Reading the Earth
Illustration by Ilian Iliev
Reading the signs of the Earth can easily turn it into an open book for the careful observer. That’s what we learn from Johnny and Taylor, a crystal hunting couple in search of treasure — an internal and external one.
Tell us a bit about yourselves and the things that inspire you.
Our names are Johnny and Taylor, we are artists, creators, snowboarders and rockhounds. We’re a couple currently living in Big Bear Lake, California, in the mountains between the beach and the desert. We find inspiration in many things like mythology, geology, ancient legends, science, quantum physics, and metaphysics but at the root of it all… nature because it’s always raw and real, it reconnects us to ourselves, and everything comes from and returns to nature.
When did your love of geology start? Was it shared or did one of you inspire the other?
Our fascination started when we were young, like most kids sparking imagination in rocks and fossils, but we got hooked as adults. We had just moved to Big Bear from Salt Lake City to be closer to our families, but we didn’t have secure jobs. Every time we got stressed about money or life, we would go for a hike. Somehow it came up in conversation and some lady told us of a local place to find crystals. Though it was something we had never been into, it lit a fire in us to find it. Once we did, it was like we tapped into a flow of inspiration and it came very natural.
You started searching for gems as an outlet of creativity and to fund a snowboard trip. How did this hobby turn into a full-time job for you two?
Yeah, we used to drive out to High Cascade in Oregon to visit friends and snowboard. At the time we just made leather phone pouches and feather earrings to sell at the staff sale and fund our trip. A man from a local shop in Salt Lake had seen some of our leather work and asked if we would make more for his boutique. Up until we moved to Big Bear and found the crystal spot here, it had just been for fun, like a stepping stone until our path was made more clear. Once we got into it, things fell into place, opportunities, more shops, new friends and collaborations.
When and where was your first adventure that turned out to be a calling?
A year or so of diving into the geology world, we started taking longer camping trips to the Eastern Sierras. The scenery is humbling and it’s another level of digging than our local spots, bigger crystals too! It just became clear that
it wasn’t just about going out and finding treasure, but it was the whole experience of reading the Earth and connecting that was addicting.
Crystals are a bonus.
Tell us a bit more about your motto “Live Free, See Truth” and the name “Third Eye Co.” What’s the inspiration behind them?
We had been making random things with no real direction and had gone to speak with a psychic we had known for a while, she told us we needed to come up with a name and logo immediately. It was at a time when we started exploring more spiritually and waking up to a lot going on in the world, so we wanted to incorporate that. The third eye is thought to keep your soul and consciousness, it’s where intuition and enlightenment happen.
“Live free, see truth” basically means to go about your life pursuing not only external truths, but internal ones too.
Apart from crystal hunting, you two are passionate snowboarders. Do you see the creation of jewellery as a way to carry the mountain wherever you go?
Yes you could say that!
Each piece definitely holds a personal memory from trips and carrying that energy is like reliving the moment we found it.
Making jewelry with our finds is a way for us to share that with others and they too get to carry a piece of the mountain with them.
How often do snowboarding mountain trips turn into crystal hunting ones? And the other way round?
Probably every time we go on a snowboard trip we find crystal spots on the way or hit up our known favorites. We even found a spot right off the side of a run at our local mountain, and in the spring we can snowboard right to the dig!
Does the search for gems require a special state of mind or a sixth sense? Is luck a big part of the process?
Over the years we have learned so much about geology and reading the Еarth, what signs to look for and mineral information. Each time we go out we learn something new. We have definitely had a lot of luck, a lot of hard work and not giving up, but many of our best finds were when we were able to clear our minds, enjoy the process and follow feelings or even dreams to go in a certain direction. The “Dream Pocket” was found by following a dream of huge Smoky Quartz crystals, and in real life it was even better!
You say that each piece you handcraft has its own story. Do the gems help you recollect certain trips or adventures?
Yes, sometimes it’s almost like a snapshot from when it was found.
Each crystal has its own story from whatever adventure it came from,
but also the shape, color, and size will dictate the design. Almost like they “tell” us what to make out of it. We often tie certain themes into our pieces that match the properties and mythologies of the stones.
The California desert is home to unique landscapes, plants and animals. Did the frequent travels there inspire you for another hobby besides geology?
The places we go to find crystals are usually surreal and beautiful, so photography and making videos seem easy out there.
It’s fun to explore the vastness, find old mines, ghost towns and hot springs,
which inspires us to show more of our perspective and what makes it all so special to us through YouTube and Instagram as outlets for those aspects.
Traveling across deserts and mountains must come with its own challenges and interesting stories. Is there one that you’ll always remember?
Oh yeah, we have a few stories that come to mind. We have learned to come prepared and improvise on desolate, far off roads.
Shortly after we bought our camper, we fixed it up and hit the road. We were following directions to a garnet location very late at night, so it was dark and we couldn’t tell how treacherous the road ahead was. We were led up a steep, narrow and winding dirt hill where we got stuck on a sharp curve that made the camper lean towards a huge boulder on the right that could really damage it and our truck. We had no choice but to sleep on the craziest slope until morning when we could dig the road out flat. Which is funny now but at the time it seemed ridiculous. Normally our truck takes us everywhere with no problem, but with the new added weight and size of the camper, we learned some new lessons and it definitely reminded us how important it is to be prepared out there.
The events of 2020 must have been hard for adventure seekers like you both. How did you cope with the lockdown?
When lockdown first started, we basically packed up all of our food, drove out to one of our spots in the desert and stayed socially distant that way. We got to stay out longer than ever which was the up-side to not being in the studio fulfilling orders. Sales completely stopped for a while and some of our shops we sell to closed permanently. We saw this as an opportunity to practice what we believe in; to find the positive, to manifest what is best for us, and to stay inspired even though there are no guarantees. We fully enjoyed that quiet time out there. Even though the events of this year have forced us to “think on our feet”, and to stay creative to tackle challenges,
what lifted our spirits most was being outside in the sun and the connection out there away from being bombarded with news every second.
We could decide when we got updates, to control what occupied space in our minds while in our sacred place. When we have to return home, to “reality”, we try to carry that energy with us, but if it starts getting too heavy again, we head back out to nature for a reset.
What’s next — for you and Third Eye Co.?
We always go with the flow and see where our work carries us. We have gotten into casting pieces which is more fine jewelry in silver and gold, we have done a few custom wedding rings and some branded pieces for our line. For now with all the uncertainty, we’re just aiming to continue digging, making more videos and getting more creative with our jewelry and clothing. It’s always a goal to continue to grow on our journey and evolve creatively.