such as gloves, book-covers, etc., and which, when dyed, are converted into mock Morocco leather, are dressed as follows: They are first to be soaked in water and handled, to separate all impurities, which may be scraped off by a blunt knife on a beam. They are then to be hung up in a close warm room to putrefy. This putrefaction loosens the wool, and causes the exudation of an oily and slimy matter, all which are to be removed by the knife. The skins are now to be steeped in milk of lime, to harden and thicken; here they remain for 1 month or 6 weeks, according to circumstances, and when taken out, they are to be smoothed on the fleshy side with a sharp knife. They are now to be steeped in a bath of bran and water, where they undergo a partial fermentation, and become thinner in their substance.

The skins, which are now called pelts, are to be immersed in a solution of alum and common salt in water, in the proportion of 120 skins to 3 lbs. of alum and 5 lbs. of salt. They are to be much agitated in this compound saline bath, in order to become firm and tough. From this bath they are to be removed to another, composed of bran and water, where they remain until quite pliant by a slight fermentation. To give their upper surfaces a gloss, they are to be trodden in a wooden tub, with a solution of yolks of eggs in water, previously well beaten up. When this solution has become transparent, it is a proof that the skins have absorbed the glazing matter. The pelt may now be said to be converted into leather, which is to be drained from moisture, hung upon hooks in a warm apartment to dry, and smoothed over with warm hand-irons.

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