Moroccan leather is a pliable and really soft form of the leather. Morocco is one of the most popular countries in leather production all over the world. It doesn’t matter how many countries you visit, Morocco is not something to forget. You will see numerous market stalls of leather gloves, ladies handbags, wallets, a pair of shoes and many more.
The Leather Tanneries of Chouara
If you want to visit Morocco, visiting Fez –a city which is extremely popular for leather- will be a perfect destination. There are several tanneries in this city. However, Chouara tannery is the most famous and located in the heart of the city. This is very old tannery which is unchanged since the 12th century and still on its peak.
Chouara – along with other two famous tanneries in the city- produces a huge amount of stunning leather for Fez and Morocco which is further exported into the rest of the world. This Moroccan city devoted itself for making leather from animal skins in medieval. So you can say that Fez is a crazy city for leather production.
Now, let’s have a look at the complete procedure of leather production.
How to make leather?
In the past, animal’s skin was turned into the leather by adopting the different natural method. Now that process has been somehow replaced with the modern methods which are cheaper and less time-consuming. However, the old tanning method is still one of the best-known methods to produce leather. This guide will explain complete step by step methods to make leather, so keep reading it:
- Choose a wide and well-ventilated area
First of all, you need to set up an appropriate area, especially outdoor and well-ventilated, because tanning can be a really messy project. For tanning, you should set up there a workbench to lay the hide on. Otherwise, a sturdy table will be enough.
- Soak the hide in a tannery
Leather tanneries are used to soak the hide. You can soak that in water bucket overnight that will make it more pliable. After soaking, hide becomes extremely heavy, so you need a helper's hand.
- Scraping the flesh off the skin
After soaking the hide, lay that on the workbench. Take a drawknife or sharp convex blade for scraping the flesh from the skin. This can be a headache process if you are new in this field. This step can take several hours. Be careful and don’t rush. Otherwise, there are high chances to cut the skin accidentally.
- De-haired the scrapping off-fleshed skin
Hair removal is another tricky process. In the hair, lime breaks down the keratin. So it makes the hair removal process extremely smooth and easier. However, deer fur is extremely difficult to remove so never ever try to be hastened in this process.
Make a solution of lime and water. The mixture should be enough to cover the complete skin. Soak the hide into the mixture for about a week. Don’t sock the hide too longs, otherwise, it can damage the skin. After a week, take this hide off and again lay that on to the workbench.
- Remove the protective layers
Although hide looks clean after the former process, it still has some protective layer on it. There are two protective layers: an epidermis layer on the fur side and a membrane layer on the flesh side. Both layers are really tough. Therefore, it is crucial to remove the layers so that the tanning solution can properly penetrate to preserve the hide.
Let the hide’s both sides dry out. After drying, take a sharp blade again and start scrapping the layer by holding the blade perpendicular. Here sandpaper will be handy to remove the tough spots on the layers.
- Find tree bark for tanning
After removing the epidermis and membrane layers, you are good to go for tanning. It is really interesting and a long process. Take a large amount of hemlock or oak bark. Try to find the bark from fallen trees instead of living ones. If you don’t know much about the right tree, you can easily find the identification manuals from different bookstores or search online on the internet.
- The hide is ready for tanning
Place the bark into a large container of water. Now soak the hide again into the bark tea about nine months. The tannic acid will seep thoroughly into every pore of the skin from the tree’s bark. It will even coat the microscopic fibers. If you want to attain the best result, you should add new bark after every three months. When tanning process end, take it out and clean it very well with scrubbing, scraping with blade and washing.
- Currying the tanning hide
Formally, it is the last process which turns the poorly-colored and rough skin into a polished product. For this purpose, you can poke numerous small holes and stretch the tanned hide on the wooden frame by fasting it tightly with the frame. Leave it at is it for a few moments under the sun until semi-dry.
Scrape both sides with a blunt blade or use an alternative method which is rubbing the rounded stick across the surface. This currying process will finalize the product with the best texture.
- Waterproof the leather!
Although this step is not mandatory. However, if you want to darken the color or waterproof the leather, you can suspend the leather over a fire for a few moments. Tighten it firmly. Otherwise, leather can fall into the fire.
- Rubbing oil
It is also not a necessary step. You can rub the leather with oil to make it shiny. So it is a final round to turn skin into leather.
What to buy if go to Morocco?
As we have described the popularity of leather in Morocco. So whenever you visit Morocco, you should consider the following things for buying:
The leather pouf is an extremely popular item in Morocco that comes in many varieties such as goat, sheep and camel poufs. We recommend you to purchase this when you visit Morocco. It comes into size, small and large size.
Leather bags and wallets
It is another one of the most appealing things for tourists all around the world. You will find their several stalls with numerous varieties of bags hanging over there. You can buy these bags and wallet at fair prices.