The art of curing a goatskin (A bodhrán skin)
- To cure a goatskin a solution of garden lime mixed with water is used.
- The skin is left soaking in the mix for six or seven days until the skin is soft enough to wash the hair off in a barrel of water.
- The back of the skin must then be scraped of all membrane and fat so that the skin does not smell when dried.
- The skin must then be soaked in a pickle solution for two days.
- The skin is then stretched and dried in the sun if possible.
- The sun will help bleach the skin giving a nice white surface favoured by those purchasing a bodhrán.
- The skin is now ready to stretch onto a rim. This is done while the skin is wet as it is easier to stretch while wet.
- It can be nailed, stapled or glued. Gluing gives the strongest and neatest finish but the two other methods are quite acceptable.
- It is often necessary that stapling or nailing is used to get a tighter stretch on the skin.
- A leather or vinyl band is then attached around the rim using studs and giving a finished look to the bodhrán.
I'll reply to comments directly ~ Paraic
James McGuire April 12 2019 at 12:29PM
Hello, Paraic. I enjoy your website very much; it’s quite informative. I have a new 18" Roosebeck bodhran which the literature that came with it says is “treated.” However, it doesn’t explain how it was treated or with what. Can you shed any light on this? Also, I have some pure lanolin, but can this be used to soften a “treated” skin like mine? Thanks, in advance.
Sue April 12 2019 at 12:28PM
I have a bodhran with a hair on goat skin head. It has stretched and not playable. When I sit it in the hot sun it tightens up but returns to non-playble condition. Any suggestions? Do a lot of outside performances
Paraic McNeela May 06 2014 at 11:37AM
Hi Thad, I don’t recommend any other skins, you can read why on my other blog posts, if you send me an email I can organise a skin for you, not expensive.
thad May 02 2014 at 10:31PM
Hi, I live in the US… Where might I find fresh goat skin, a butcher or something? Do other skins work as well? (IE. Lamb, Cow…)
Paraic January 10 2014 at 07:10PM
Delighted to hear that Mike. Right, For the Lime you need 1 stone of lime for every 2 gallons for water for a strong mixture. You may dilute if necessary. Soak this for 4-7 days and test if the hair pulls off easily (using rubber gloves!). For the pickle use 3 pounds of salt for every one gallon of water. Let me know how it goes and good luck.
Mike Quinn January 08 2014 at 12:39PM
Hi Paraic, I fancy having a go at curing a skin. What concentration of Lime should I used, and what is used for the Pickle solution?