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.