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Mountain maker: Snoqualmie artist Todd Gamble’s creativity can be seen in RR Days poster, map
It starts with sheets of house insulation, steel wool and toothpicks. But give Todd Gamble some paint, glue and a carving knife, and in a few hours, he transforms the materials into a mock-up of a rugged Northwest landscape, ready for a model train to roll past.
Creating small, fun, beautiful things, straight from history or imagination is what Gamble does best. The Snoqualmie resident is the quietly creative mind behind a lot of projects in the Valley. You can find his handiwork in the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum’s magazine, in regional model train sets, international board games, and, for the last few years, in the posters and maps that promote Snoqualmie Railroad Days.
Gamble puts his hands toward any project that catches his interest—model building, graphics for game materials, maps for role-playing gamers, silk screens, terrain, murals.
“I’ve always got a new fuse to light,” says Gamble.
His biggest job right now is helping build a huge model railroad for a Medina, Wash., man. For Gamble, it’s a dream project.
“I’ve always wanted a job where I can think and enjoy what I’m doing,” Gamble said.
Gamble volunteered his time for the last two years, helping Sue Van Gerpen of the Northwest Railway Museum, Railroad Days organizer, free of charge. This year, he agreed to be paid a small stipend for his work, which references Americana with its red, white, blue and gold colors.
The posters’ all-American, small-town feel was always what he loved about Railroad Days.
“You still see kids being pulled around in wagons, bicycles in parades—fun stuff.”
Something about the legacy of the rails captures Gamble’s imagination.
“I love history and the era of the late 1800s, early 1900s,” he says. “Steam was still pretty cool and new. All the resources were still in place. The forests must have been beautiful.”
He still goes up into the mountains, snapping photos of ancient trees for photo references.
East of the mountains, the rugged evergreens and deserts also catch his eyes.
“I love open landscapes,” Gamble says.
For Gamble, it’s hard not to give of himself, helping local merchants and organizations.
“Somebody should always be there to help the community,” he says. “I’m in a place to do that. I’m glad to do anything for my community.”
Gamble has lived in Snoqualmie for 12 years, and is married to wife Cathy.
You can learn about his amazing creations at www.toddgambleart.com.