Brain Tanning

November 10-13, 2022

Get on the waitlist to be the first to know when this class opens for enrollment

You’ll also receive our regular newsletters.

Learn how to tan a deer hide using the all-natural brain tanning method

tow young women holding up buckskin they made with brain tanning

In this four-day workshop, you’ll learn the ancient art of brain tanning. Each student will learn and practice every step of the process. Over the course of the long weekend, you’ll transform a deer rawhide into soft, supple, natural, beautiful, wearable leather. Rawhides are provided.

Please note: this is a physically intensive class.

We also offer an Online Hide Tanning Course, which provides comprehensive, video-based instruction, plus a very thorough course manual and an online community of support.

deer drawing

What to Expect: Brain Tanning from Start to Finish

women scraping beams brain tanning

Thursday – Overview of brain tanning; skinning, fleshing, scraping

We will start at 9:30 am with a discussion of deer skinning, a fleshing demonstration, discussion of hide preservation, and an overview of tanning techniques. Each student will be given their own hide, much of the rest of the day will be spent hands-on learning the art of removing not only hair, but also grain. Everyone will remove the hair, grain, and membrane on this day.  This day is fairly strenuous.

closeup of deer hide wringing on a wooden beamFriday – Braining and wringing

Students will spend the day braining, wringing, braining, wringing… you may see a pattern here.

woman softening deer hide during brain tanning

Saturday – Softening your brain tanned buckskin

This day is all about softening your hide.  We’ll show you several methods for softening your brain tanned buckskin, before smoking it. Everyone will get a chance to try out various approaches to getting their hide nicely supple. This day is fairly strenuous.

smoking a deer hide for brain tanning

Sunday – Smoking our hides

Some folks will be finishing up with softening; others will be sewing their hides into tubes and preparing them for the smoking process. Smoking a hide preserves the super-soft character that the hides have taken on, gives them a lovely honey color, and prevents them from turning back into hard rawhide. Smoking will be finished by 6:00 pm. Fortunately, this often involves much merriment as we wait for our hides to smoke, feeding our coals frequently with “punky” wood.

Walk away with a beautiful brain tanned buckskin, and the knowledge to make more of them.

shoes around a fire with deer hides hanging above in the smoke

We do our best to ensure that everyone finishes their hide over the course of the class. Plus, when you leave we’ll send you off with a comprehensive, beautiful, and image-rich guide to hide tanning. This resource will help enable to you to tan as many hides as you wish when you get home.

To learn more about brain tanning, including all the steps that are involved, check out or blog post about how to tan a hide, naturally.

R. Payne

“I am so thankful for the Wild Abundance Hide Tanning class! For years I felt drawn to work with hides but just didn’t have the confidence to go from start to finish. Tyler is a natural instructor and the wildness of the class setting added to the enjoyment. I came home with a beautiful hide and am already starting on another. Now I can enjoy feeling the spirit of the process!”

R. Payne, Williamston, NC
Hide Tanning Class Student

hide tanned by Trudie Henninger

“Thank you so much for offering the Hide Tanning Class. It was a wonderful and unforgettable experience. I came expecting just to learn new skills but I left with… a new passion and a new-found appreciation for hide tanning. It was so much and enriching working with people of all different ages and skill levels. There was plenty of time to get to know the group and share stories and laughter while working on our hides. The instructors made it really easy to understand and were available for plenty of one-on-one help. By the end of the class, they had helped us all turn our hides into beautiful works of art and left us with the knowledge to continue on our own! Hide tanning at Wild Abundance is an experience that anyone will enjoy and leave wholly enriched.”

Trudie Henninger
Hide Tanning Class Student


Tyler Lavenburg

Nose to the grindstone (sometimes literally), Tyler (he/him) lives for unraveling the mysteries of the Earth. He first fell in love with Southern Appalachian ecology as a student at Warren Wilson College, graduating with a degree in Environmental Education. Beginning as Natalie’s first apprentice in 2009, he has since traveled around the Eastern US learning ...

Class Location

This class is held in Barnardsville, at the Wild Abundance home campus 

The Wild Abundance home campus is a beautiful and diverse permaculture homestead, about 25 minutes north of Asheville. You’ll receive detailed directions on how to get here upon registration. This is where Wild Abundance founder and director Natalie Bogwalker lives with her family. It’s nestled amidst a handful of other homes in a small community on a short gravel road. If you’re attending a class hosted at Wild Abundance, you will likely also traveling on field trips or going to other nearby sites for builds.

Please note: our campuses are all unconventional, with rustic amenities and uneven ground. Read more about our campuses here.

Local Accommodations and Facilities

Wherever you’re coming from, you’re welcome to pitch a tent in one of our flat camping spots in the woods or field, or to tie a hammock in the forest on our seven-acre property. If you live locally, you may prefer to commute to Wild Abundance from Asheville (25 minute drive). If you choose to camp, please bring your own bedding and rainproof tent or tarp. In the early spring and late fall it can be cold at night, so please bring warm bedding if you’ll be here before May or after September. We have a lovely outdoor kitchen equipped with a stove and running water, an outdoor shower, and an outhouse available to campers.  In extremely cold weather, the sink and shower may be out of operation due to water freezing.

If you prefer something with more creature comforts, we suggest you browse Airbnb for numerous options close to the campus. You can also check out local motels and B&Bs within a 10-15 minute drive to Wild Abundance. We’ll send a list of links to several options (with varying amenities and prices) in a welcome letter upon registration.

Registration Info

Get on the waitlist to be the first to know when enrollment opens

You’ll also receive our regular newsletters.

We strive to make our classes accessible to those who wish to learn. Please pay on the sliding scale what you can afford, given your income.

November 10-13, 2022

Sliding Scale: $650 – $1,040

The following are included in the price of the course: instruction, optional camping, and facility use (kitchen, outhouse). 

To register, please complete the online registration by clicking on the “Register Now” button above and then make your payment. Registration will be processed upon receipt of payment.

Expect to receive a confirmation email within one week of sending payment. Additional emails will cover logistical details as the date approaches.

Click here to see our policies on refunds, payment plans, and scholarships.

You can also review our Frequently Asked Questions and current COVID policies