Roe Deer Parchment

Theres a lot you can do with a deer but for my artwork in particular theres nothing better than roe deer parchment so when I get a roadkill that takes priority after a few sunday roasts have been salvaged too. This stag died between 8.20 and 8.35 on the Cullicuden straight at a spot where 2 deer have died every year in November for the last 3 years so I keep a close eye on it then.

With roadkill its likely that the guts will be pretty mangled especially if theres no obvious head injuries so I lay them out on currugated iron on a slope with rope around the head or antlers in this case.

The right cuts are important as this will determine the size and shape of the usable hide. Making an incision in the centre of the chest, through the skin and no deeper, keeping the blade towards yourself, cut right down to the back legs.

Once the skin is cleanly separated, there is a membrane layer below to open up to expose the abdominal cavity.

Now you'll find out how much of a mess your in for. This ones not to bad, its bleed out but none of the guts are ruptured, kidneys are still warm confirming that it was found not long after death. Once you've got all the guts, lungs and end of windpipe out its time to make the incisions for skinning.

Doing this right saves a lot of extra work, cut from the inside of the skin with the blade towards you to avoid cutting hair and damaging meat. Go round the neck, the joint on each leg and then cut form each leg along the outside to meet the initial opening cut.

If you've done this properly you can put the knife down and skin it by hand.

The fresher the animal the easier it is.

By not using a knife the meat is sealed in membranes, hairs can be wiped off with a vinegar soaked cloth, but for this project its the journey of the hide we're following.

It needs scraped over a log with a fleshing knife, which is where my photographer abandoned me, then soaked in running water for a couple of days before being soaked and stirred in lime for 2 weeks.

To make this process more self sufficient wood ash can be used instead and that will be the next development in my process, I'll update when its done this winter hopefully.2 weeks or a bit longer when its cold, makes the hair easy to scrape off by hand. It then takes another week in lime to make sure only the collagen is left, before being soaked in running water to remove all the lime.

A ditch with running water makes a good place to soak.

Then it needs stretched on frame to dry. This ones adapted with tarp clips so you don't have to pierce the skin which saves a lot of time. A couple of days in the sun is best before sanding, resoaking and stretching further.

Rubbing down with pumice powder and talc removes any grease and your nearly done.

There is a choice to make here about which side to work, I prefer the inside because of the veins although it takes a bit more preparation.

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