Through Jade's Eyes

This blog is about the fictional character, Jade del Cameron (, and the historical time period in which she lives.

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Location:, United States

I'm the author of the Jade del Cameron historical mystery series set in 1920's Africa. Lots of action, intrigue, mystery and a dash of romance. Follow me at *The audio link (view complete profile) is an interview by Baron Ron Herron (9/17/2009, Santa Barbara {CA} News-Press Radio, KZSB, AM 1290

Monday, June 23, 2008


Moroccan leather was the finest quality leather which bound innumerable books in the past. In fact, the soft goatskin mainly used for bookbinding, was simply known as morocco. Often dyed a rich, pomegranate-red color, the binding felt cool and smooth in the reader’s hands, making the holding of the book part of the pleasure of reading it. Few people knew the labor that went into making that leather. Jade discovered a little of it in her trip through the tannery district of Marrakech in The Serpent’s Daughter. Very little had changed in the several thousand years to her 1920 adventure and very little has changed since then. These are jobs passed on from father to son in one of the most traditional guilds.

Both Fes and Marrakech have ancient tanneries. While Jade’s adventure took her through those in Marrakech, the photographs here are from my trip through Fes. (photo 1 - above)

Uncured skins from goats, sheep, and a few other animals come by donkey to this district and enter a series of mud brick vats in the long process towards making leather. First, the skins are washed in vats to remove any remaining blood. Lime and salt are next rubbed onto the back to remove the wool and hair. Any wool is saved, and boys trample the wool to soften it. (photo 2)

Skins spend seven days in the white vats, filled with lime and salt water to disinfect the skins. (photo 3)

After this, they enter a large wooden barrel of water for washing. (photo 4 -in center)

The next step is processing in natural ammonia. Animal urine and pigeon droppings make up the bulk of these vats although eucalyptus flowers add to the mix. Following this, the skins are washed again.


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