Walnut Studiolo Rolls Out Solution to Travel Dice Dilemma
The hand-crafted brass case gathers character with time, making it the heirlume material. Photos: Erin Berzle
“A Dice Man without his dice is bound to end up eating the wrong ice cream,” - Anonymous.
AS THEY say, it's best to keep your friends close and your dice even closer, which Walnut Studiolo made that much easier with their Travel Dice set.
The original Dice Man, Luke Rhinhart, had a custom built wristwatch case for his die, which dice he rattled around at will, changing personalities faster than Mystique. With Dice Travels, I lost several dice before I fashioned my own necklace to hold a cube in a case used by Thai Buddhists to hold an image of Buddha.
In 2014, Walnut Sudiolo launched the Travel Dice set – though I found out about it too late to bring on them on my most recent dice adventure. Inspired by the pocket games soldiers carried with them during WWII, Geoffrey and Valerie Franklin set out to create the world's finest set of travel dice.
Walnut keeps both Valerie and Geoff fully employed. Photo: Erin Berzel
“Making the case has flexed Geoff's metalsmithing skills. He shapes, edges, and perforates brass tubing, then fashions a wooden plug to keep the dice in at the bottom and secures it into place, Valerie explains. “The brass dogtag chain was a particularly elegant design decision – we are inspired by Apple to try to make every design feature perform at last two functions - it is both the closure that holds the dice in the case as well as the loop that makes it easy to carry as a keychain or necklace.”
The business started with modest, personal goals. In 2008, Valerie and Geoff moved from the suburbs to the cycling-friendly neighborhood of Southeast Portland, Oregon, and started a bicycle commute to work. However, Geoff couldn't trick out his bike in the style the 8th generation Oregonian believes is appropriate.
Though Walnut Studilio started with leather bicycle concepts, they've quickly expanded. Photo: Erin Berzel
“I found I wanted things that didn't exist, like old-fashioned leather bar wraps. I was poring over a book of modern photography of vintage Italian bicycles, when I noticed all the leather accents that must have been nearly 100 years old still looked gorgeous. I couldn't find anything on the market like I wanted, so I decided to create my own unique designs for myself,” he explains.
The next year Valerie started putting his custom made products on Etsy, and Walnut Studilio was born.
Bicycle accessories have been the core focus of the business, but as they grew, the pair expanded into new fields, such as beer, architectural accents and travel games.
Geoff and Valerie launched the travel dice set, the same year Forbes magazine posted Walnut's travel domino set on their 10 Great Gifts for Travelers, 2014.
Though they have a great deal of experience working with leather for bike accessories, as well as for the beer case Esquire made a fuss about, Geoff and Valerie settled on brass for the dice case.
“We experimented with leather and wood cases as well as brass, and the brass was both the most economical to produce and reminiscent of World War II soldier games that inspired the Travel Cribbage Board,” Valerie explains. “Our dice are small enough to travel light and lean, but big enough to feel substantial in the hand during play. In an elegant design, the dice are secured inside the brass tube with a beaded brass-plated chain that can be worn as a necklace or carried as a keychain.”
The set, which contains six dice produced in England by a classic game maker, was designed exactly for that – games. You can play Yacht, Farkle, Craps, 10,000 and so many more games.
Walnut Studiolo is popular in the US and Europe. Photos: Erin Berzel
What the pair didn't realize is that they were also rolling out the perfect deciders for Dice People on the road.
Now that they do, they love it.
“I think that's brilliant! It gives a whole new meaning and function to dice - just like the Apple design decisions, trying to make everything perform at least two functions,” Valerie says. “I can't wait to try it out myself next time we're on a road trip! We'll let you know how it goes!”
Now that's an adventure Dice Travels can't wait to hear about!