Tannery Visit - How Is Vegetable Tanned Leather Made?

In September 2018, I visited the Tempesti S.P.A leather tannery in Tuscany, Italy to learn more about the leather tanning process. Some of the leather I use comes from tanneries in this region so this was a key reason to visit.

Care

One of the main things that struck me at the end of my visit was the amount of care taken by the workers in each step of the process. You do really get a beautiful piece of leather from here, which has been treated with love. I’m so glad I took the opportunity to visit. Seeing the scale of the operation and even the smells brought the whole learning experience to life.

Scroll down to see an overview of my visit and the tanning process:

  • Image Gallery - a series of photos taken showing the different stages of the tanning process in the tannery are further down this page

  • Video Gallery - links to videos I took showing some of the key elements in the tannery are shown at the bottom

Consorzio Vera Pelle

Tempesti are part of a consortium of 22 tanneries in the Tuscany region (Consorzio Vera Pelle) that adhere to standards set to preserve the tradition of Tuscan vegetable tanned leather and also to sustainability standards so each tannery operates in a responsible way.

Visit the consortium (Consorzio Vera Pelle) website to learn more.

INSIDE THE TANNERY - ‘Hands On’ Process

There are a lot of stages in the tanning process at Tempesti and it is quite labour intensive. Read an overview of the key stages below:

First Part:

Animal Skins Arrive - Skins are Trimmed - Liming Process (removes hair from skin)

Middle Stages:

Actual Tanning Stage (skins are put into large drums that rotate with; a large quantity of water, natural tannin extracts and a special mix of oils)

Then…

Dying Leather (leather, no longer raw skin, is transferred to smaller rotating drums with water and dye to give each hide its colour)

Afterwards:

Dry Leather Hide - Split Hide to Correct and Even Thickness

Finally:

Quality Checking - Measure Size of Hide for Price

IMAGE GALLERY - INSIDE THE TANNERY

Viewing on a desktop - click on the images to view further information regarding each photo.

Viewing on a mobile device - click on the images then click on the white dot in the bottom right hand corner of the screen to display text with further information regarding each image.

VIDEO GALLERY - INSIDE THE TANNERY

All the videos I took inside the tannery are viewable on my YouTube page here. Three of the videos are highlighted on the links below.

Removing Leather From Dying Drum

Splitting The Leather

Quality Checking The Leather