The Handmade Production of Fish Leather

Here is how Mermaid Leather creates this unique handmade product.

In six weeks – from
a fish skin waste to a
vibrant quality leather.

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The skins are retrieved from the human consumption fish processing industry and brought in a frozen state to the Mermaid Leather tannery. Any excess flesh is removed by hand from the skin using a fleshing knife. They are then soaked for several days in saline solutions.

The scales are removed by placing them into a rotating drum where a specialized solution developed by Mermaid Leather encourages the pockets to release their scales. The scales are then processed, coloured and sold as a crafting material to be used in such novelties as realistic artificial flowers.

Any biological materials are removed from the fish skins using a specialized wash solution in a rotating drum. As a result, the skins are left clean and free from any odour or oily feeling.

The fish skins are then pickled in a brine that preserves them in a state where they can be successfully stored without refrigeration for up to two years.

Tanning is the science of converting any skin to a leather condition. Using the good old Australian Gum tree, the bark is crushed to make an organic, non toxic tanning solution to create earthy tones. For brighter modern colours, synthetic tannins and dyes are used to create the Outback colours specifically chosen by Mermaid Leather.

The fish leathers are then carefully dried on boards by fixing them down flat. Once dry, the back of the fish leather is buffed using a commercial sanding machine. The excess fibre recovered is able to be used to manufacture a unique Mermaid paper.

To make the fish leather water and stain resistant it goes through an extensive refinishing process. Waxes, resins and polymers are sprayed on each individual skin up to six times and ironed with heat and pressure on two occasions.

Each individual piece of leather that passes through Mermaid Leather’s tannery is handled up to 30 times to ensure the best quality product reaches our customers. Such is the nature of this unique craft.