What Is Real Animal Sinew?
Sinew is a fibrous band of tissue also known as a tendon. Tendons connect muscles to bones in animals. These fibers have been used by many pre-industrial societies because they are strong and durable. Real animal sinew has unique properties which make it an excellent material for sewing and binding. It contains natural proteins that act like glue and it shrinks as it dries, so it doesn’t need to be knotted.
Sinew has been used for sewing thread to make clothing and accessories. It is also made into cord to attach blades to handles and arrowheads arrow shafts. It is elastic enough that it has been used to make bow strings. Native Americans acquired their sinew from animals like deer, buffalo, moose and elk.
How To Prepare Real Animal Sinew
Real animal sinew must be split before it can be used. Back strap sinew can be soaked in warm water until it is soft, then gently pulled apart into thin fibers. Leg sinew, which is tougher, can be pounded until it frays and the fibers can be separated. When the fibers are separated, they should be rolled or twisted before you use them. The fiber will shrink as it dries. If it is used wet, the stitching should be loose enough to account for the shrinkage.
What is Imitation Sinew?
In the industrial age, man-made synthetic fibers have been created to be used like sinew. These are called Imitation Sinew or Artificial Sinew. The fibers are waxy and uniform in width and color. They are available in Single Ply and Multi Ply. The Multi Ply can be used as is for a heavy duty thread, or it can be split into thinner pieces.
Imitation Sinew comes on a spool so it can be cut to the required length. It is available in many colors, including a Natural color that is close to the color of Real Sinew. Imitation Sinew is popular for craft projects like Loomwork, Dream Catchers, stringing Chokers and Necklaces, and general sewing.
Which Should You Use?
For most contemporary craft work, Imitation Sinew is the economical and reliable choice. It offers variety in color and thickness and it is easy to work with. For reproduction clothing or accessories for Living History Re-enactors, museum displays or traditional crafting, Real Sinew is the preferred option. The preparation and use of Real Animal Sinew allow the crafter to engage in a historical process. The result is a more authentic representation of the item that is being reproduced.
The Wandering Bull, LLC offers both Real Sinew and Imitation Sinew for your craft work. Multi Ply Imitation Sinew is available in six colors. The Natural color is also comes in Single Ply. Real Deer Sinew and Real Buffalo Sinew can be purchased for reproduction projects.
Watch our YouTube Video Sinew for Crafting!