Nov 13, 2012
Over the summer wülf collaborated with the local brand wings+horns to create three unique leather items. W+H is a locally manufactured mens wear line that provides solid utilitarian clothes distinguished by sublte accents making the wears immediately recognizable despite minimal labelling.
The initial collaboration was on a key chain that was included in the W+H's gift bag for buyers at the New York fashion week. Following this, wülf produced hand stamped leather labels for w+h's chino pant. In addition, we produced custom leather hangers used by the stores Gravity Pope and American Rag to display the chino pants.
May 19, 2012
The first annual wülf retreat took place last weekend and was a great success. We headed to the beautiful and secluded Pemberton Valley where our generous hosts, the Michaelchucks have created a slice of paradise perfect for company retreats and weddings.
It was spectacular weekend filled with team building activities including morning yoga, a "swim in" sauna, and a eventful bon fire.
Morning Yoga w/Amanda
Feb 20, 2012
Early lastweek, I returned home to find an unusually high number of emails in my inbox, a number individuals had contacted me who were looking to acquire wallets and ten minutes later a third. I did some detective work and discovered that Josh Rubin from coolhunting.com had come across wülf at Much and Little, a local store on Main st. The Coolhunting feature is the first major press that wülf has received. Since the post, I've shipped wallets off to international customers in London, Paris, and Amsterdam. Just today I received orders from customers in Denmark, Norway, Turkey and Israel.
At the time of the post, I only had a limited number of wallets left in my inventory and I had run out of leather the week before. My leather supply issues started when the band splitter at Lonsdale Leather started to show signs of fatigue. A splitter's function is consistent with its name - I use it to split leather hides to a thickness that is suitable for wülf wallets. The splitter recently split Phillip's finger, Lonsdale's owner, a nip that required 14 stitches. Needless to say it is now fully out of order, and as result, I've been on a mission to find a subsitute.
After the splitter broke down, I called just about every leather shop in town, but struggled to find a functioning splitter. It then occured to me to visit the Dayton boot factory and there I found possibly the oldest motor driven splitter ever made. I fed test piece after test piece through this dinosaur, with every pass, I would shift the blade and adjust the thickness. I spent a day wrestling with this beast, trying this that, turning this screw, loosening that one. At times, I thought I had mastered the old machine; I would get excited and feed in a longer piece of leather. Once or twice I received something back that was usable, but for the most part it was an expensive lesson in the temperaments of old machinery. While at Dayton, I had the opportunity to meet some of the workers and received my first intro to the process of boot making.
Below is the splitter in the basement of Dayton. It is the cast iron machine on the right side of the photo.
In many ways the down splitter was a blessing, as it has forced me to find another more reliable source for leather. I now have an order of premium Veg Tan Leather on route and it's expected to arrive at the end of this month; it will arrive factory split to my specifications.
I had also hoped that, in addition to inventory, I'd have number of other things in place before I received any significant press. However, since the post and subsequent influx of orders on Esty I have been going full tilt. I have a number of new designs that are nearing completion and I've been working hard to put together the resources needed to stabilize operations and meet the growing demand for wülf goods.
Jan 22, 2012
Last weekend, I took part in the first "Beggars Banquet" pop-up market at the old Boneta restaurant on the corner of Cordova and Carral, in Gastown. The former Boneta restaurant space was transformed into a buzzing market, vendors of all types set-up shop and displayed their vintage clothes, books, curious trinkets, and handmade goods with pride.
I arrived Friday night, the space burgeoning with vendors arranging their shops. I was ushered into my spot, and introduced myself to Meghan Branson, from Olla Flowers. Meghan and I set-up around the same time and I watched as she transformed an old cabinet into a little oasis, brimming with tea cup terraniums, delicately arranged with an artist touch.
The event was a big success and from open to close there was a steady flow of seekers and shoppers. The attendees tended to hang out, and I noticed that most cirlced round the space a couple of times, taking time to engage with the vendors along the way.
Check out the Beggars Banquet facebook page.
Cara and Craig from Union Wood took first prize for the coolest display.
Meghan of Olla Flowers.
The Found and the Freed's collection of unique and charming trinkents made for a perfect photo booth.
Jan 5, 2012
Some friends and I toured down to portland a while back, I shot a roll of B&W and had them developed over the holidays. The camera is fully manual, so of the 24, the following photos turned out.
Jan 4, 2012
Black Stone Press is a small print shop located on Granville Island, its defining feature is a set of three Heidelberg printing presses. Heidelberg's are offset printers that utilize either a solid print plate or individual letter blocks to transfer text and imagery onto paper. The majority of the machine's, meticulously maintained, working parts are visible. As such, an observer can begin to intuitively understand how the machine operates. The openness of the machine gives it genuine aesthetic appeal. The cast iron parts balance heavy strength with elements of machined precision. Each part has a purpose and it all works together for a reason.
Black Stone uses a light emulsion technique to transfer 2D images onto 3D printing plates. The printing plate debosses the paper it is printing onto, giving the paper feel and the words "pop". The link below is a short clip of a Heidelberg printing wülf cards; the movement of the machine is pneumatic, giving it a unique rhythmic sound when it is in operation.
David and his daughter Yasmine, run the shop together, talking with them and learning about the printing process and its history adds to the experience of using a higher end service like Black Stone. David is a craftsmen and has been in the business for over 50 years, his passion for print and well honed eye for design inspire creative collaboration throughout the process.
I designed business cards that double as tags for wülf products. The cards are square 2.5"x2.5", on the backside of the card the website is printed along with "who, what, where, when". Next to each of these questions is a space; the idea being that the cards can be filled-in by the crafts-person who made the product. For example, if I make a wallet, then the who? is Alex Fairbairn, the where? is generally my home address. The when? and what? are dependent on the date and the type of product being made.
Nov 8, 2011
Lately, I've been meeting a lot of homeless people. My apartment boarders an alley that is a main artery for "canners" in the city, there are also a number of homeless folk who reside in the area full time. Late September, Sid showed up at the loading bay for Pottery Barn Kids, his radio tuned jack fm. He's got a friendly demeanor, very approachable, no drugs, just tall tans. For the next couple of weeks, I'd hear Sid's radio, look out my window and he'd be there hanging out at the loading bay. It's a good spot as the sun peaks through the buildings until late in the day, I probably hung out with him five times over about two weeks.
One day I had an idea. I'd considered the possibility before, but had not put two and two together. I asked Sid if he'd be interested in stitching one of my wallets. Sid was confident he could do it, having sewed a number of patches onto his jeans in the past. He picked it up quick, and seemed to enjoy the process.
A week later, he returned and we stitched another together to ensure that he had the pattern down. I set him up with a sewing kit, and three wallets to stitch.
Sid seemed eager and said, he'd probably stitch them that night. I was a bit concerned that he would express disappointment, the next day, when i explained that based on current demand I'd have to limit his production.
The next day I left a note for Sid on the loading bay, explaining I would not be around. Then a week or passed and no Sid. I had entertained the thought that he might just keep the wallets and sell them on the street. In an effort to adress this issue I suggested he could sell them, but that I'd want a cut.
Over the next couple of weeks I was not around much; I worried a bit that Sid had been there in the alley, day after day, waiting and wanting his pay. I wrote him another note, but never got around to posting it.
Last night, I was sitting in my living room, and music drifted in the window. I peaked my head out and sure enough, there was Sid, hooded and dressed for the weather. I made my way out to the alley with a feeling of uncertainty, so far Sid had been even keeled. Had he lost all the wallets and gone mad with guilt? Was he pissed that I had not been around?
I called out to him, and he turned, his face still hooded, and out came his smile. The lines in his face a little deeper, colder nights, less sleep. We exchanged pleasantries, and then down to business.
"I've got one stitched" he asserted with a laugh. Great! Awesome! I responded with sincerity. .
He was eager to show me, he held out the newly stitched wallet and the one I left with him for reference, which, he said was one I that had stitched. I guessed correctly which one he had made, the stitching was tighter. (he had stitched them both, but I was happy to see him so proud of his wallet, so I didnt let on to this fact).
I paid Sid and off he went. Sid's got a phone now, month to month, with Wind. We exchanged numbers, and I showed him how to answer the phone. He said he's been calling his mom, but I'll have to see it to believe it.
Nov 1, 2011
Last week, I delivered the first commercial order of wulf wallets to the boutique store Chrome Yellow, in Gastown. I met Michael Burt and Juno Kim, the owners, at around the time wulfworks was getting started. I'd browsed their store in the past and was drawn to its selection of unique, quality crafted goods and ware. One aspect of Crome Yellow that I like most is that each time I visit the store one or both of the owners are present and on the floor. I've always enjoyed talking to small business owners, hearing their stories and learning from them.
207 Abbott Street, Vancouver, BC
Oct 18, 2011
Today marks the end of the first production run of wülf wallets, in total 33 wallets have been laser cut, polished, and stitched. About a year ago I started hand cutting and hole punching wallet templates; the original plan was to have a steal dye made and then use a "clipper" to cut out the wallets. Around mid summer I discovered that leather could be laser cut. Laser cutting is more expensive per wallet, however, it allows for greater flexibility in prototyping and the laser can brand and cut the wallet in one go. There are also aesthetic pros resulting from the use of a laser cutter, such as cleaner edges.
The laser cutter bed is pictured below with Ryan, from Hopewell Works, removing a customers order from the bed, post cutting. (www.hopewellworks.com)
Left over leather pattern.
The finished product.
Lastweek, I biked down to John Roger's park and ran into Dave B from Hey Ocean (heyocean.com), he was there playing guitar with a friend. I sat nearby, listened and stitched a couple of wallets on a bench.
Last Sunday S.S Close (thesocialfeed.com) came by the workshop and helped me complete the first bulk order for some co-workers at KPMG (previous employer).
Polishing up wallets, pre-stitching, with my new shoe polish kit purchased from Old Faithful (www.oldfaithfulshop.com).
And so concludes the first month at wülfwork.
Oct 11, 2011
Thanks-Giving weekend, some friends and I hiked up to Brew Lake mountain hut. Brew Hut "three" is situated just below the peak of Brew Mountain, north of Squamish B.C. The hut is highly exposed to the weather, as we learned on the first night when a storm blew in just as we arrived. This precarious location was chosen for a reason, despite standing in the way of everything the big bad wolf has got, it accumulates minimal snow load (the wind blows it elsewhere). Brew huts one and two were located at lower altitude plateaus where they were sheltered from the elements. Brew one was lost during a heavy snow fall winter and not found until the following summer. Due to snow load, both previous huts sustained structural damage. Brew two provided us with heat over the weekend (firewood).
The hike in was long and arduos, made worse by the fact that most of our group had hardly slept the night before. Friday night, I made it to my friends couch by about 4:30am and slept till 6:15am at which point the "online alarm clock" woke me up (my phone was dead). I walked to the nearest Mcdownalds got a coffee and a burritao (only because that's the only thing open at 6:15 on a saturday morning) then walked to Ian's apartment and pelted his window with chestnuts (at first, his neighbours window) until he woke up and yelled at me (it was 6:45am, we were supposed to meet at 7am, and he was grumpy). I "car2go'd" home, packed my hiking backack, and got the food together. In time, the rest of the guys showed up and we hit the road by about 8am (Luke forgot his boots). I don't think Sandy slept at all that night, we were all a little battered. At around 5pm, we crested a ridge and found the hut perched on rocky saddle eveloped in fog.
The Hike Up
Lost in the woods (briefly).
Sunday morning, we awoke to find ourselves surrounded by spectacular panoramic views. We hiked to a nearby peak and had a mountain top picnic.
Sundaynight, we cozyed up and cooked a Thanks-Giving veggie curry, and conjured a witches brew on the wood fired stove. The light of the nearly full moon filled the cabin as we gathered round the table, candles burning bright. Mini-speak our seventh companion provided the music, it was a night of solid brew bonding and many laughs.