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American Indian Parfleche bag

Rawhide is simply untanned animal skin; its cousin, leather, is tanned animal skin. While we tend to think of rawhide as something for our canine companions to enjoy, it has countless uses both now and throughout history.

The Sioux Nation used rawhide as an early plaster cast—wrapping wet rawhide along a long bone fracture, where it would slowly dry and help to reset the bone. Rawhide is still used in constructing horse saddles, because it can stand up to rodeo activities. We use it for drumheads, lampshades, and wooden bows. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights (which are currently housed in the National Archives) were all written on parchment, another form of rawhide.

Next time you find yourself in Wyoming, stop by Kings Saddlery in Sheridan and see all the wonderful uses for rawhide their museum has on display.

At Rawhide Studio we have chosen to work with rawhide over leather in part because of rawhide’s translucence. Applying paint to leather completely covers the beauty of the material and darkens the paint color, while rawhide's natural beauty can still be appreciated when painted. The iridescent colors we use shimmer and shine in the light, creating a beautiful and truly unique piece of jewelry.

Rawhide Studio has taken this traditional material and put it to a new use in a line of contemporary hand-made jewelry with a Western flair. Please take care to avoid prolonged exposure of your Rawhide Studio pieces to water; while rawhide is quite durable, it becomes soft and pliable when wet.