Rabbit skin pouch

I hope the above image and accompanying post isn’t offensive to any vegetarian or vegan readers. This is the rabbit skin pouch I have recently finished from the rabbits we skinned on Native Skills 2.

We were shown how to process the rabbits by a top-class chef (and lovely man) called Quentin, who explained to us how they had been killed and the importance of demonstrating gratitude to our rabbit brothers and sisters who had forfeit their lives so that we could eat. We took a rabbit each or in pairs and set about the task of skinning and butchering them.

The meat was ground into mince by Ben and Nicki to make rabbit burgers for that evening’s meal. The burgers were delicious, and Quentin also showed us how to make saltimbocca by wrapping the tenderest cuts of rabbit in prosciutto with a sage leaf, before flash frying them. Food always seems to taste more ‘real’ and authentic when cooked and eaten outdoors, but the fact that we had butchered the meat ourselves added an extra dimension to the meal.

The skins were salted and put into bags ready for us to collect at the end of the week. I’m not sure if the one I went home with was the one I skinned or someone else’s, but it was a good job with very little flesh left on it. When I got home I washed out the salt and pulled off the remaining flesh with my fingers. This was easy to do, though the skin was quite delicate at this stage and was prone to tearing. I then tacked the skin out on a board and left it to dry.

After a day it was supple and skin-like, and after a week it was beginning to go dry and papery to the touch. I unpinned it and used hand cream to soften it, stretching the skin as I went. Once the cream had been worked in and dried, I was ready to start making the pouch.

I cut out the two shapes I needed and sewed them together using linen thread. The skin was surprisingly easy to sew and yet at the same time strong. After sewing I turned the pouch fur-side out and whip stitched two lengths of raffia cord around the mouth of the pouch for a reinforced (and decorative) edging. These lengths were then reverse wrapped together to form the strap of the pouch. I added a bead fastener to finish the pouch off.

All the while I was making the pouch I remembered the rabbit that lost its life. When it was complete I took it to a favourite spot by the river near where I live to make another offering of sage and tobacco to its memory.

I’ve had mixed responses to the fact that I use animal materials to make things, and the fact that I am prepared to kill animals for food, but the fact is… I eat meat. I would much rather that it was killed and processed with respect and awareness – and be involved the process – than unthinkingly eat intensively farmed meat that has been treated as nothing more than a resource. The separation in many people’s minds between animals and meat ‘products’ has become widespread in our society, both a symptom and cause of the continuing industrialised animal abuse that fuels our desire for cheap meat, poultry, eggs and milk.

Additional images by Emily Heath, with thanks.


2 comments so far

  1. John on

    Lovely pouches, exactly the inspiration I’ve been looking for.

  2. otsoalai on

    indeed my friend! great work and well explained process. I and many more people agree on the way you think about the harvesting of the meat and the way we feel about taking a life and respecting the animal. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: