Oak and Smoke Tannery is dedicated to Natural Tanning and Traditional Leatherwork.
Oak and Smoke Tannery is made up of Jane Robertson and Jessie Watson Brown.
We are two individuals with a passion for the wildness in nature and the skills that enable us to live closely to the earth. Through this journey… we discovered tanning!
The tanning processes we practise use only natural ingredients – locally harvested tree barks such as Oak and Willow, oils and Smoke.
We tan and sell leather, rawhide and unique leather handcrafts. The Heritage Crafts association has categorised tanning as ‘critically endangered’ as a craft because there are so few people practising it and even less teaching it.
We intend to demystify the art of tanning by teaching simple methods, with simple tools. This is how we were taught and how we still practise.
We learned tanning in Washington State in America and more recently from traditional tanners in Scandinavia. We love the discovery of learning how different skins and processes work, and seeing the alchemical change that they go through during the tanning process.
When we first returned from America lots of people were asking us to teach them tanning so we set up our first hide camp. The first year was small with a group of friends, and it was a booming success. Since then its grown and grown every year and now we run numerous camps every year, as well as guest teaching on other courses and offering individual tuition. All this as well as of course tanning leather ourselves on Dartmoor and in Mid Wales.
We would love to see tanning become normal in peoples homes, as it once would have been. Most of the UK's domestic animal skins get exported to other countries or tanned in chemically intensive commercial tanneries, and most wild animal skins are wasted - its heart breaking!
We have very high standards when it comes to ethics and the environment. All our skins are by-products of farming and hunting, otherwise discarded.