Keeping Up with the Jones

Walking down Sunset Blvd. one afternoon in the early 80’s, I noticed the smoggy sunset making an old building glow yellow, highlighting its faux Moorish or Egyptian details like a 40s film noir set. The building was topped with massive bold letters in a font from another era reading Jones Decorating Company.

I snapped a photograph just as a lone figure ambled past Jones’ neighbor, the rundown Olive Motel, battling the burning setting sun. I didn’t notice until I developed the shot that there was a sign on the building saying Jones had moved to a small storefront down the street and that the building was for sale.

Soon afterwards, a few windows were cemented over, some architecture details were chipped off, the distinctive transom windows above the ground floor were painted over, new crappy windows were installed on the ground floor, and the massive letters were taken down.

A yoga studio and furniture store occupied the space for several years until the furniture store folded and the yoga shop moved. Then wood barriers went up fronting the sidewalk and I figured it was time to do some research before the wrecking ball came for Jones Decorating.

Turns out what was left of building was being rehabbed into “three levels of creative office, retail and restaurant space” branded The Jones Building. The property’s website dates the building back to 1928 but I still wanted to know who the heck was Jones and what did he decorate?

Building permits reveal the building was constructed for around $40K in 1928 on Sunset Blvd in the Mayberry Heights Tract by Percy G. Alen for the purpose of “studio and stores.”

By the 1940’s, E.S. Jones enters the picture as the new owner on the building permits which state that the building was being used as a decorating company on “all floors.”

More digging uncovered Jones Decorating ads in old Billboard magazines from the 40’s and 50’s revealing that Jones was a purveyor of eye-catching pennants and glowing banners, but still nothing on the man himself.

Sadly, it was a 1990 obit in the LA Times that gave life to Elmer S. Jones who has been described as a “flag, banner and bunting maker to Southern California and the world.” Elmer Jones exemplified the old fashioned American dream, where hard work actually counted for something. He was a true rags to riches story, coming to LA from Illinois and scraping by until he found a job with a decorator.

Before there was Indiana Jones… Image of Elmer Jones from a 1949 article in Fortnight newsmagazine.

When his boss went bankrupt, Jones swooped in and took over the decorating business in 1926. With loads of ambition and elbow grease, he created a little empire. He made his mark on the city by jazzing it up it for many celebrations including the 1932 Olympics, The Rose Parade, the Academy Awards, and Hollywood Christmas parade to name a few. He even had a hand in designing the Los Angeles city flag.

Jones decorated everything from political conventions to military ceremonies, tradeshows, conventions, grand openings, and holiday parades. At his peak Jones was swamped with work orders and his bustling business employed over 50 people including production men, designers, artists, seamstresses, and salesmen.

At some when point decorating for festivities and events waned, Jones recalibrated the focus of his business to a year-round Christmas store catering to the general public and the Hollywood studios. Many Angelenos fondly remember this epoch.

Jones Decorating Co., 1990’s

As a testament to his work ethic, Elmer continued working in his building 5 days a week until breaking his hip a few weeks before his death in 1990. He was 92. I really wish I would have poked my head inside the store and met Elmer S. Jones, the man who decorated Los Angeles and beyond.

It’s 2019, Jones is long gone, and his old stomping grounds are being repurposed for a new world of entrepreneurs. (Who knows? Maybe his name will reappear on the building.) But in our haste to make old new again let us not forget the men & women who trail-blazed down boulevards like Sunset, throwing up awesome buildings and creating wildly successful businesses sometimes out of nothing but some bunting, banners, flags and ribbon.

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Housekeeping

Need to clean up your music collection? If you still traffic in CD’s, our Upcycled DVD/CD Holders may just do the trick. They are handmade from groovy upcycled record album covers and chockfull of artsy colorful pockets making a spiffy home for stray discs or like-sized mementos.

Each CD Case is one of a kind, so snap ’em up while they’re hot!

Just Whipped Up

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Otherwise ordinary notes just may appear more beautiful when taken in our latest handmade Upcycled Mini Journal.  At the turn of a page, original photography of urban beauty salons will keep your prose stylin’.

Striking Field Notes

Just knocked out a new Bowling Mini Journal. Each one of our handmade upcycled pocket notebooks is a bit different, and that’s a good thing! This one has plenty retro bowling alley pix ready to inspire at the turn of a page.

Daytripping through the Mountains

A desktop-daytrip through the mountains. Don’t you love that fresh air? Here’s a closer peek at the peaks of our upcycled Mountaintop + Skyscraper Pocket Cards. They suit either the city mouse or the country mouse!

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A Spin Through the Stripey City

It’s Friday, so we took a colorful day trip, without even leaving the workspace. Our upcycled City Pocket Cards provided the backdrop to this micro adventure. Bon voyage!

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So Nice We Got it Twice…

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No, you’re not seeing double– turns out we have a couple of a couple of things, especially album covers.

These bold graphic LP Covers (churned out largely in the 60’s) practically  jump right outta the bargain record bin. And who can resist a polka dot party?

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Here’s a look back at some Upcycled CD Cases inspired and handmade from said bold geometric album covers.

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Usually, the album cover inspires the inside pockets.

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It’s CD storage with groovy analogue charm. Check out our latest upcycled CD/DVD Holder Books here.

 

 

¡Adios Pastrami Burrito!

Kosher Burrito blog

The Kosher Burrito once stood on 1st Street between Los Angeles City Hall and Little Tokyo. (Yep, that’s the New Otani in the background.) I snapped this shot with my old 2 1/4 Spartus in the 90’s before it was gone for good in 2002.

Picture a simple lunch counter/ burger stand with a few stools that offered up a cross between Mexican and deli food such as the famed Kosher Burrito which was filled with pastrami, mustard, chili, pickles and onions. Word has it they had pretty good burgers too.

All in the backdrop of Little Tokyo. Only in Los Angeles. Just archive it in the ever expanding file of terrific things that aren’t here anymore.

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We are still left with a few “Mexicatessens” around town– joints that serve Mexican food and hamburger style grub. While amusing and promising in name, the reality is a far cry from the Kosher Burrito.

Share the Love

We are sharin’ the love with free domestic shipping on some hearty handmade goods just in time for Valentine’s Day. Hop on over to the shop to get in on the deal while it lasts ❤️

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Something to Wine About

This week BonAppetit.com featured our Boho Wine Glass Holders in their holiday Wine Gift Guide!

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A little wine at the holidays will make things merry and bright– or at least take the edge off. Any one of these gifts might just make a mensch out of a grinch.

We’ve been cranking out our handmade Boho Wine Glass Holders for years now. It was an idea born from our love of wine AND the great outdoors. If we’re not working, it’s likely we’re grilling out back or porch sitting out front with a glass of wine or a cold beer.

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These Bohos and Hobos make outdoor drinking a cinch. Stick the drink holder in soil, sand, or sturdy potted plant and just add wine or beer. There’s even personalized options if your pal is grabby about their bevy.

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If your stumped about a gift for a grump this season make sure to check out our beer and wine holders and have yourself a merry little Christmas.