Allan and Frances Peterson, a woodworker and artist respectively, stand in the door of the old horse stall they turned into Milkwood on Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Allan and Frances Peterson, a woodworker and artist respectively, stand in the door of the old horse stall they turned into Milkwood on Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Old horse stall in Index is mini art gallery in the boonies

Frances and Allan Peterson showcase their art. And where else you can buy a souvenir Index pillow or dish towel?

INDEX — Frances and Allan Peterson didn’t downsize, they rightsized.

The artist couple, both 62, relocated Milkwood, their gallery of furniture and fabric designs, from a large storefront on Main Street in Monroe to a former storage shed/horse stall in Index.

“You rightsize to what your activities are. That’s what they call it now instead of downsizing,” Frances said. “We wanted it to be upscale out in the sticks.”

Upscale in a stable?

Milkwood is on the grounds of the historic Bush House Inn at 308 5th St. The outbuilding was most recently “Ellie & Clarence,” a shop with jewelry and art, including items by Frances.

It sat empty for several years before the Petersons leased the space. They repainted and remodeled.

Frances Peterson leans in the doorway of Milkwood on Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Frances Peterson leans in the doorway of Milkwood on Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

“We wanted it to look like a gallery, a gallery in the boonies,” Frances said.

Boonies is right. The riverside hamlet in the shadow of Mount Index has a population of about 155.

Frances said she was told the shed structure was once upon a time used by a sheriff for his horse.

“When you look at the building from the outside, people go, ‘That’s pretty small. What could possibly be in there?’” Allan said. “People walk in here and go, ‘Huh, I didn’t expect this.’ People come in from all over the world.”

Their goal: “High end stuff for everyday people,” he said.

The name Milkwood comes from a 1954 radio drama by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, “Under Milk Wood,” about the thoughts and dreams of inhabitants of a fictional seaside village.

The couple’s studios are in their home, two blocks away from Milkwood.

Allan Peterson holds up a work-in-progress door to a wine cabinet he’s working on on Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Allan Peterson holds up a work-in-progress door to a wine cabinet he’s working on on Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Frances said their creations are “utilitarian yet expressive.”

Allan makes benches, liquor cabinets and ladder shelves, what he calls “art furniture.”

“I want it to spark an emotion. I want people to get feelings for it,” he said.

The bench, for instance. He wants it to retain an awe for buyers.

”What’s really important is that I want them to look at it two, three, six, 12 months down the road walking by it and go, ‘That’s pretty cool,’” he said.

Woodworker George Nakashima is an inspiration for Allan.

“His philosophy was that a piece of wood should have the respect of the tree,” he said. “When it’s in the ground it has its first life. When it comes to me as a slab or lumber it is my respect of the tree to give it a second life.”

Frances creates fabric art under the brand Edie Everette, a name she used as her cartoon alter ego with blue hair.

Artist Frances Peterson cracks a smile while showing off a bag of her design at Milkwood on Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Artist Frances Peterson cracks a smile while showing off a bag of her design at Milkwood on Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

“About 20 years ago, I started doing cartoons about being in art school and being an artist,” she said. “It is recognizable.”

She also uses Edie Everette as her pen name for publications, including several essays in The Daily Herald.

The Edie Everette wear line includes shoulder bags, hoodies, hats and girls dresses. She makes Index pillows and dish towels with a Sky Valley roadtrip design.

A cloth bag has a photograph of her childhood Raggedy Ann. Another has french fries on the fabric montage.

“You can tell stories with them,” she said. “They are funky yet eloquent. How many other places can you put french fries and sequins together?”

Multiple bags, including one titled “How Mooo-ving” are displayed on a wall at Milkwood on Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Multiple bags, including one titled “How Mooo-ving” are displayed on a wall at Milkwood on Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Allan worked in music licensing, publishing and the grocery industry.

“I kind of bounced around,” he said.

The couple moved from Seattle to Index 10 years ago.

“That’s when I decided to become a furniture builder,” Allan said. “I started looking at YouTube videos and reading books and this is where I’m at now.”

Milkwood has quarterly themes. “Oubaitori” (pronounced oh-buy-toe-ree), a Japanese concept of being unique and blossoming in your own time, runs through May.

The gallery also features ceramics, soaps and souvenirs by local makers.

Hours for Milkwood are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

More at milkwoodindex.com.

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

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