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Utility Canvas: Gardiner Shop Creates Bags, Blankets, and Clothing Out of Canvas

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We just adopted a sleek, black mutt who appears to be part Labrador and part seal, judging from her behavior when she comes across a puddle, pond, or any body of water. She’ll even stick her top half in a bucket given the chance. Add her second-favorite outdoor activity — rolling in dirt — and you’ve got a messier-than-average pooch, so I’ve been hunting for a washable, good-looking throw for the sofa that’s durable enough to withstand doggy toenails.

I found just the thing at Utility Canvas, a store in Gardiner specializing (as you may have guessed) in useful things made of canvas. It was started as a wholesale business in 1990 by one-time New Yorkers Hal Grano and Jillian Kaufman-Grano, who have backgrounds in fashion (her) and canoe-guiding (him). The couple designed a line of bags, napkins, placemats, coverlets, throw blankets and pillow shams, and sold them out of a warehouse in Gardiner, where they’d settled. In 1999, they opened a retail store in SoHo. Six years later, they moved the store to Gardiner, which was when locals began to notice that the company existed. “We were a well-kept secret because we’re not good at marketing,” Jillian explains.

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As for the throw blankets or coverlets that I’m in need of: They are made of quilted canvas that’s “enzyme washed,” so the fabric is “soft enough to sleep with and sturdy enough to jump on,” the catalog claims. Coverlets (twin, queen or king) come in 11 solid colors. Throws, which are 54 by 68 inches, come in 15 colors from subdued khaki to a vivid indigo (for $135), or a range of printed patterns for $145. (I like Orange Thistle, but chocolate Amish floral or Aqua thistle might be best to disguise dog dirt).

The clothing line includes neat quilted jackets and coats, and some improbably light-looking sundresses, considering they’re made of such a durable material. The newest addition is upholstered sofas and chairs, which are custom-made by a California company and slip-covered in quilted canvas. All the canvas products are machine washable and tumble-dryable.

Two weeks ago, the couple opened a store in Greenwich Village. “And we just opened a store in Tokyo. It’s very exciting,” Jillian reports. “We’re having our sign repainted so that it says Utility Canvas: Gardiner, New York, Tokyo. Kind of cool.”

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