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Snake skin couture  RSS feed

 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Posts: 750
Location: Virginia (zone 7)
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One side business I've had in the past is curing snake skins. People would bring me snakes (usually copperheads or rattlesnakes) that they had killed. Using a razorblade , cut across the underside of the neck (side to side) only cutting in the "plain" under side scales, then cut the length of the snake to just before the tail. With the razor and your fingers slowly separate the skin from the meat, being very careful not to tear the skin. Be very careful in this step too because a dead snake can still bite. I saw a man get bit one time by a double fanged snake (had 2 fangs on each side, kind of rare). I would cure them by tacking them to a board with small brads or tacks, apply a good layer of borax, if the head is to be kept intact use a lot of borax on the back of the exposed skull. The brain and venom sacs will eventually dry up with no noticeable odor. Then wait til the borax had drawn out enough moisture to become damp (depended on the weather too) and using an old paint brush, brush away the borax and then reapply it in another heavy layer. Wait til it was all dry and brush it all free of borax. Trim the pretty top (decorative scales) from the whole skin if it's to be used as a belt or hat skin or leave it all intact if to be used as a wall mount or display mount (stretched over form). To trim use a razorblade to cut between the top / side scales (the pretty scales) and the "plain" belly scales. Make sure all borax has been brushed away from the raw side of the skin. Then spray the whole skin with Armor-All leather and vinyl protectant. Wipe dry. If attaching as a hat or belt, hand stitch with heavy-duty black thread, stitching along the natural markings so the stitches are almost invisible or enhancing the snakes natural pattern. Stitches along the length of the edge and around the diamond patterns are a beautiful enhancement to the overall natural beauty. To keep the skin from drying out or losing scales you must periodically reapply a leather/vinyl protectant. How often depends on several factors such as sun exposure, moisture, dry heat (wood stove for example). If the scales do start to shed, it is best to scrape away all scales and apply protectant.
 
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