The Bespoke Blog - The Stories Behind the Products

Learn more about the local and regional handmade goods we stock online and in our boutique store in Downtown Truckee, CA.

Today is for warmth

Truckee might be the fourth snowiest city in the country-- and the most beautiful, in our opinion-- but Tahoe winters are a little different than other snowy climes.

Though very cold, winter here is also bright and sunny, making the extra work of a snow day just a bit more manageable somehow. All that sun and snow is also quite pretty through the window frame of an insulated house, when we're snuggled up with a cup of tea and a good book. Keeping warm and staying indoors can be an adventure, too!

With Truckee temperatures dropping lower than we've seen in recent memory, let's celebrate things that bring us warmth.

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Clockwise from top left: 1, 2 & 4) Merino cashmere and viscose handwarmers, made on a vintage knitting machine. 3) "Let's get toasty!" card from Lark Press.

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Clockwise from top left: 1) Faribault throw; 2) Stress Relief Yogi tea; 3) pendant necklace; 4) Faribault scarf; 5) The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks, by Amy Stewart; 6) Side-zip hoodie from Curator Clothing; 7) Kat and Roger tumbler; 8) Darn Tough socks, made in Vermont.

Guest Post: Touring Truckee Thursdays

We loved sharing Thursday evenings with you this summer!  Whether we were bumping elbows with Tahoe-area artists or doing some sidewalk screenprinting, Bespoke had a fabulous time, and we want to thank you for your support. Thanks also to our featured artists: Aaron Oropeza, Mary Burrows, Chris Crossen and Jillian VanNess.

 Screenprinted shirts designed by local artists, printed curbside.

Screenprinted shirts designed by local artists, printed curbside.

To mark the end of summer, Bespoke invited a visiting writer to recount her personal experience of a recent Truckee Thursday. Here's a taste of Truckee from Melissa Reeser Poulin, a writer in Portland, Oregon.

 Truckee Thursday visitors stroll through a hazy August evening. 

Truckee Thursday visitors stroll through a hazy August evening. 

I've never seen downtown Truckee like this.

When I first visited Truckee Thursday, a little over four years ago, it was a small cluster of market stalls and food vendors. Now, the entire main drag is closed to traffic, and there's a palpable festive energy to the crowd thronging the street.

It's a mix of classic Truckee family vibes and tourist enthusiasm. Neighbors cluster at the market stalls, clutching bags of summer vegetables and chatting about the start of school. People move to the music near the beer garden and bandstand. Artists and shoppers lean toward one another to examine the detail in handmade earrings, cowboy boots and brightly painted ceramics.

But there's also mischief in the air, a hint of the rough-and-tumble outpost town that lies at Truckee's roots. Buskers on their way to Burning Man open their guitar cases on the sidewalk to strum for passersby. A fairly raucous crowd spills from Pianeta Bar onto the street.

I duck into the Slow Food Tahoe booth to find out what local foodies are up to, and learn about an upcoming tour of Truckee vegetable gardens. The Truckee/Tahoe Homemade Exchange connects local makers and bakers all year round, inviting members to swap a half dozen jars of jam for a sampling of their neighbors' homemade granola or herbal tea blend. All of this is making me hungry.

 Truckee boasts some great local grub, including Red Truck's crispy falafel.

Truckee boasts some great local grub, including Red Truck's crispy falafel.

Fortunately, there are tons of delicious food options. Local favorite Coffee And is offering freshly-baked pies and homemade ice cream bars, while the classic pad thai at neighboring Dragonfly tempts other diners. Kids munch on chocolate-covered strawberries and barbecued corn on the cob.

Meanwhile, piles of plump figs, stone fruit, mouth-watering melons and fresh green beans beckon from the farmer's market aisle. Not far, kids work off sugar-highs in the jumping house, and test out snowboards in a (very) pre-season snow corral. 

 Testing out a new board on a cushy "snow" ramp. 

Testing out a new board on a cushy "snow" ramp. 

I linger late, chatting with artists and checking out Pedal Happy, makers of leather beer growler carriers for bikes. I even get a chance to talk with a volunteer at High Fives Foundation, one of Truckee Thursdays' many non-profit partners.

For a small town, it's a big event, and there's more to take in than I realize. I somehow miss out on the mini Iron Chef-style contest going on near the beer garden: 10 minutes, three local chefs, limited equipment and ingredients.

I hear the results were impressive, and I'm not surprised. Truckee packs big city talent into its shops, studios and neighborhoods. I'm looking forward to next year's Thursday night celebrations. 

Celebrate Summer with the perfect picnic basket

We're putting together the ultimate picnic basket, perfect for a solstice outing on the shore of Lake Tahoe, or a quick jaunt down to Nevada City.

To get started, choose a double or single pie basket from Peterboro Basket Company. These baskets feature a handy little shelf inside to keep your goodies from colliding during transport. (Read: frolicking, skipping, and the like.) With sturdy swing handles, it is quite literally made for delivering pies and cakes, but we bet it will become your tote of choice for picknicking and market runs.

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Next, you'll want to set the stage with a soft, durable Faribault blanket. We've written before about this 147-year-old company (see below), purveyors of wool textiles fully crafted in the U.S. Tuck one of their blankets in your trunk, and be ready to take advantage of the next unexpected picnic opportunity.

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And don't forget your manners. Pick up a lovely pair of napkins in organic hemp and cotton, handmade by our newest employee (and favorite Swedish import), Kristen Sullivan. Embroidered with whimsical trees, these will inspire even your most careless picnic-mate toward better decorum.   

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Now it's time to get down to business.  And by business, we mean cheese. You'll want a lightweight cutting-board like this one, complete with a matching cheese spreader, from Moonspoons.

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Pair a ripe creamy cheese with  a jar of jam from Twin Peaks Orchards (Newcastle, CA), and top it all off with a bar of Alter Eco chocolate.  Bon appetit!

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Brad Henry Pottery: Drink Like A Local with a Local Artisan Mug

This summer, drink like a local with an artisan mug from local potter Brad Henry. Bespoke carries an assortment of mugs, cups, bowls, and picnic flasks in a full range of whimsical colors and designs. Handmade just a stone's throw from our shop, they seem made to fit your hand-- a mark of the organic process Henry has cultivated through years of working with clay.

We caught up with him to find out what makes his work unique, and where he likes to go for a drink in Truckee. 

“I think my designs are bold but very approachable,” Henry says. “These are pieces you’re not going to set on a shelf somewhere and say, ‘Oh, no I don’t want to use that.’ They’re humble and approachable.”

Locals are especially fond of the whimsical picnic flask, a new design that combines one of Henry’s classic shapes with the convenience of a flip-top cap. Henry says he loves making the flattened vessels because the surface is like a blank canvas.

We love it for its versatility.  In the summer, decant tequila into the picnic flask and store in the freezer for an impromptu margarita. When the cold weather rolls around again, it’s the perfect vessel for maple syrup. Warm the ceramic bottle in hot water for serving with waffles or pancakes.

Currently, Henry is working on a custom set of larger flasks for a local customer with an outdoor bathtub, where they'll be repurposed for storing shampoo and conditioner.

If flasks aren’t your thing, check out the selection of mugs, cups, and bowls. There are two sizes of handle-less cups that are perfect for your favorite hot beverage. Try the tall cup for your morning latte, and the smaller one for your afternoon chai.

Brad’s favorite spot for both is Coffee Bar — as much for the mad barista skills as for the local vibes. “You always run into at least two friends, and it’s nice to be surprised by the new art on the walls.”

For a nightcap, the busy potter and dad is usually at home. But for a special occasion?

“It’s usually The Cottonwood for just one of their margaritas,” he says, adding, “Just one. Two is too many.”

Trailblazing: Bags from Kletterwerks and Topo Designs

Whether you’re getting ready to hit the trails this summer, or simply need a good catchall for weekend getaways, Bespoke has you covered with new bags in a range of sizes, colors and functions. Best of all, they’re made right here at home. Learn more about two American makers who scouted the best in world craftsmanship to bring you quality outdoor gear—without skimping on style.

Topo Designs
Denver, CO

The team at Topo Designs learned from what they loved: ski gear from France, bags from Japan, a sense of quality and craftsmanship they found lacking in American-made goods. From the beginning, the how and why mattered, and so they worked strategically to build a line of gear they could be proud to produce and sell in the U.S. The result? Handmade bags and gear, and a LEED-certified shop in Colorado.

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Bespoke carries Topo’s excellent Dopp Kit, a triangular bag designed to sit upright for easy access in the close quarters of a hotel bathroom or camp tent. It features a water-resistant lining and a wrist strap, making it a snap to travel light. A larger option for quick trips is the fully-lined Cinch Bag, which can be worn over the shoulder when you’re running to the post office, or fastened at the waist on a bike ride to King’s Beach. Then there’s the Klettersack, perfect for the daily grind or a weekend off-trail camping trip. This bag features leather lash tabs on the outside for your bike light or water bottle. Come by Bespoke to try them all, in several colors.

Kletterwerks
Bozeman, MT

Kletterwerks means “climbing factory” in German. Founded in 1975, the outdoor gear company has its roots in an American climbing community with an appreciation for European outdoor gear. Like Topo, Kletterwerks’ founder Dan Gleason loved the quality of European goods, but not the practice of importing. So Kletterwerks was born.

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Beyond climbing equipment, they make the practical Flat Bag, a simple and durable pouch in an assortment of sizes. Then there’s the Konker Tote, which doubles as a backpack and offers zippered interior pockets for streamlined organization. And we love their Wires Pocket, designed to corral your power cords in transit, and fully lined to protect against a leaking water bottle or lunchbox.

City Guide to Truckee: Friends of Bespoke

Bespoke is excited to announce a new series on the blog: the City Guide to Truckee.

 Andrew Bolam, "John Deere"

Andrew Bolam, "John Deere"

Every month, we’ll cover a small corner of our town, bringing you the places, people, and history that make us feel so grateful to live and work in Truckee.

 Annie Hooker, "Bats"

Annie Hooker, "Bats"

This month, we’re starting close to the heart with some of the amazing artists we’re lucky enough to call our friends. Truckee is home to an active art scene, nourished by local families who know the importance of creativity in a relatively small town. Local innovation and local solutions keep us committed to one another. As a community, we want our successes to be mutual and shared.

So, whether you’re visiting Truckee for the first time, or deepening a longtime relationship with this place, we hope you’ll follow the trail from Bespoke’s door to these studios and galleries.

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1.) Start up the road at the Bolam Gallery, the only gallery in Tahoe showcasing fine art by award-winning local artists, along with work from across the country and around the world. This is the working studio of Andrew Bolam and Annie Hooker.

An English-born artist, Andrew’s interest in the landscape and history of the American west inform his breathtaking landscape paintings. He’s a longtime Tahoe resident with a passion for painting the natural world.

Annie’s work captures the hazy edges and piercing emotion of memory. Her canvases are filled with liquid light cast on everyday scenes, with imagery that seems inspired by mid-century snapshots. (Check out the Winter 2012/13 issue of Tahoe Quarterly for more on Annie’s work.)

2.) About a block away from Bespoke, duck into Riverside Studios, owned by ceramicist Alanna Hughes, Jeweler Sondrea Larsen, Jeweler Mary Guerra & Leather worker Kahlil Johnson.

Riverside Studios has long been at the forefront of the local arts scene, from its studio days on East River Street, when the Truckee River could be heard rushing along at outdoor gatherings. The wild river spirit lives on in its new location on the main drag.

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Along with Riverside’s owner-artists, an impressive cast of local makers keeps this shop stocked with handmade work of quality and, in our opinion, classic Truckee soul. Current artists include Tom Beebe, whose large-scale designs in wood and metal we recently celebrated at Truckee’s recent First Friday.

 Ring by Lorien Powers Studio

Ring by Lorien Powers Studio

3.) Further down the strip, check out Lorien Powers Studio Jewelry, next door to the lobby of the historic Truckee Hotel. You can often find Lorien at the bench in this working studio, handcrafting a custom ring while the mountain sunshine filters through the beveled glass windows.

Her work has an intensity and strength befitting her surroundings, with a focus on the natural character of mesmerizing gems and minerals. Among other hand-selected artists, Lorien features metal work by Lyle Poulin, a native Truckee artist currently living in Portland, Oregon, where he recently launched Hand Forge, his own metal arts studio.

4.) End your tour with a pint from a rotating selection of draft beers at Restaurant Trokay. Here’s to good friends and great art. Cheers!

Post by Melissa Reeser Poulin