Quick disclaimer: this next post is probably the dorkiest one we have written so far. It is not for the faint of heart.
Robin, in her Clark Kent day job, is a mapmaker. She uses advanced software programs to make detailed, beautiful, interesting maps, for all kinds of clients and with all kinds of applications. One of Robin's biggest pet peeves, even more than people spelling Colombia with a "u," is the overuse of the Mercator projection (you know, that awful map where Greenland looks as big as the United States). The inherent problem with any map projection is trying to transfer a three-dimensional object to two dimensions.
Working with leather is a lot like working with maps. Like a map, a leather hide is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional object. Leather is a natural material. It's the skin of a dead animal, complete with stretch marks, small nicks and cuts, and even the brand on the animal's backside. Some parts of the hide are like Greenland on the Mercator map - stretchy and un-usable. Any good leatherworker has to learn how to work around these limitations and make efficient use of the hide. For example, making sure to cut strap pieces out of the cow's back, often the straightest part of the hide. That problem-solving is one of my favorite things about leatherworking.