Inner Skins


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- story by MaterialDistrict

Inner skins asks the question of whether or not we can overcome stereotypical aesthetics and appreciate beauty for its appearance: how can we change our habitual perception? Based on experimental material research, inner skins from sheep, pigs and cows, animal entrails like bladders and intestines that are usually considered as unappealing and disposed of as special waste, are now used to create unique and beautiful objects. If the skins are considered honestly, their unprecedented form and uncommon leathery surface reveal their hidden value. An elaborate vegetable tanning process transforms the material into leather which serves as a primary material for distinctive objects that no longer need to deny their origins.

Working process
First, the innards are thoroughly cleaned of conjoined fat layers and blood inclusions. Then they are acidified with constant agitation in a liquor of dilute formic acid. For this purpose a mechanically operated barrel with wood knobs inside is used. Thus, the skin is well tumbled. Once the inner skins have reached the correct pH-value they are attached to strings and hung in the vegetable tan liquor. This is the dissolved tannin from the bark of acacia mimosa from Brazil as well as bark and trunk of the quebracho tree from Argentina. Initially the concentration of tanning agent in the liquor is still very low, but it is increased gradually. Therefore, a uniform and continuous tanning of the skins is guaranteed.

To see the progress of the tanning process, you have to cut the leather because it can only be seen in the cross-section whether the skins are completely tanned or not. Depending on the thickness of the inner skins and the liquor concentration, the tanning process takes between one and two months. After tanning, the material can now be treated with different methods. When the brownish colour of bark tanning is desired, the skins are washed and lubricated with three different fats in the tanner barrel. Through oiling, the leather gets soft and flexible. Subsequently, the innards must be acidified again to fix the fats.

If colouring is desired, the procedure is much more complex. Depending on the desired hue and intensity of colour up to two dyeing processes with previous oiling and acidification as well as subsequent oiling and thorough washing are necessary.

The drying plays an important role in the manufacturing process. The longer the leather is kneaded, the softer and more flexible it gets. To preserve the original shape of the innards, the individual parts are manually kneaded and pulled until they are dry.

Material Properties