At Bespoke, everything you touch has a story. We like stuff and things that are made where they’re designed, by real people with histories of their own. Storytelling is the best part about running Bespoke: we get to know artists through their tales of the vision and birth (and the occasional disaster) of a handmade object. Here are a few samples from the story mill.
“Through all the trials and tribulations, one of the things I realized is that the hammered hoops are really a work of art. You don’t just arrive at it; you really have to work on them. When I finally realized that—that it’s about moving the hammer as quickly and effectively as I can—it changed the rhythm of making them. I had to give up some of the I want it to be like this, and get more into this is a flow. That was a big change for me. It’s a rhythm thing, like playing music or playing drums. When you realize it’s just a part of it, then it becomes fun."
"As soon as I left art school [at the San Francisco Art Institute], I went to work. I was apprenticing with a wood carver. He was really tough. My job was carving the tops of jewelry boxes, and I didn’t get paid unless they sold.
My background was not from a school point of view. It was, “Here’s a hammer. I need you to do this. And now let’s get in the car, and we’re going to go sell it.”
It was the road of hard knocks. I just worked."
Gypsy & Loic
"One day I was just adjusting my Serger machine, making row after row of stitching. When I was done, I threw the piece in the trash and as it was falling, I looked at it and said, wait a second. I put it on my hand, and I said, “Hey, that would make a great wrist-warmer.” It was a great discovery that went onto become our number one best-seller-- by about three times more than anything we had sold before. That was three years ago, and we’re still selling them.
"Neither of us graduated from a classical fashion college. It was a small school, and they didn’t teach you anything about the industry. We learned to make a pattern and sew it. We were about 23 when we finished school, and then we had our son. We had no money, no diploma you could use for a job, but we still wanted to make clothes. So we moved out of the city, lived in a solar-powered yurt, and tried to continue making our clothes. Our son Yasco is ten now, and our daughter Bisou is five. We somehow managed to make it work while raising a kid and living out on a farm.
Lemon Peel Baseball
Working with leather is a revelation. The inspiration for my craft is to take the sculptural aspect of sports balls, and use these forms to showcase beautiful leather. Leather comes in such a wide pallet of colors, textures, and tannages that I am never at a loss for inspiration. Working so closely with leather has taught me what to look for. Not all leather is suitable for my purpose, so experience is an important guide when I select and purchase leather. My goal is to give people something meticulously crafted from beautiful leather. In doing so, I hope people can look at sports, and sports balls a bit differently.
I think I always had the urge to make things, more as a craftsman that what we think of as an "artist". Like many people, I followed the conventional path to a career. Following college, I began working as a photo editor at a large stock photo agency. This lead to a job as the photo editor at Major League Baseball-- a dream job. Very quickly, I was able to fulfill many of my personal and professional goals. But this left me feeling unfulfilled and uncertain about the future. On top of that, I was creatively frustrated, so I returned to a long dormant leather hobby.
Before too long, I found that I was far more engaged in my hobby than my career, so I made a series of decisions that lead me to resign from my job at Major League Baseball. I applied my focus to developing my craft into a self supporting business. I had a very safe and secure career at a company that I still absolutely love, but the urge to create, and the urge for independence compelled me to throw it aside.