A substitute for leather.--There are two modes of preparing skins for use--one is by tanning, and the other by tawing.
The first of these requires months or years; the last only a few weeks.
The first produces thick leather, the latter thin.
In tawing, the skin is soaked and scraped to get rid of the hair and putrescible parts, then treated with alum and salt; then stretched, and scraped, and rubbed to make it flexible, and in some cases saturated with animal fat. It is not only by custom and convenience that we are confined to leather in the making of our shoes.
Any substance which will exclude water and which will endure the rubs and thumps given by the foot will do for shoes.
A hatter can make an excellent shoe out of the same felt and by the same process which he uses in making hats; using one other mould, and some waterproof mixture in the sole to keep out the wet.
A farmer may make a very pleasant shoe out of an old wool hat by providing a suitable sole; and he may provide a suitable sole by combining several thicknesses of felt with a little wax and rosin, or wax and Indiarubber, or tallow, rubber, and rosin inserted between the leaves to keep out moisture.
Osnaburgs, boiled in linseed oil
, and wax, and then blackened, will do very well for the uppers, only it will require a lining of osnaburgs again to make it sufficiently strong, and to keep the blackened fabric from defiling the foot.
The skins of a pair of squirrels tanned would make a pretty and pleasant pair of shoes for a lady.
Soles of shoes for men (beside the substitute already mentioned) may be made of old saddle-skirts, leather gin-bands, gutta-percha bands, several thicknesses of tough cloth of any sort sewed together and saturated with the waterproof; or they may be compounded of several things — the outer of leather or hardened felt, the inner of cloth or doubled osnaburgs or duck, and between the two a broad and flexible split of white oak, hickory, palmetto-stalk, or birch-bark.--Savannah Republican