Hi. I'm a beginner. I've made a few synthetic bears and want to do real fur. I have a fur coat (I think it is mink) but the pelts seem stiff. I have been reading up on real fur and have tried glycerin to try to soften them. I find it really sticky and messy. Does the coat need to be left a long time to dry after putting the glycerin? Is there something else I can use that is not sticky?
Welcome to TT Peggy!
I have used leather fat on my pelts and it has worked well even on pelts that felt thin and papery dry. Others will not recommend it, but for me it has worked well. I use the stuff that comes in a flat tin and is used for water-proofing shoes etc., but not shoe polish, just fat. Don't use oil as it may soak through and make the fur greasy. I leave the furs for a few days or even weeks so the fat can get into the leather and soften it up. It is a bit messy, but since you line the furs with fabric anyway it isn't too bad. Just don't use more fat than the leather can soak up. Rub it in with a brush.
I don't like glycerin either, didn't make my pelts much softer and felt sticky, and when I researched the subject I found contradictory opinions. Some people say that glycerin actually may dry the fur out in the long run. It attracts water and I fear it might not only soak up moisture from the air, but also from the pelt. I have no hard evidence for this though and I know others will disagree. I read that if you put pure glycerin on your tongue you will get a blister, because it dries the tissue out very quickly. I don't want something like that on my pelts.
Hi Peggy--Welcome to Teddy-Talk!
I use Mink Oil, a natural lubricant that actually comes from mink. It's sold in flat tins for reconditioning leather shoes. I haven't had any problem at all with seepage or mess.
I also clean fur with alcohol--this strikes horror into the hearts of some, but many experiments over the last year have proved to me (at least) that it does a great job of removing guck without drying the pelt or fur. I use only wood alcohol, which isn't cut with water, and treat both pelt and fur with a touch of mink oil once dry. I tried soaking a scrap of mink in water once, just to see what would happen--not recommended, because it dried hard and brittle.
If your pelts are too dry, they might not hold up very well. I'd recommend trying a few gentle tugs, then a few less gentle tugs, to make sure they won't split!