Kristof Mascher, Fanlac Fish Leather artisan leather craftsman

Fanlac
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When walking in Fanlac , whatever the time of year, push the door of Kristof Mascher's workshop . Unique and warm leather craftsman , he will present his exceptional work to you and if you lend him an attentive and curious ear, he will tell you his strange professional destiny and the history of his family… Because Kristof does not work any leather , it is fish leather , tanned with plants according to an ancestral technique of Siberian tribes, and all thanks to his great grandfather !

The little story of fish leather

To understand the peculiarity of fish leather tanned with vegetable products , we must first understand how the leather is made . Leather is animal matter , it's skin . When there is hair left, it is fur. To make leather, to obtain this flexible , solid and durable material , it is necessary to remove the hairs and to tan the skin, that is to say to work it with chemicals often based on chromium. The purpose of tanning is to prevent putrefaction of the skin . The first men smoked the skins to preserve them, then they applied various greases to soften them until more chemical but rapid and effective processes arrived with the XXth century.

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The problem of tanning is its harmfulness for the environment (requires a lot of water , this is why the first tanneries were installed by the rivers, requires a lot of chemicals), for Men who work leather with dangerous products and for users who may have allergic reactions to leather and its dyes .

Fish Leather Fanlac Creations

Fish leather and its wonderful warm and natural colors

All this brings us to fish leather . Fish is an aquatic animal , its skin is naturally waterproofed , which makes it more difficult to tan because the products do not easily enter the skin. The tanning of fish leather is even more chemical than bovine hides, for example. The natural tanning of fish skins exists, the Siberian tribes had mastered this know-how and used it daily to dress, make shelters, objects ... But this knowledge has been lost over the centuries, with the vicissitudes of History and the rupture of the chain of transmission of knowledge of these mistreated people.

Fish Leather Fanlac Creations

Here, Sturgeon leather, with its characteristic “thorns” along its body, now embedded in the leather.

The Nanai , a Siberian tribe , perfectly mastered this vegetable tanning process and Kristof Mascher is directly linked to the recovery of this knowledge! A few years ago, Anatol Donkan, descendant of the Nanai people, set out on a tireless quest in search of the vestiges of its History. He comes across collections of clothing and objects in several ethnological museums, donated by a certain Adolf Dattan ... He is researching this person, who was a itinerant trader, who probably traded objects from his catalog in exchange for artifacts everyday clothes from Nanai. He then donated these wonderful collections to museums. Anatol Donkan carefully studies the clothes of the Nanais and miraculously manages to find the natural tanning process of fish leather ! He wishes to work with a leather worker to recreate outfits and bring to life the memory of his ancestors. He goes back in history and meets Adolf Dattan's grandson , Dietrich Bernecker. This one is none other than Kristof's uncle, himself great grandson of Adolf Dattan and (extraordinary coincidence) he is a leather worker by trade ! Anatol Donkan works only from farmed fish, not to catch wild fish, because many are already threatened with extinction!

Fish Leather Fanlac Creations Fish Leather Fanlac Creations

The Nanais tribe and their costumes. This tunic required 6 months of work

Fish Leather Fanlac Creations

Top left, with the mustache, is Kristof's great grandfather!

 

Fish leather at Fanlac

For more than a decade, Kristof Mascher has therefore been working on fish leather in his Fanlac workshop in Black Périgord , with skins tanned by Anatol Donkan, who has recovered the know-how of his ancestors, thanks to the great grand -father of Kristof…! A wonderful story, which permeates each of its pieces, through poetry , beauty and sacred forms that Kristof created.

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Fish leather looks like snakeskin, it is the pockets of scales that give this impression. Approaching, we can see wonderful colors , shades of brown / pink, yellow / orange that Kristof puts in the spotlight by arranging them with taste, on darker pieces of leather.

Fish Leather Fanlac Creations

Kristof tells his story, with attentive and curious ears

Fish Leather Fanlac Creations

Lots of pretty, high-quality items

Kristof learned to work with this light, solid, small material (compared to cow skins, will you agree?). He declines his work on small objects all in fish leather such as bracelets (light, comfortable to wear, shimmering in elegant colors), small purses (very nice gift for a child, my daughter fell in love with it…) refined belts … He also creates large pieces , paintings with organic, voluble forms, like dancing figures. For lovers of very beautiful pieces , treat yourself to the pleasure of a unique bag , entirely handmade and with love. In the window of his workshop , they are all more sumptuous than each other and require hours of work, to manage to capture the beauty of fish leather, to capture it forever in a real collector's item!

Fish Leather Fanlac Creations Fish Leather Fanlac Creations

Bracelets and belts

Fish Leather Fanlac Creations

Sumptuous paintings

Fish Leather Fanlac Creations Fish Leather Fanlac Creations

Leather bags, with fish leather inlay

Push the door of Kristof's workshop , open all summer and the rest of the year by appointment (make a call beforehand). Don't hesitate to come in if the " open " sign is out! You will meet a warm and caring person, who will transmit to you the passion for his work and for this unique and original material.

Fish Leather Fanlac Creations

Kristof's workshop (Photo Credit: Facebook page of Cuir de Poisson Créations)

Find out more

https://www.guide-du-perigord.com/fr/selon-mes-envies/culturelle/article-fanlac-

The succulents garden at the entrance to the workshop

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https://www.guide-du-perigord.com/fr/selon-mes-envies/culturelle/article-fanlac-

On the left, the entrance to the workshop, which is on the first street with the parking lot at the entrance to Fanlac, on the left


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