top of page

Fri, 04 Oct



7-DAY Using the Whole Animal, Fat Tanning Grain Off, Bag Making with Dr Theresa Emmerich Kamper

7-DAY Using the Whole Animal, Fat Tanning Grain Off, Bag Making with Dr Theresa Emmerich Kamper
7-DAY Using the Whole Animal, Fat Tanning Grain Off, Bag Making with Dr Theresa Emmerich Kamper

Time & Location

04 Oct 2024, 11:00 am – 10 Oct 2024, 4:30 pm

Laguna, Laguna NSW 2325, Australia

About the Event


Send email to be out on the wait list

A very rare and exciting opportunity to learn with internationally renowned Primitive Skills Teacher, Alone Season 8 contestant Dr Theresa Emmerich Kamper. 

7 day course

Location: private bush property 1.5 hours west from the Central Coast.

BYO Camping setup. 

Limited to 12 participants.

Payment plans available contact

7 Day- Using the Whole Animal, Grain-Off Fat Tanning and Bag Making

Have you ever wondered what happens to the parts of an animal which don’t make it onto your grocery store shelves? Or how you can take a raw skin and transform it into leather?

This 7-day course will give you the knowledge you need to break down an animal carcass in an efficient way, using as much of the animal as possible! You will then have the opportunity to process a raw skin into soft, chamois-like leather and learn the sewing techniques best suited to making this type of leather into beautiful, usable products.


This course will introduce you to what parts of an animal are useful for what products and how to preserve those parts until they can be used. We will cover all basic butchery for both food and utilitarian items, as well as those parts not often seen as useful.  Multiple levels of technologies from stone to steel will be covered!

Some examples of what will be covered in Butchery Section of the course are as follows:

-Organs: Removing, sorting and cleaning the edible organs as well as the utilitarian ones such as: brains for tanning the skin, the bladder for water bags and intestines for thread.

-Skin: Removing the skin, de-fleshing and preserving the skin until you can tan it as well as using the scraps to make hide glue.

-Meat: Removing the meat, what cuts are best suited to different uses. How to debone, make roasts, jerky and soup meat. Basic meat preservation.

-Fat: How to render fat to preserve it.

-Bones: How to separate joints, bones as food, how to make tools from bones such as: skin processing tools, awls and needles, fishhooks, harpoon and arrow points, and jewellery.

-Sinew: How to remove, clean and preserve both backstrap and leg sinew and how to later process it for fibre for sewing, bowstrings, hafting, bow backing etc.

-Hooves: How to process the hooves for decorative items or for hoof glue.

-Antlers: If antlers are present how to remove them, and a discussion on how best to work with antler.

Deer Skin Tanning:

Before the advent of modern tanning agents, humans were turning raw skin into usable leather products using very basic techniques and materials. Learn to produce incredibly soft, strong and durable leather from raw animal skin using one of humankind’s earliest tanning technologies! Utilizing materials readily available in the surrounding environment we will walk through the steps of this transformation. Come learn the progression of this process from raw skin to beautiful, usable, finished leather!

The tanning section of this course will focus on tanning deer skins with a variety of fat tanning which uses Lecithin and oil* as the dressing agent. Whilst not for the squeamish the end product is worth the work! The class will cover removing the meat and fat (de-fleshing), removing the outer grain layer (de-graining), alkalining for ground substance removal, applying the tanning agents (dressing), softening and smoking the skins.

In addition to enthusiastic instruction, I provide comfortable, easy to use tools and detailed handouts covering the tanning process, as well as ethnographic anecdotes and a list of helpful literature for those who wish to further their own knowledge of tanning! The course is sure to contain plenty of memorable moments, lots of practical information and, provided that you put in the work **, one that will see you heading home with a beautiful, unique and usable piece of traditionally tanned leather!

* The use of brains or egg yolks as an alternative dressing agent will be covered.

** Please be aware that a reasonable amount of fitness is required for this course. I will provide instruction on good technique and timing with the skins, but you will need to be able to be on your feet and active for 6 to 8 hours per day.

Any serious injuries need to be discussed with me prior to booking onto the course please!

Bag Making

The last section of the course will cover learning to craft one of the most practical, useful, yet underrated items that can be made from leather, a bag. Often not even considered until you need one, a bag is an essential item.

You will learn a variety of stitches suited to soft, oil tanned leather. We will cover basic patterning concepts and how to choose the correct stich for the various seams. After making a paper pattern, we will construct a small bag from soft, fat tanned leather which will incorporate many of the seams and stitches covered earlier in the course. You will also have the option to use sinew and intestine thread made earlier in the course to sew part of the bag if you choose.

You will have the opportunity to design elements of your bag to make it unique!

After completing this course, you will have the skills and confidence to process animals, tan skins and to produce functional works of art of your own!

This course and the content covered will evolve based on time, weather, and participant interests!

About Theresa:

I am an avid practitioner of traditional living skills and primitive technology of all kinds and have followed this interest into the academic field of Experimental Archaeology, in which I hold an MA in Experimental Archaeology and PhD on the ‘Microscopic Analysis of Prehistoric Tanning Technologies’ from the University of Exeter.

I have been tanning skins using traditional technologies for over twenty five years. Coming originally from the state of Wyoming in the United States, I was lucky enough to grow up as part of a family of outdoor enthusiasts. This enthusiasm extended to hunting, fishing and trapping in the vast tracks of wilderness surrounding my home town. Learning to tan was a natural offshoot of the attempt to use as much of the animal as possible, and had the added bonus of producing a beautiful end product. Through much trial and error and with the support of very tolerant parents, I learned to brain tan skins between the age of 12 and 13. Later interaction with other traditional tanners and excellent written information vastly improved the efficiency and quality of my tanning process and end product.

I have taught various tannage types such as fat tan, vegetable tan, alum taw and rawhide production to groups ranging from bush crafters to University students for the past nine years, drawing on my extensive personal experience to provide a broad understanding of the tanning process. I include in my instruction a diverse range of information, from skin morphology to helpful hints in dealing with the numerous and frustrating problems which are often encountered when first learning to tan (and often long after!).

In addition to my main area of expertise in tanning technologies, I have also taught and demonstrated a wide range of traditional living skills including; the construction and use of traditional weapons, the use of plant and animal fibres, patterning and clothing construction, basketry, clay processing, pottery manufacture and firing, shelter construction and use, friction fire lighting and basic flint knapping and stone tool construction and use.

*** There will be no killing of any animals at this course, we will be working with animals hunted prior to the course. 

Share This Event

bottom of page