Friday, April 27, 2018

The Play House

The micro-house that is part of a venerable line of German toys affords me ample opportunity to experiment with arranging furniture that weighs grams. Now and then I break the house down and store it for a while. Intuition/procrastination told me last week was time, and I rooted the components out of the toy chest. The floors and roofs were relatively grubby, so I sprayed and rinsed them in the kitchen sink. Housecleaning on this scale is identical to housecleaning for real, but it's gratifying to stack components in the dish drainer rather than a spare room.

I've been following the tiny house story for the last few years, and this particular tiny house taketh the cake. I'd love to live in something that can be disassembled, hosed down, and rearranged on a whim. When time came to reassemble it, I realized that no roof is good roof. No crouching to see what is going on inside. Daylighting is a given.


A while ago, I visited Golden Gate Park for the first time since the Seventies.I was staggered by the deconstruction of its elegant neoclassical stone landscaping elements. The change must have been recent: there were piles of sawdust decomposing here and there. I thought about the park when I was fiddling with the tricky task of reassembling my little mansard roof. I had been leaving the second floor out of the house to open up the interior. The clever snap-together assembly system is rickety without all the components in place. Lacking the patience for fidgeting and risk, I simply set the roof corners aside as an outbuilding, laid the deck across one end of the open structure, and posted an open neoclassical dormer on the other as a folly -30-
More after the jump.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Liquid Furniture

The brightly patterned blankets that Oregon Rodeo has been selling to Indians since 1863 are the workhorses of my home furnishings. They're architectural in the visual effect they produce and offer upholstery on demand for day and other beds and for seating. In a no-shoes interior, I can set one on the floor to support workouts and naps. Folded or rolled, one makes a good bolster. The pattern makes it easy to configure the blanket in a straight and dignified way. Since the things are collectible, I don't have to worry about sinking capital into furnishings that might be tricky to resell and ship. 

Maintenance is trivial. I ordered some moth traps and set them out to see if the house is really as pest-free as I had thought. A 1926 Good Housekeeping manual had warned that central heating means always having to worry about moth. The traps caught nothing, a considerable relief since the house is not screened. I'm careful about not leaving lights on in rooms that are open.


Museum conservators use a no-rinse detergent for precious textiles. Reasoning that Indian housekeepers would not have had access to dry cleaning, I washed a blanket in the bathtub when the attic was hot enough for quick drying, and the results were gratifying. A good blanket fades gracefully over time -30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Old School Hardware

Washing public transportation off my hands before enjoying beer and a burger at Seattle's oldest bar, I noticed and appreciated the immaculate restroom furnished with straightforward painted plywood compartments. A  simple barrel bolt secured a door, and I realized that piece of hardware is the lock of last resort in many a far more pretentious facility.


I'd rather see one good cast bolt that's seen generations of service rather than a cheapjack one mounted in a sad column of ragged lacunae left from over-designed failures -30-

More after the jump.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Ironing-The Haiku Variant

I appreciate the ease not ironing a linen tablecloth affords, but I want the world to know I know the difference. Setting a steaming iron in place long enough to leave an embossed image of the sole plate in a prominent spot sends just the message I want to convey for the next family gathering -30-
More after the jump.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Ponderous Trophy

Once the cast iron phase fizzled out, I and my loved ones began to appreciate furnishings I could manipulate single-handed. There are a couple of behemoths left in the collection, but most of the inventory is a relief both to the back and to the eye. In his benchmark Nomadic Furniture, Victor Papanek advises husbanding one piece of heirloom furniture and getting real with the rest of the collection. 

Interestingly, many of the concepts in Papanek's inventory have been improved upon by changes in technology. The basics are the same, but they're slimmer, lighter, more versatile, and far easier to acquire. The professional photographer's truss system still tempts me beyond reason. Anything designed for a road show is good value. 


Papanek was a globe-trotting design expert for the UN. Like interior designer Diana Phipps, he improvised comfortable quarters in places that on first inspection looked far from ideal -30-

More after the jump.