Animal skins are warm and draught proof, a traditional naturally insulating material essential to life in a cold climate, whether as a bear or reindeer fur coat, as floor rugs to keep the home warm underfoot, as bedcovers and mattress covers for night-time and as hangings over doors and windows. The iconic Swedish Ice Hotel depends as heavily on skins for all levels of comfort, as do the nomadic herders whose live stock provides for their needs.
With the advent of central heating, the use of skins has become decorative rather than essential, but there is no denying that fur curtains, bedcovers and flooring make economic sense: they are warm and efficient, don’t crease and take up little space. Use skins as floor rugs over old suspended wooden floors to hold out draughts in bedrooms, bathrooms and corridors; a long pile skin in front of the fire is a luxury (seal, snake, rabbit, cow, bear, reindeer, goat and sheep skins are good for texture and colour in varying colour and pile…).
Sheepskin fleece and rugs are the perfect and safest sleeping arrangement for babies – the wool fibres are constantly adapting to temperature and climate change, they allow air to circulate, any moisture to be wicked away from the skin, are always warm and never too warm – the fibres ‘breathe’.
Always buy skins form a known source where they are from natural wastage or by-products of necessary hunting. Rabbit skin as food by-product can be coloured and cut to look like almost any other skin. Hides for leather and suede, such as cow, pig, and kid can be dyed in any colour and treated for interesting and subtle surface textures.