oh lifer there wasn't a doubt in my mind you followed through but i SO appreciate the photographic evidence.
Hey kook, how'd this pan out? The thing about the alcohol is real. When I took shoe-making class, we sprayed on "leather stretcher" when we needed to soften and stretch the leather. I think it was probably something like half rubbing alcohol and half water. You might want to check it out.
the freezer totally worked!