Home Tanning Squirrels

There is no better squirrels than the Kuskokwim Mountain squirrels- at least so far by my experience.  These are thick and huge!  I can’t wait to sew them together!

Raw squirrels

Any day after my regular 8 hour day – I start by soaking Arctic Ground squirrels, 6 at a time- cut off the hind feet with a scissor then rub the soap on the skin side until soft. Inside out the fur side and squeeze out liquid, dry with a towel and hang to dry.

Drying squirrels

After the fur side is dry, I stretch them with my hands and fingers and slide them carefully to a board for drying the leather part. I use baby powder to help with the drying and also to get rid of the stickiness of the leather. A few times, I accidentally pulled the heads off. I try not to ruin any part of the fur, even the head part that can be used for a hood project some day. The top heads are used for hood in other Inupiaq and Yu’pik traditional parkas – I am still trying to distinguish the styles.

drying leather side squirels

Drying squirrels take time. Wait for the leather side to dry. If they are too drying they will be hard to remove from the board and might tear if you are not careful. Since I have been softening them, I have developed smooth hands but tired fingers. Stretching the leather and your tired and sore hands are important. For the last few weeks – this part has been my therapy and focus. By the end of this process I should have a number of how many there are and how many parkas these individual squirrels will make.

Tuingunrituq piurci!

Remember to protect your families, stay home!

Trying to keep up

WRITEN ON FEBRAURY 10, 2020

I checked out the Anchorage Museum again on January 5, 2019 before the shut down due to Covid. Seeing Yupik storyknifes brought memories of no worries about getting sick. I made a few metal storyknives myself as a middle school child from barges that brought supplies – it was like finding gold! Most times we ran out of butter knifes at home 🤣. My friends and I spent hours spitting our saliva to make smooth clay mud on the ground to tell our stories. My site is like a story knife on mud…real as can be.

I plan to make more trips to museums when the time permits.

I want to examine the artifacts with my eyes

I might bring a magnifying glass and take pictures.