We are nearing the end of the half-term holiday and we have had some wonderful experts in over the week. Wednesday and Thursday was the turn of two lovely ladies, Rachel and Jeanette, from the Institute of Creative Leather Technologies (ICLT), part of the University of Northampton.
The production of leather and its many uses is a topic featured in the We Made It Gallery, in fact right at the start with the question, “What has a cow got to do with a car?”.
Well the answer, of course, is that cowhide is used to make the car’s leather seats, in fact it is the cows butt section that is most used for seats as it is tough and hard waring! As well as cowhide the ICLT also bought in some far more interesting leather samples yesterday, including this elephant ear! This is a very old museum piece and Rachel was quick to point out that the elephant was not killed recently for the skin.
As well as some fascinating leather samples, visitors had a chance to learn about many different aspects of leather production, including how to spot fake leather and inspecting the damage insects can cause. However, the most popular activity by far was the ‘make your own bull’ station! These little leather bulls were tricky to put together but by the end of the day every family in the museum seemed to be carrying one!
The ICLT did a wonderful job of bringing to life this fascinating but perhaps overlooked subject for our visitors. Leather is a product that most of us use but, I certainly, rarely think about how it is produced. As a by-product of the meat industry, the production of leather can be a contentious subject however, as Jeanette explained, it is a process that ensures no part of an animal goes to waste. Apparently it is also a brilliant career move if your thinking of a career in the leather industry! The ICLT will be returning for more Meet the Expert events next year and we are looking forward to having them back!