ALUM - A question for Tanners, Dyers, and Painters

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CeDeBe
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ALUM - A question for Tanners, Dyers, and Painters

Postby CeDeBe » Tue Jan 16, 2007 9:38 pm

Hi all,

I'm trying to find provinance for the use of Alum Tawing in Europe.
From what I've read most of W/Europe imported Alum from the Middle East and did so until the founding of an alum factory in Naples in 1248ce.
Also the use of calcination of shale in England has a debatable beginning. Either the C13th (Isle of Wight) or C16th (Yorkshire).
So If anyone has heard or found any differing or additional information, could you please let me know.

In addition to this, if alum was a rare/expensive substance, does anyone have any ideas on how tanners would have processed furs and pelts? Would they have just salted them or used processes like brain-tanning or oil tanning?

Cheers!



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sally
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Postby sally » Tue Jan 16, 2007 10:35 pm

I've always assumed that most skins were tannin tanned, using oak galls etc, plus I'm sure I've read reports of white dogs dung being used in tanning pits. Alum shows up on those Edward IV port records, but whether its for tanning I dunno, York has finds of clubmoss which offers an alum substitute in dyeing IIRC
Last edited by sally on Tue Jan 16, 2007 11:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Neibelungen
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Postby Neibelungen » Tue Jan 16, 2007 11:04 pm

The dog dung is used for dehairing hides rather than actual tanning.

The process your talking about is tawing rather than tanning. Try emailing Karl http://www.karlrobinson.co.uk from the tudor group as he knows more about tawing and early leather than most. Should be able to point you in the right direction.

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Postby m300572 » Wed Jan 17, 2007 11:07 am

From memory the English alum industry really started after Henry VIII fell out with the pope - alum trade was controlled by the papacy in the 16th C. The Yourkshire works were started first and went on until the 19th century and there were also works in Lancashire which were visited by James VI and I, plus the Alum Bay ones on the Isle of Wight.


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Postby gregory23b » Wed Jan 17, 2007 11:23 am

There are tawed seal bags from the medieval period, England.


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Neibelungen
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Postby Neibelungen » Wed Jan 17, 2007 1:18 pm

It would appear that tawing has been practised since egyption times, with the romans bringing it to this country.

I'd imagine there was a trade in alum from the far east since then, as the knowledge doesn't seem to have died out or have been reinvented, though probably in more limited use untill trade was more established by the 12th C.

Alum tawing, like oak and vegetable tanning, is a reuasable process. Since tawing is not a highly efficient process, the waste solutions would have been reusable, and tawed leathers generally were lighter weight than other leather.

As to furs, possible other methods are limewashing (the process used in parchment), smoketanning and oil tannages along with alum. These all work fairly well on smaller luxury furs and oil tannage would probably have been used on larger animal furs



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CeDeBe
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Postby CeDeBe » Sun Jan 21, 2007 3:18 am

Thanks for your help!




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