My week went rather spectacularly off the rails this past week. I had seen an antique mall out in the further ‘burbs of Memphis voted as the best one in our weekly newspaper’s annual Best of Memphis, and since I happened to be driving past on an unusual errand to that part of the world, I decided to stop in. It’s enormous. The size of a Wal-Mart. And I turned one corner and saw this. I’m always watching out for type in antique shops and flea markets, but I’ve never found any in this quantity before, and the cabinet itself, with its slanted work space, is lovely. In a mad impulse, I bought it and whatever type it contained.
Sadly antique stores tend to sell off letters individually, which makes the remaining type less usable, since you can’t have enough “m”s or whatever is the popular letter when you try to set a poem or a poster or whatever. But with 40 or so drawers of it, there’s still an awful lot left, and my next job will be sorting it and seeing how much and what I have. Some fonts look very intact, some are quite picked over.
After the impulsive purchase, the rest of the week was consumed by logistics (which is why I haven’t been posting any art). It’s heavy enough that the floor needed to be reinforced. I’d reinforced it once for this press some years ago, but more was in order. Fortunately I happened to have a handy and generous house guest, so we both slithered around in fine southern dust in my crawl space for a couple of afternoons dragging cement blocks and large timbers to reinforce the joists under the press room.
Some equally generous neighbors helped me move it and shove over the press to make room for it (harder than moving the actual cabinet, since we removed all the type drawers first).
So that was four good days, and on Sunday I had the amazing good fortune to get to play bass at a gig with the Bluff City Backsliders, a band I’ve loved and followed for years. (For longtime readers of this blog, you’ve seen sketches of them in years past.) That was a total rush, and it was a marvelous way to cap off my week. I couldn’t be more lucky in the life I get to live.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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