The Tanners of Akorros
On the outskirts of Akorros, at the lakeside to the south of the city walls lie the tanneries; outside the city walls by decree so the noisome fumes don't offend the noses of the city populace. Work goes on day and night in the sheds and warehouses in this area. Bundles of untreated animal skins arrive from the slaughterhouses, in many cases still oozing blood and with bits of flesh attached. Any horns are removed and sent to hornswains to be made into knives or walking stick handles, and the hooves and unusable parts of the hide - the belly, areas around the head and neck, udders and the edges - are removed and boiled up in huge vats to render into glue. The remaining skins are washed to remove any blood and muck, then they are soaked in vats of urine until the fats, hair follicles and any remaining flesh become loosened and the fibres in the skins become softened. Once sufficiently treated, any remaining flesh is cut away and the skins are scraped to remove all the hair. They are then washed again and immersed in a solution of dog faeces to reduce the pH, soften the skin and prepare it for receiving the tanning solution. Another wash sees them finally ready for the tanning and curing. They are layered in vats with bark - different barks for different types of leather. Birch and alder from the edges of the nearby marshes give pinker and redder hues, while oak bark and shavings give sturdier leather for books, shoe soles, vehicle use, upholstery and similar use. A light solution first, increased after a while to a stronger solution, added to barrels and stored for 12-18 months to finish curing. Once the curing time is up, they are washed again then dried in large dark sheds, hundreds of skins hanging together, or in enclosed mounds like huge beehives where a smouldering fire at the bottom sends smoke up to treat and colour the leather. Then it's off to the curriers' sheds for stretching, shaving, and softening with the application of brains worked in well before the finished leather is ready to go to the leatherworkers, bootmakers, cartwrights, bookbinders and other artisans ready to be turned into its final form. It's hot, unpleasant, backbreaking work with hot and caustic solutions, and once away from the tanneries the smell lingers even after a complete change of clothes and multiple washes, but the leather, rawhide and skins is shipped across Darokin and beyond, crucial to the manufacture of so many of the items of daily life. And there is also the membership of The Colourful Guild of Bleachers, Dye Makers, Skinners, Fullers and Tanners and the annual dinner and dance as recompense.