Laser Cutting and Fly Fishing with Bryan Ingersoll

Bryan Ingersoll has spent a career as a user-experience designer in the corporate world and at ing-creative, a company he formed with his wife Alana. He helps clients do many things: design, branding, videography, photography, prototyping, and even glass blowing (when he teaches classes at Third Degree Glass Factory, at least).

But since joining TechShop, he’s been more focused on his own projects.

Ingersoll had a plan when he joined the shop. Using his digital and design skills, he wanted to develop an idea from scratch to finished product, and he wanted it to be something he himself would like. That product? Custom fly fishing boxes, a project he dubbed Feather Hook Box.

He started production. But before he had finished, Ingersoll got some serendipitous news: The national Fly Fishing Film Tour was headed for St. Louis. He had to rush production. Luckily, he finished in time to promote his fly fishing boxes – through to what had to be the best possible focus group around town that week.

“Since then, I already have orders,” Ingersoll said. “It’s really taking off kind of quickly. I mean, I expected this to be a little side project, but the interest in it has been pretty strong.”

Ingersoll said the key to his product is that it’s customizable. People can order boxes with their last names or family crests etched onto boxes, or Ingersoll can produce custom boxes in bulk for shops around popular fly fishing destinations, like Rocky Mountain National Park.

For that to go smoothly, Ingersoll hopes to ramp up the production process. He said he’s considering hiring TechShop members who might want to learn more about design and machines like the ShopBot and laser cutter, both of which Ingersoll uses to make his boxes.

“If I had two people working, if we had the side-by-side ShopBots, then not only could I be training them, but we could have two machines running right next to each other,” he said. “We’d double the workload.”

Ingersoll said the healthy collaboration at TechShop is facilitated by a sense of openness and community.

“Everybody’s very sharing with their knowledge because nobody’s trying to do the same thing,” he said. “You learn from each other, and you apply what you’ve learned to your own projects and your own ideas.”

The broad access to resources at TechShop also creates fascinating possibilities.

“It’s just not that there’s a bunch of great tools there, and a great network of people, but the tools work together in a lot of unexpected ways,” Ingersoll said. “It isn’t something you can just write in a book.”

But for Ingersoll, one of the most exciting things about his project and others developed at TechShop is that they’re all made locally.

“It’s something that fits the spirit of what everybody here is trying to do: bring some high-design manufacturing back to St. Louis.”

You can find Ingersoll’s fly fishing boxes on the Feather Hook Box website. You can also visit his Etsy page to check out the custom earrings that he and wife Alana make at TechShop.