Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My New Old Sewing Machine

Do you have something in your home you hold onto that takes up precious space and may be infrequently used, but when you need it, you are so grateful that it is exactly where you stashed it, if only you could remember where?

Although I may go several months without using my little old sewing machine, I do need it on occasion. So I pull it out, dust if off, drag it over to the dining room table and in seconds I'm threaded and readying the speed controller underfoot. This system worked smoothly until one fateful Sunday afternoon in early December when I was putting the finishing stitches on a simple linen towel project.

The whirring sound of my almost completed gift uttered a grinding, crunching sound. I shook my head in slight disbelief that my reliable Touch and Sew, circa 1968, stopped without my provocation. I checked the thread was unbroken, peeked into the bobbin case for a jam, manually turned the hand wheel and it still wouldn't budge. Not exactly knowing what to do, I lifted all the irrelevant panels and hinged doors to notice absolutely nothing wrong. I tried turning off the power as if to re-boot and make this bad dream go away, but the jam remained.

Disgusted at my mechanical ignorance, I called the local sewing and craft shop. "Sorry dear, we don't do repairs on antique sewing machines here." I called my local home fabric source. "Sorry dear, we don't deal with that here. We have our own workshops to do all the sewing for us."

I sat back down, steeled myself, selected a fine looking shiny needle from my pin cushion, threaded it and started to create my own tiny row of stitches. I felt like I had traveled back in time to the days before electric sewing machines or to the prairie of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I have looked at new machines, I looked at old machines, I waited patiently for the right solution. This weekend I bought a Singer 522 Stylist for all the wrong reasons. I needed a working machine. I liked the built-in table. THC said he needed something mended. I have a soft spot in my heart for old Singer machines.

It looks great. It seems to run well. But it's a little tricky without a manual. Oh dear, being green is sometimes a steep learning curve.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Groovy Style

Big, bold and beautiful in purple rings good morning 1975 from Westclox.

Groovy girl gift boxes from the late 1960s deserve a revival of some sort.

Transparency's the key for this acrylic chair, maker unknown, made in Brazil, circa 1970.

Pink, orange, and yellow define this room from Family Circle's Do It Yourself Encyclopedia, 1973.

Great 70s product design for the Uncola - crisp, refreshing 7up.

Milton Bradley was up to speed with its paper dolls, circa 1967.

Very mod Op shades from Argentina, mid 1960s.

For more details on these selections, just click on the images. Thanks for following 973's Groovy Week and our celebration of little known, but undeniably groovy designs.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Go Go Be Groovy

With Go Go boots this fabulous looking, it's hard to pick which retro color is my fave.

Why not wear two contrasting patterns like stripes and dots together?

Now for the men, nothing says 1971 like a hand-knit belted sweater.

For the man seeking comfort in his dressed up threads, 1975 remains the heyday of the leisure suit sans wide lapel, cuffed sleeves and bell bottoms.

For more information on the groovy week selections above, simply click on the images.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Groovy Designs

Looking around for some inspiring groovy images brought me to groovy fabrics. I love the now-vintage fabrics of the late 60s and 70s. Textile designers today are introducing some of these bold patterns, imagery and colors in new collections, which are easier to find than the originals. I happened upon the groovy guitar pattern and was immediately drawn to it. It comes from Michael Miller Fabrics, started in 1999 by Michael Steiner and Kathy Miller.

The groovy element continues in these MMF swatches.

For more info on groovy fabrics, just click on the images.

For more inspirations, check back during 973's Groovy Design Week.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Groovy, Baby

I can't help but say "oh, groovy" each time I uncover this puzzle from the depths of my storage room. I am more tolerant of it now than when it was donated to me years ago from an older friend with a child born in the 70s. It was crafted and stamped Child's Play from Asheville, NC. I have a little trouble envisioning it as a toy that parents would embrace today for a young child. However, for an older child or adult of any age who is interested in retro fonts and lettering, it's a thoughtful re-gift.

Speaking of groovy fonts, here are a few I recently found at dafont.com:

Do you have a font or object that evokes groovy? Then by all means, please send it along to 973Third@gmail.com or leave a comment here.

We'd love to hear from you, baby!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Canopy of Glass

Over a decade ago, I once sat in a beautiful courtyard in downtown Washington DC. The grassy courtyard had lots of trees and park furniture and paths leading to the entrances of the museum buildings around it on all four sides. Now the courtyard of the Old Patent Office Building has been made more beautiful still and transformed into a delightful new public space with a few improvements, most notably a glass canopy.

The Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard of the Reynolds Center of the Smithsonian Institution may be more familiarly known as the short-cut between the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The museum complex is housed in a fine 19th century Greek revival structure, a National Historic Landmark, begun in 1836 under architect Robert Mills and completed in 1867 as one of the city's first public buildings.

In its history, the courtyard was also the site of President Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural ball in 1865. The glass and steel canopy was designed by Foster + Partners. "Given the importance of the Old Patent Office, the design was wholly driven by a deep respect for the existing building," Sir Norman Foster said. "It was decided that it should not touch the building at any point but instead float above it like a cloud over the courtyard." The curved glass top, supported by 8 unobtrusive columns, fills the space with light and a feeling of weightlessness as you walk through the 2,800 square foot space watching the shapes of the grid work above appear to undulate.

Landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson contributed to the interior of the space, with the selection of large trees and shrubs and the inviting seating, which are really planters carved of marble. She also designed four very shallow pools of water, adding great drama to the courtyard. Her signature water scrims seem to disappear into the stone floor when not in use.

The space is a remarkable example of history and modern architecture in harmony for the increased usability of the space. And the fabulous result is a place worth visiting and lingering.

Top photo courtesy of David Y. Lee and The New York Times
Bottom photo courtesy of Tim Hursley and the Smithsonian Institution

Lunch is available daily in the Courtyard Cafe 11:30 to 4.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Universal Messaging

International images we recognize have moved far beyond the well known signs for the ladies' or men's room. But still there is something charming in the simple design prototype of the single color graphic in a square with rounded corners. No matter how many languages you speak, or can read, these wordless signs are fun. Maybe they are visual puns or just clues, but they entertain us and convey a message for our benefit.

I recently found several sheets of sticky labels leftover from a Moleskine planner journal. The graphic images are so delightful for their unique representations of everyday life. They reminded me of the old familiar signs, but were deservedly more universal in their message. Maybe the world is getting smaller after all.