Continuing on with Costrels, Cordwaining, and 6th Grade Leatherworking Lessons…

Welcome back. Where was I? My workbench is such a mess right now…
Oh, yes… cordwaining. We were making shoes, weren’t we?

When we left off, I was getting started on a pair of shoes to cover those wooden lasts you can see on my bench in the photo above. Unfortunately, it took about ten seconds of testing my hand on the short list of necessary stitches provided to me by Francis and the site of Marc Carlson, before I remembered how out of practice I am and just how long ago it was that I learned all this stuff.

When I was in sixth grade, back in Missouri, I was enrolled in a class called “Industrial Arts” where we learned to work with wood, plastic, and leather. It was fun and it taught me nothing that would be useful in any industry practiced anywhere in that postal code, even in the 1980’s. But it did put me on the path that led straight to this project.

Flash forward to a new century, and I started going into more three-dimensional leather sculpting, making Commedia dell’arte masks. As I believe I’ve mentioned before, those masks are complex and challenging and fun to make , but I didn’t fully appreciate how much they are just an entry-level project compared to proper shoemaking.

Cordwaining might well be the most advanced class of leatherworking I ever attempt. I was ready for shaping leather, but not for the sewing. There’s not much sewing in the masking trade.

To prepare properly, I’m going to make two projects that are neither mask nor shoe, but which will allow me to practice key aspects (read: sewing) of the craft that are specifically relevant to the cordwainer.

The first project will be a costrel, which is a water vessel and a step back into the guild of horners and leather bottellers. Last time, we made a jack with a flowerpot, but this time we’re essentially going to make a leather barrel for holding water.

When it’s done, it will look something like this.

But we have a few steps we have to take to get there, and at least one cool cordwaining tool to make in the interim.

More tomorrow.

~ Scott


  1. Any progress on this? You haven't posted in a while and I just want to make sure everything's alright.

    No, I don't have a connection to you aside from this blog.


  2. This time I'm not sick, but have had a can't-pass-up super-secret project drop on me out of the blue. It is sapping all my creative energies and time at the moment. Mostly time. There's more to come soon. I have shoes to make and a costrel to finish and there are sheep to shear and wood to turn and heaven knows what else waits in the wings.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s