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The Many Uses of Eel Skin

Everyday objects

A pair of handcrafted snowshoes with a wooden frame and webbing made of babiche (strips of leather).

Snowshoes made of babiche

Eel skin used to be rolled, dried and oiled to make thin strips of leather commonly known as babiche. This material was used to make snowshoes as well as the seats and backs of chairs. Eel leather is very strong and served to produce a variety of objects, including moccasins and harnesses.

Today, tanned eel skin is used to make luxury products. The tanning process turns it into very fine, slightly textured leather.

Artist-carver André Sénécal creates objects from dyed eel skin and sturgeon scales.

A small picture of a white sailboat and a sun carved from sturgeon scales. The textured background is made from eel skin that has been tanned and dyed a greenish blue.

Sturgeon scales carved and fixed on a background of dyed eel leather

Apparently, in the early 20th century, when older people had sore joints or needed to immobilize a sprain, they would wrap the affected area with a strip of eel skin. They claimed it eased their pain.