Eequ · After school. In place of school. Beyond school.

Fish Skin Tanning course over 3 weeks

Learn fish skin tanning using plants & fungi

Your mentors

Fergus The Forager

Charissa van Eijk

Organisation links
Chosen age group:

For ages: 10 - 18+ years

Available tickets:
Fish skin tanning course £95
Next date: Monday 9th Sep,
What we'll do
Discover how to make beautiful fish skin leather utilizing a wide range of flowers, leaves, and fungi, and create unique craft items. This course goes far beyond (although not excluding) the traditional and well-known tanning methods using bark, eggs, brains and urine, and other ways of preserving fish skin. Our ancestors were in a deep way connected to the land they lived in or, reciprocally considered, lived with. We are the land, and our ancestors are buried in her lap. With this in mind, and while walking the ancestral landscapes themselves, Fergus and Charissa started to feel that there must have been more plants and plant parts then just the various tree barks that were traditionally used for tanning in the (prehistoric) past. This led to many explorations of both inner and outer landscapes, tapping into their own intuitions and listening to the plants themselves, and to co-creative experiments with beautiful wild herbs, fungi, and even seaweeds with which to successfully tan fish skin. Drawing on over 100 different botanicals, recipes and methods came into being. And now they want to be shared with the world. In this course, spread over three Monday evenings in September 2024, you will learn how to tan fish skin in different ways. The main focus will be on tanning fish skin with different wild plants, but there will also be attention given to tanning methods using tea, because even recipes of this kind can be quite challenging to find out. The online course is very practical, and different methods and recipes will be shown and explained in depth. After the course you will be able to happily tan fish skins in different ways yourself and you will know which plants to use and in which recipe. Besides learning how to tan fish skin in experimental ways, you will also learn how to craft with fish skin leather. Are you coming on an experimental fish skin leather making journey with us? Each session will be live with plenty of time for questions and answers. Recordings of sessions will be available to watch at a time of your choosing and free to access for 3 months after the completion of the course. NOTE: The fee is for the full 3-session course *Session 1: o     Theoretical background to tanning & the history of fish skin leather. o     Plants, fungi, seaweeds & lichens suitable for tanning & where to find them. o     Other fish skin preservation methods: brains, eggs, urine, glycerine, drying etc. (pros & cons). o     The physiology of fish skin structure & fish species suitable for tanning. o     How to prepare skins for tanning. o     Questions & answers. *Session 2: o     Practical journey with lots of live demonstrations. o     Preparing different tannin extracts: tips & tricks. o     The tanning process (what strength & duration). o     Tanning recipes. o     Measuring tannin: the senses & the Barkometre (pros & cons). o     Softening techniques & oil/ointment selection. o     Questions & answers. *Session 3: o     Crafting with fisk skin leather & preserved fish skin. o     Suitable stitches, types of thread/yarn/stitching material based on North Western European archaeology, traditional societies, experience & modern times (pros & cons). o     Clothing, clothing accessories, jewellery, coverings, musical instruments and more. o     Using the skin for making glue, thread & oil. o     Live crafting demonstrations. o     Questions & Answers.
About your mentors
Fergus The Forager
Fergus the Forager
Wild food experimentalist, course faciliator, forager, the ever-curious Fergus Drennan, aka Fergus The Forager, has been gathering and learning about wild plants, seaweeds, and fungi for over 40 years, beginning on Wimbledon Common, aged 3 years, collecting dandelions for the family’s pet tortoise. Since those early days, and through much creative and experimental exploration he has continued his foraging practice, not only as a means to understand and to discover the practical relevance that foraging has in the modern developed world, but also in terms of what it means to be an environmentally conscious human in relation to the natural world. “Can foraging ever be considered a truly sustainable practice, and if so how?”, is a question that always orchestrates his foraging activity, as does a pursuit of foraging’s playful and creative possibilities, whether they be found in novel recipes using plants, fungi, and seaweeds, or unlocking the possibilities that wild botanicals offer for other non-food-based creative pursuits. That includes, among other things, the making of baskets, mushroom paper, and natural dyes and pigments. Fergus has a huge amount of wild food knowledge to share, and an array of imaginative ways of doing so. After even only an afternoon with him, the natural world around you will never look the same again.
Charissa van Eijk
Passionate archaeologist (MA) and craftswoman
Charissa is an enthusiastic and passionate archaeologist and cultural historian from the Netherlands. Her specialisation is in prehistoric archaeology from North-western Europe, but during her BA and MA studies she also focused on lectures in cultural anthropology, physical anthropology, medieval archaeology and more. Her approach to understanding the past is to both imaginatively and practically reconnect with the ways of the ancestors, wherever they may reside. She loves to go beyond dry facts in order to grasp the mind and heart ways of our ancestors by means of experimental archaeological projects. Her animistic worldview, as well as inspiration from folklore and ways of the wisdom keepers from traditional societies, inspire her own way. For many years she has practiced ancestral skills and crafts, focussing mainly on textile and wool (weaving, tabletweaving, bandweaving, needlebinding, making felt, historical clothing, dyeing). She worked for many years teaching these skills at an archaeological open-air museum (prehistoric and early Middle Ages period) and has been a passionate re-enactor in Viking re-enactment living history. The past is totally intertwined with her daily rhythms, and she happily daydreams and crafts herself into being, into life. Always being eager to explore and learn interesting crafts, tanning fish skin and making leather greatly appealed to her. She has explored this craft with heart, hands, and soul, seeking to go ever deeper in mastery and understanding. From beginning to end, the process seemed to blend with her textile crafts and wider interests in folklore, plantlore, animism, ancestral ways, and experimental archaeology. Tanning fish skin with bark, brains, eggs, urine is interesting and exciting, and yet inspired by the knowledge of plants of her partner Fergus, and their endless talks about tannin in plants (leaves, fruits, stems, roots), they started working outside the conventional “tanning box”. Wandering the land, they discovered many plant allies that wanted to bond with the soul of the salmon and shapeshift skin into leather. Tanning with plant leaves, fruits, stems, and roots produces beautiful colours and shades. The process of discovering the right recipe is extremely nourishing and the possibilities feel endless. Working in this way with plants is for her a way to connect deeper with the spirit of a plant, the land and the spirit of the related fish/salmon. Besides exploring the tanning possibilities of plants, she is also eager to create and craft with all the beautiful leather that comes into being, from small pouches and earrings to cloths and rucksacks. Inspiration comes from archaeology, traditional societies, and her own creative waters. Blending the salmon leather with her textile crafts to see what is born during the crafting process is what she loves. Besides working with salmon leather, she and Fergus are trying to fish in different ways to catch other interesting fish species for tanning and leather making. They fish in the sea and fresh waters of the UK and the Netherlands to give reality to this wish/dream. They always work with respect, and in deep connection with all the plants and fish that come across their path. Learn more about me @craeftychaga on instagram
Learning aims
Aim 1
Source fish skins for tanning
Aim 2
Prepare fish skins for tanning
Aim 3
Tan fish skin using 30+ plants as well as using tea and tanning powder
Pricing information
Ticket nameFish skin tanning course
InformationA course of 3 online workshops

Please note

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Cancellation Policy
No refunds are given except in the case of a cancellation by the Mentor.

My experience consists of a leisure activity, on a specific date(s), and therefore the 14-day ‘cooling off period’ under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 does not apply.