Over the last couple of days I’ve made another bullwhip with a plaited rawhide belly. The main difference between this one and the on that I did the other day was that I soaked this one in water (not dressing) to soften it up.
After I plaited the belly and the the rawhide dry it did harden up (not quite as hard as before soaking it). I think that the reason it didn’t fully harden was that it soaked up some of the lube from the bullwhips core. After it dried I did notice that it seemed to be a tighter fit and it kept the tight fit after I lubed it up. So the rawhide was softer, but since it shrunk when the water evaporated it kept the smaller size.
Originally I was worried about it cracking and breaking, but I don’t think that will be a problem because it will soak up dressing from the other layers of the bullwhip.