Truckee's community of artists has deep roots, but it also has branches-- makers who got their start in the mountains before venturing off to other parts of the country.
On our recent trip to Portland, Bespoke reconnected with Truckee local Lyle Poulin, owner of Hand Forge Metal.
Lyle grew up not too far from Bespoke's doors, working in his family's metal shop. He and his two younger brothers helped their father, Tom Poulin of Poulin Steel Fabrication, with small tasks until they were old enough to learn the trade. While his brothers ultimately chose different paths, Lyle returned to the trade he grew up with. He founded Hand Forge Metal in 2009, combining his skills in functional, decorative ironwork with his interest in fine jewelry, art, and traditional blacksmithing.
While living in Truckee for a few months after college, he began crafting and selling hand-forged bottle-openers at Brickeltown's first Thursday events. Combining classic blacksmithing skills with his interest in great beer, the original baled bottle-opener became his most successful product. He has since perfected the design and developed an aspen leaf-inspired opener, forged from a solid steel bar.
After moving to Portland in 2010, and marrying in 2011, Poulin began creating custom damascus steel wedding bands like the rings he designed for himself. He also crafts custom knives for a variety of purposes-- from Japanese chef's knives to fine art damascus blades. Building on the foundation of his family's craft, Lyle is self-taught in blade-forging, damascus, stone-setting, and fine jewelry techniques.
With a working shop in the middle of Portland's busy Hawthorne district, Lyle has become a modern version of the village blacksmith. Small-business owners approach him for custom work on a variety of projects, from golf accessories and furniture hardware to beekeeping tools and other odd jobs. He enjoys taking part in the local community. A member of the Creative Metal Arts Guild, he participates in several public demonstration events throughout the year, sharing his trade with people of all ages.