Tag Archives: Yoshiko Yamamoto

Georgia and the Wayzgoose

Last week, in the midst of our bed-and-mattress madness, Eric and I took a little art break in Tacoma.

I grew up on the fringes of Tacoma, Washington, when downtown was a sad, seedy, and failing prospect. Twenty-five years ago, a branch of the University of Washington moved in and began rehabilitating the derelict warehouse district into a satellite campus. The city transformed the magnificent but down-on-its-luck Beaux Arts Union Station into a U.S. courthouse, added the Washington State History Museum next door, then Dale Chihuly’s Museum of Glass, a new Tacoma Art Museum down the block, and ran a light rail line down the middle of Pacific Avenue. Now, I love coming to downtown Tacoma. This once-sketchy part of the city is now bright and vibrant, and full of people enjoying themselves.

Tacoma's Union Station dome

Ghost signs are still visible on the warehouse buildings that make up the UW Tacoma campus (composite photo; click to see detail).

panorama

 

I’d have loved to live in this apartment building … back in my apartment days.

100-year-old apartment building

Our first stop was Wayzgoose, a letterpress art fair at a bookstore. The word wayzgoose has Dutch roots, and refers to a traditional holiday for printers and bookbinders. Remarkably, Eric and I share an esoteric interest in letterpress printing and typography. Whodathunk? We both enjoyed some letterpress experience in college art classes, and I worked for a printer while I pursued a fine arts degree. (I fondly remember the little Addressograph-Multigraph 1250 press whose care and feeding I was tasked with. In my mind, I remember it as a Disney cartoon, bouncing and chugging and spitting out return-address envelopes for a pair of doctors, while its rhythm seemed to repeat their names: Pogue-and-Duffy-Pogue-and-Duffy-Pogue-and-Duffy.) Anyway …

Eric and I hadn’t even gotten inside the bookstore when we discovered a booth selling (squeal!) entire sets of old lead typefaces! And—OMG—California job case drawers! Hog heaven! A California job case is a layout for organizing individual characters of type. I am old enough to have actually used this system a few times in my youth, although press-on type was all the rage at the time. I’ve always wanted a California job case! How geeky is that? Can you tell where the e’s go?

California job case

California job case layout

I think my fascination with typefaces goes back to my Brownie troop’s field trip to the Milwaukee Journal, waaay back in the dark ages. All I recall of that tour is watching cigarette-smoking men and banging away at the keyboards of their enormous, clattering Linotype machines, casting slugs of type out of hot lead. I loved how the pieces all fit together like a backwards puzzle to make up a newspaper page. (Funny how a random event in childhood can stick with you for the rest of your life.)

Linotype operators

[Source unknown]

Eric bought three sets: elegant 48 pt. Retro script, 12 pt. Bodoni Modern, and 8 pt. Stymie Light—a total of 13.4 pounds of lead. What are we going to do with them? Dunno … keep them until we have enough studio space for our own letterpress, I suppose. Someday soon, an art studio is in our future.

Eric's name in Retro Script

D'Arcy's name in Retro Script

Steamroller printing was a popular spectator event in the parking lot.

large-format printing with a steam roller

Inside the bookstore, several letterpress artists brought their adorable tabletop presses. This is what Eric and I need to buy. Who wouldn’t want one of these little beauties?

tabletop letter press

One of our favorite artists, Yoshiko Yamamoto of The Arts and Crafts Press, was there. (Her gorgeous Colvos Passage—Late Summer hangs in our library.) We didn’t buy another print, but we did get a couple of coffee mugs. Guess which is mine and which is Eric’s.

berry and oak coffee mugs

Hint: The female mug has fruit … the male mug has nuts.

Then we were off to the Tacoma Art Museum to catch an exhibit of Art of the American West and Still Life Art of New Mexico, both featuring paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed in the galleries, but I stood just outside the entrance to sneak a pic of this one. (Actually, mine came out blurry. This is from TAG’s website.)

yellow cactus

Georgia O’Keeffe – Yellow Cactus

Eric’s photography is undeniably influenced by Georgia O’Keeffe. We watched a short film about how she left New York and took up residence in the desert to pursue painting the way she wanted to, which just made me want to retire even more.

Eric’s … or Georgia’s?

purple fowers

Georgia O’Keeffe – Flower of Life II … Eric Shellgren – Purple Clematis

Our next house will provide plenty of gallery space, which we don’t have in our bungalow. I’d really like a place to hang this 24×36 inch print, for instance.

white rose at sunset

Eric Shellgren – White Rose at Sunset

Okay, break’s over. Back to our mattress and bedframe quandary!

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The library reveal

Let’s start 2015 with a reveal of our library! Yes, that’s right, our once-scruffy “spare room” has acquired a new name and identity. Remember where we started?

door to bathroom and windows

What began with flowered wallpaper and grungy carpet was stripped back to acanthus-patterned flooring and green walls …

green and gray linoleum rug

wallpaper and paste removed from green walls

… and ultimately reborn as this:

library

We’re so pleased with how it all turned out. This room really feels good, and even though we’ve been pretty much done for months, sometimes I still walk in just to admire it. I have many “favorite” things in this room, but my favorite-favorite element is the bronze ginkgo leaf stencil. Sometimes things turn out exactly as I visualized, and this is one of them. It makes the room.

C’mon, I’ll show you around. Next to the door from the dining room is my old secretary, an heirloom from my dad’s family, which he refinished as a gift for my twelfth birthday. One of these days I’ll reorganize the interior’s cubbies.

north wall with secretary and sewing machine

interior cubbies in secretary

Atop the secretary is a 1961 National Geographic globe.

1961 globe

When I designed this room in my mind, I forgot to account for my sewing machine. I seldom sew anymore (when I was younger I made almost all my clothes), but when you need a sewing machine, you don’t want to hassle with getting it out of storage and setting it up. Besides, the antique Singer cabinet (not rare) is too nice to stash away. The addition of the sewing machine and the sewing cabinet wedged next to it makes the room more crowded than I’d like. I wanted to buy one of those sproingy leather Poang chairs from IKEA (sooo comfortable) and make a reading corner here … but oh, well.

antique SInger sewing machine cabinet

You’ve already seen the bookcases and Mom’s 1935 typewriter, but I’ve added some details. The green acanthus felt-base flooring  makes better art than floor covering at this point. Had to save a scrap for posterity! The green and yellow slag glass lamp is one of my earliest memories from my great-grandmother’s lake house in Delafield, Wisconsin (she sold the place when I was three). I used it as a lamp on my desk as a little kid (can you believe my folks trusted me with it?), and it survived unscathed until two years ago. When Eric and I were on vacation, we got a call from our housesitter that the cats had caused an accident and smashed not one, but two antique lamps. (Our cats tend to have Risky Business-type parties when we go away.) Eric had the glass replaced for my birthday, and now I can’t tell what’s new and what’s original. The lamp is just posing for this photo. We will clip it to the bookcase to prevent another disaster, because neither it nor the cats will survive another fall—physically or financially.

glass lamp, art and old typewriter

Battery-operated LED lights under the original glass bedroom ceiling fixtures create a nice glow on top the tall bookcase. Same with the glass electric insulators on the next shelf. This library has ambiance!

LED lights under ceiling fixtures shades

The window wall is also crowded with furniture. We simply have too much for this little house, I admit. I would rather have another bookcase here, but this room is where Eric stores his clothes because I have hogged all our bedroom space.

The weaving is Zapotec.

chest of drawers

What’s that, you ask? It’s an antique wooden executive desk telephone. Why yes, it’s been made into a lamp—isn’t that normal? Apparently there was a time in my family when if something stood still long enough, it got made into a lamp. I intend to take the lamp works out of it. Once I get inside, I hope to learn more about the telephone. I have not found anything like it online. It’s sitting on a Corticelli Silk thread retail display box, which was a gift from a friend long before I became a crazy cat lady. Eric and I both have collections of old wooden boxes, some stacked at left (including—what else?—a library card catalog). My parents brought the soapstone carving of a walrus hunter back from Alaska. Not my favorite scene, but interesting nonetheless.

wooden phone and thread display box

The rest of the window wall is devoted to Eric’s desk and computer equipment.

window wall with desk

One day when Eric and I were rummaging around in one of his storage units, I spied this awesome Moderne desk. WHAT was it doing languishing in storage instead of in our house?? So it came home with us to live in the library. It’s a Leopold from about 1935 (same year as my typewriter!) and it belonged to his grandfather. I’m so happy we rescued it.

1935 Leopold desk

Leopold desk label

On the wall above the printer is our 2014 art splurge: a linoleum block print, Colvos Passage—Late Summer, by renown Northwest artist Yoshiko Yamamoto. We fell in love with this triptych years ago, but it was out of print for some time. When we saw it again at the Bellevue Arts Festival last summer, we pounced on it. No regrets.

yamamoto block print

Other improvements include Levelor cellular shades that operate from the top or bottom. They’re a close match to the wall color and really help with temperature regulation, not to mention blocking the view of the neighbor’s back door. And we changed out the woefully inadequate single-bulb ceiling fixture (its green shade is on the bookcase). Now we have plenty of light. I wanted something with a vintage vibe but a modern edge.

ceiling fixture

And of course, there’s that fabulous rug that pulls it all together with just the right colors …

boxer sleeping on patterned rug

Are we really done? Oh heck, of course not! We still need our electrician to rewire the room (we are still running on an extension cord from the single outlet). Because of that, we haven’t tackled the closet, which is unfortunate for Eric. But the room itself is DONE.

So, what do you think of our bungalow library? Want to ask Marian the librarian for a library card and come hang out?

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