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Rural Women Creates Road Kill Fashions
Linda Gardner, a rural woman from Coshocton, Ohio, has started one of the most unusual home businesses in America. She makes clothes out of the hides of road kill animals.
Gardner learned how to tan pelts several years ago and started out working with rabbit hides. Later she started working with deer hides given to her by friends but they were often skinned poorly and nearly all had gunshot holes in them.
If she were going to continue tanning, she needed furs that were more carefully pre-pared. Since she didn't want to take up hunting, she turned pa a ready and constant source - animals killed on country roads. They turned out to be a ready supply so she started a business called "Road Kill Fashions", making a complete line of leather or fur shirts, jackets, boots, handbags, belts, hats, wall decorations, coin purses, and so on.
The first rule to using road killed animals for their fur is to make sure they're fresh, Gardner says. She can tell by tugging at the fur. If she can pull hair out, that means it has started to decompose and the hide will not make good fur or leather.
"Winter is the ideal time for finding prime pelts. Animals begin shedding as soon as weather turns warm and the fur isn't as nice," Gardner explains, noting that all winter long she carries plastic bags in her car to retrieve any road kill she discovers while running errands.
After fleshing the animal skins, she salts them and hangs them over a beam in the barn to cure. If she's making leather, she removes the hair by soaking the hide in lime and water. She washes all furs and hides in the washing machine with a strong dish detergent. She then stretches them and works them with her hands until they be-come soft and pliable before she begins sewing.
Of all the items she has made, Gardner says her purses attract the most attention. Her favorite is one made from a raccoon with the head forming the closing flap.
In addition to road kill animals, Gardner also acquires stillborn calf hides from local farmers. So far she has worked with deer, rabbits, raccoons, snakes, dairy and beef calves, sheep, skunks, and muskrats. She uses slices of deer antlers and turtle neck bones for buttons, necklaces, and ornaments to hang from her belt.
Contact: FARM SNOW Followup,Linda Gardner, 24526 TR 9, Coshocton, Ohio 43812 (ph 614 824-3832).

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1993 - Volume #17, Issue #4