Part 2: Wetting and Forming
At this stage we are going to shape the flask.
The leather needs to be really wet, so we take a bowl of tepid water
The flask is dipped in the water and submerged.
You'll see bubbles escaping from the leather. This is a good thing. The air is being expelled, the colagen is softening and the leather is becoming maliable and soft.Be careful at this stage. Any tools or objects that come into contact with the flask at this stage will mark the leather and it won't come out. So handle with care.
I open the hole in the top up, and use my fist like a funnel. Then I use a cup and just pour some pearl barley into the flask.
It fills up pretty quickly so it need a bit of help getting in there. I find blowing it open like a balloon opens it enough for the barley to fall to the bottom.
Now I take a piece of dowel and ram the barley in. Don't be gentle, really ram it down hard. You want the force to be enough so it forces the barley to push and stretch the leather sides outward
You can see here that it is starting to swell. There's about a cup and a half of barley in at this point.Keep pouring, blowing and ramming until the barley is right near the top. But leave enough room to fit the cork.
Here's the flask full of barley and fully shaped. The cork is in and it is important to fit a cork. The reason is to make the mouth nice and round. If it dries oval (which it would otherwise do) you will find it difficult to fit a stopper for it later, once it's waxed.
Here's the cork from the top.
Now all it needs is to dry thoroughly (certainly overnight - possibly two days). I put mine on the mantlepiece above the solid fuel fire, but I have used an airing cupboard before. Next we will look at emptying and getting all the barley out, then hot wax dipping and finishing with making a wooden stopper.
Part 3 to follow soon.