Once a bustling facility Seipel is now a more modest set up since so much industry moved abroad in 1970s and 80s

Once a bustling facility Seipel is now a more modest set up since so much industry moved abroad in 1970s and 80s. Still spread over three floors, the company now employs around 15 people and although they may be thin in staff they are loaded with experience and talent. This has been the key to their survival when so many similar factories were forced to close. Most of the staff have been working in the leather industry for at least 20 years and have an intricate knowledge of their craft. A couple of years ago Seipel was bought out by ALMA Leather based in Aldgate, London who we've been working with over the last few months.

When we arrived at Seipel we were greeted by Peter Rogerson and Rathina Vel. There is not a thing that this pair don’t know about leather, Peter has worked in leather factories his whole life, likewise Rathina who has helped establish factories in his native India as well as the UK.

The purpose of our trip was to finalise the production of our leather Pen Pouches. Naturally the process begins by selecting which hide of leather to use. All the leather we’re using is vegetable tanned, sourced from Tempesti Leather in Italy. Next, Peter cut the shapes of the front and back panels of the pouch. This is done using a hydraulic press and a device similar to a cookie cutter, known as a Knife. Once we have our panels the leather is then split which serves the dual purpose of reducing its thickness and increasing its strength. Peter then handed the panels over to Rathina who began by embossing the back panel. The pressure, speed and heat of the embosser all have an effect on how the markings appear on the leather. Similarly all leather responds differently to embossing which is why we spent just over an hour setting up the machine. Having marked the back of the pouch the two panels are then lightly glued and hammered, which strengthens the edges before being stitched. Now that the pouch is constructed the edges are polished and painted. Rathina explained to us that he only uses polishing spindles from India as they are made from Teak wood as opposed to English spindles that are made from Beech wood. The reason he prefers Teak is that it releases more oil which improves the quality of sealing.

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