Friday, October 30, 2009

Rattlesnake Bonanza

Let me start this post with an apology to anyone with a snake phobia. I've seen some strong reactions and it's not my intention to disturb anyone. Feel free to leave without reading this post - I won't be offended!
Though I must confess to a certain amount of squeamishness around live snakes, I've always found the skins to be beautiful.
There is a wide range of color and patterning in the snake kingdom.
Among my favorites is the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake of North America, also called a coon-tail rattler for the raccoon-like striping just above the rattle.
This gorgeous creature has incredible camouflage for its environment and a distinctive warning system to alert anyone who may stray too close. Nature designed them exceedingly well.
I've worked with rattlesnake hides in the past - they make handsome hatbands, belts and wristbands - but it's been awhile.
That's primarily been an issue of supply; once upon a time I got hides from my father-in-law when he was alive and living in New Mexico. He got them from a local wrangler who hunted rattlers to milk for venom and then release, or sometimes to kill, skin & eat.
Though commercially tanned rattlesnake hides are available, I have resisted using them because of my aversion to using products from animals that are killed simply for the skin, as I am sure is the case with the bulk-produced hides.
A few weeks ago at a local craft show, however, I met a woman who lives part time in my area and part time in Arizona. Turns out she & her husband are rattlesnake wranglers.

Long story short, I once again have a source for conscientiously harvested Diamondback skins.
I picked out a handful and plan on spending some time soon turning them into cuffs and hatbands with rattles attached. Watch for them in my Etsy shop and on my website soon.
*Picture of my handcrafted wristband courtesy of Devon Akmon. Picture of the live snake taken from public domain site, credited to Michael Smith*