The Huntington: Library and Gardens, San Marino CA

There are so many great places to explore in Southern California. From the ocean, to the desert, to the mountains there is always something to be seen. In San Marino (near Pasadena) there is an estate open to the public that houses an amazing collection of art, literature, and botanical gardens.

What compelled us to visit the Huntington was the various gardens and their famous bonsai collection. When we got there we headed straight for the Desert Garden. The Desert Garden is full of very old and very rare cacti, succulents, aloes and unique varieties of desert plants from all over the world. This area ended up being one of our favorites. Filled with vivid colors and dangerous textures, a desert landscape can make you feel like you are on another planet.

After the Desert Garden we continued our trek through the Australian Garden where we saw the largest and most beautiful Eucalyptus trees we have ever seen. Next we meandered through to the Japanese Garden. This is the area where we spent the majority of our day. There is so much to see in addition to one of the most storied and gorgeous bonsai collections outside of Japan (so some say). There is even a traditional Japanese home replicated here, along with a tea house, koi pond and a zen garden.

After a quick lemonade break we found ourselves strolling through the fragrant rose garden. We then headed to the tropical greenhouse, a delicate building that is argueably the most beautiful building on the property. Within this area the bog was notable as it housed various carnivorous plants such venus fly traps and pitcher plants. After that we played at the children’s garden. Our friends brought their two children and we all played like kids in this interactive adventure area.

At five minutes to closing we snuck into the Chinese Garden, which needs much more time to truly appreciate. However, in that five minutes we saw many impressive features, such as the meticulously hand-seeded rock paving.

As we were exiting we got a quick picture of a Alexander Calder installation that you are not supposed to take pictures of... But he’s a personal favorite, so we broke the rules. We feel terrible about it.

We are already planning our trip back so we can check out the things we missed such as the paintings and the rare book collection.

Have a look at our pictures and if you are ever in that area we encourage you to see it for yourself.

The Vernon Design Process

When my Great Grandfather’s wallet was given to me last year I remember staring at it for a while. In that moment I kept thinking about this person whom I never met, yet was always a figure in my life through stories. At that time I had never made a billfold but I suddenly knew it was time and that old wallet would be the inspiration. The most intriguing element of the original wallet was the stamped pattern on the outside and I knew that if this wallet were to claim inspiration from the original then it must have some kind of geometric ornamentation. 

Ace Hotel postcard inspired pattern.

Ace Hotel postcard inspired pattern.

I honed the wallet prototype after about four or five attempts and was pleased with the arching style pocket design, the leather-lined cash slot, and with the construct-ability. It was the geometric pattern that was eluding me…  As a designer, inspiration comes in many forms and from unexpected sources. About a year and half ago, Becca and I drove out to Palm Springs without a plan and we stumbled upon the Ace Hotel. When we checked into the room a postcard was on the table with a colorful geometric pattern on the front and with information about the spa on the back. The pattern was seared into my brain; I didn't realize then that I would eventually use it for the wallet. 

Tanner Goods Key Fob

Tanner Goods Key Fob

Fast forward to mid-summer of this year when the Vernon prototypes were complete, the Ace Hotel postcard inspired geometric stamp had been recreated and applied to the wallets and all the product-shots had been taken. As I was about to release the wallets I decided to do a quick search for the geometric pattern to see if a particular artist had created it. My intention was to reach out to that person and let them know how they inspired me. That search led me to a discovery that was surprising, coincidental and very disheartening. I came across a circular key fob that Tanner Goods (a reputable leather goods maker that provides exclusive accessories for the Ace Hotel) had made. On the key fob was the exact same pattern that I had used for the Vernon wallets. They had seemingly drawn inspiration in a similar way I had, though in my mind, they had much more of a right to it than I did. After first considering contacting Tanner Goods and trying to explain what happened (because I wasn't ready to let go of it), I decided to scrap it and start over. 

After much headache and many iterations, we settled on a new pattern that loosely referenced the pattern of the original vernon. The new pattern is just as dynamic and offers a little more movement when viewed from varying angles. This experience has taught me a few lessons; one must be careful where they draw inspiration from from and how it is applied. The second lesson is in regards to integrity, in art and in business. I recall making the decision to scrap the stamp when I considered how I would feel if the shoe were on the other foot. I probably would not appreciate it and would likely lose respect for that person or company regardless of where the inspiration came from.

In the end, the Vernon wallet is very unique and I am extremely proud of the design, the materials and the overall construction. Now when I look at a completed wallet I not only see a beautiful piece that honors an important man I never knew, but I also see the valuable lessons I learned while creating it.

Hurley Pro, Trestles

Growing up near the ocean it is easy to sometimes take for granted the many beautiful things the ocean has to offer.  We make a concerted effort each September to get into the ocean every single day.  These September Sessions are always hard and this one has proven more difficult than others past.  Despite the difficulty, two weeks ago we threw our tent in the car and made the quick drive to the San Mateo campgroud which became our home base for the Hurley pro at Trestles.  

Professional surfing is deeply connected to Southern California. It is common to paddle out to the local break and find a pro out there catching all the waves. It is also something that many locals are proud of. It has been a long time since a surfer from Dana Point has been on the pro tour(Pat Oconnell was the last one). Whether your guy is from San Clemente or Florida or Hawaii, we all have our favorites. These guys are superior athletes performing a very difficult sport at an incredibly high level.  Perhaps as Southern Californians, we care about this tour and these surfers so much because it represents someone living a dream life.

Lately I have come to appreciate the ASP world Tour even more because Becca, an Oregon girl, has really taken to loving the sport. She knows all the guys and definitely has her favorites (Parko because apparently he is hot, and John John Florence because he surfs different than everyone else).  She laughs a little bit at the terminology (frothing, pumping,stoked, foam ball), but she appreciates it for the athleticism. She also loves it because of the community it creates; around here you don't have to look far to find someone to talk about how John John keeps getting robbed, or how crazy Teahopu is, or how Trestles can expose the weaknesses of the Worlds best.

Save the Headlands Sticker, circa 1992

In 1992, the threat of losing the last pristine section of the Dana Point coastline became a big deal to my friends and I. We attended meetings in the Harbor in support of the groups that were fighting to save the Dana Point Headlands. We were asked to show our support and were given these blue and orange stickers. I stuck mine on a box that I now use for leather tools.

Shortly after we started attending meetings, a group of scientists discovered a rare and tiny mouse that was previously thought to be extinct in the area. That mouse, the Pacific Pocket mouse is not much larger than a human thumb and though it is very tiny it needs a fair amount of open space to survive.  This discovery led the California Coastal Commission to step in and aid in the protection of the Headlands.  

In the end a balance was struck between the developer, the coastal commission, the city of Dana Point and its residents.  Twenty years later and still calling Dana Point home I feel very lucky to be able to stroll through the narrow Headlands Trails in pursuit of whales while keeping one eye out for the mini mouse.

To learn a little more about the Pocket Mouse and the fund raising effort on its behalf, click here.

Lure Wallet & Fishing Trip

Bishop Creek,CA - August 2014

Bishop Creek is in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain range, within the Inyo National Forest. We rigged up our poles for the shallow pools and threw on our waders in search of some Rainbow, Brook and Brown Trout. We caught a few little ones, but not a ton of them.  Prior to setting off I decided to make a few lure wallets to help keep our best lures primed and ready. Made from brown and black chromexcel leather and shearling on the inside, these 6" by 2.5" cases fit perfectly inside our vests.

The Sierra Nevada's are beautiful and powerful while at the same time very peaceful.  It was a little sad to find evidence of a 3rd straight year of the California drought in low lake levels, dry plants and the presence of black bears in the campground at night in search of food.

Enjoy the pictures and contact me if you are interested in a custom lure wallet.