Week 186 – The Festive Lull

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Nothing, everyone is busy off partying 🙂

Epic Trip #6 – The Leather Satchel Co workshop, Huyton

A small group of Epic Trippers (Adrian, Hakim, Matt) met in leafy Huyton where Keith Hanshaw had generously agreed to show us around. His uncle Steve founded the business as a master craftsman in 1966, and Keith has been innovating by introducing digital fabrication into the mix — we couldn’t wait to get a look at how this all worked.

The laser cutter gets used for creating custom jigs, and for various prototyping duties, like creating custom designs for buckles. The alternative to the latter is to get custom cutting dies machined: these are brutally efficient for mass production, but too expensive/slow for fast iteration.

Laser-cut jigs and a clever focus-tool for materials of different widths
Laser-cut jigs and a clever focus-tool for materials of different widths
Machined Buckle die cutters from the production line.
Machined Buckle die cutters from the production line.

Keith has also innovated by introducing a top-of-the-range UV printer. We watched as he printed a design directly onto leather for a new customizable satchel range they’ve partnered on. This allows them to do single or small-batch designs which would be otherwise impossible (getting printed leather from tanneries requires committing to at least 1,000 satchels in that design.) As well as the cost of the printer, learning to use it effectively with a pliable material like leather took them 18 months.

UV Printer.
UV Printer.

Keith admits that the Leather Satchel Co. is the smallest of the three big players in the UK (Cambridge Satchel, and Zatchel are the big fish) but is confident that they’re the “market leader” in terms of craftmanship, quality, innovation, and customization (from what we saw in the trip, this seems plausible.) Part of this is through the investment in digital fabrication, but actually much of it is from retaining the skills as master craftsmen in-house rather than out-sourcing.

Part of the production workshop
Part of the production workshop

 

Keith shows us the leather stitching machines
Keith shows us the leather stitching machines

The other major factor is the relationships with partners. None of us knew much if anything about tanneries, but it’s a fascinating topic. They work with a number of them, mostly in the Netherlands for various reasons: the UK ones have mostly closed (though there’s a resurgence in small-scale craft tanning), Southern European tanneries tend to produce harder leather which is good for shoes (due to the grass in the cows diet being less rich!), Indian ones have been implicated in environmental issues (with the chrome chemicals used in the colour dying getting flushed into the water system), and Eastern European tanneries use such different processes that they’re harder to work and communicate with. On that last point, Keith mentions that as a customer they’ve effectively had to teach their suppliers how to provide exactly the best sort of leather for them to work with!

Leather stacked for quality control
Leather stacked for quality control

The vast majority of leather satchels are sold to Asia — though there is even a Chinese counterfeiter of their products, the traditional British craftmanship is massively popular. Export requires a keen understanding of differences in expectation: even the high-quality stitching used for the European market had to become even more consistent to avoid whole batches getting rejected by the Japanese!

Afterwards, in the Epic Trip tradition, we went for a drink (Camp and Furnace) and mind-expanding converation about world domination, authenticity, RFID tags, Perl 6, and why QR codes are rubbish.

See more photos of the trip!

Week 185 – Festive Fever

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Monday 22 December, 6:30pm-9:00pm Maker Night

Merry Christmas

Seasons greetings to all from DoES Liverpool. Don’t forget our Christmas party this Saturday from 2pm. There’ll be various things happening through the afternoon and possibly into the evening! Bring some festive cheer, and some food and drink along, and enjoy Christmas with us.

You can get some festive cheer in early by changing the colours on our Christmas tree! Simply send a tweet mentioning a colour and the word “cheerlights” and our tree will change colour, you can even see it on the webcam below! (Updated once a minute now disabled until next year!) More information on how to control CheerLights here.

Even more impressive, you can control the LED screen at FACT in a similar way due to a new installation by MCQN!

Week 184 – Helping LJMU Spread the Maker Message

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Monday 15 December, 6:00pm-9:00pm Sewing Club
Tuesday 16 December, 7:00pm-8:00pm Liverpool Drones Meetup @ The Hub (note venue change!)
Wednesday 17 December, 6:30pm-8:00pm FotE XMAS Party @ Pilgrim (note venue change!)
Saturday 20 December, 2:00pm-6:00pm DoES Christmas Party

Week 183 – Getting Out and About

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Tuesday 09 December, 7:00pm-9:00pm JavaScript User Group
Wednesday 10 December, 6:00pm-9:00pm Maker Night
Thursday 11 December, 3:00pm-4:00pm Epic Trip @ Leather Satchel Co workshop, Huyton
Thursday 11 December, 7:00pm-9:00pm Startup Thursday: Liverpool Startup Club
Saturday 13 December, 10:00am-5:00pm Maker Day

Week 182 – Funding Win for Push to Talk

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Monday 01 December, 6:00pm-9:00pm Sewing Club
Tuesday 02 December, 6:30pm-8:30pm Clojure CANCELLED