The Typewriter at 1888.center

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It has been two years since The Typewriter: A Graphic History of the Beloved Machine was released into the world. It feels so very long ago! But when I think of all the books and magazines I've released in those months... 8 issues of UPPERCASE, plus Feed Sacks, Stitch*illo and Botanica... it is safe to say I've kept myself busy since then.

It was a book I felt compelled to create—not only from a personal interest in typewriters and, in particular, their associated memorabilia and ephemera—but because there wasn't yet a book that chronicled this graphic history of typewriters. Since 2015, there have been a number of typewriter-related books released, each with their own perspectives. There's also a new film called California Typewriter by Doug Nichol (currently playing at Toronto's Hot Docs) that features famed typewriter collector Tom Hanks, among others. (Although the director originally contacted me about being part of his film, his project took a different direction. Alas, I missed my one-and-only chance to be in a movie with Tom Hanks!)

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So even if my brush with Hanks and Hollywood didn't come to pass, there's a bit of my typewriter project living on in the vicinity: a selection of my vintage ads is currently on display at 1888.center, a creative community writing space, coffeehouse and bookshop in Orange, California.

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I'm happy to say that my book is still very unique its direction and the quality of its graphic design and production. And since the subject matter is already out-of-date, the ephemera collected within the book only get older and more interesting. (Like the rest of us, one hopes!)

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The exhibition is up through November. I was also interviewed by Jon-Barrett Ingels for the center's podcast: The How, The Why. Click here to listen as we chat typewriters and publishing, two things that go very well together!

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The Typewriter can be purchased in person at 1888.center, via my webshop if you're in North America and for folks overseas, it is available through Central Books. It makes a wonderful gift for writers, typewriter lovers and design history enthusiasts!

 Photo by The Paper Trail Diary. Read their review of the book  here .

Photo by The Paper Trail Diary. Read their review of the book here.

International Typewriter Day!

June 23 is International Typewriter Day, marking this day in 1868 that the patent was granted to Christopher Latham Sholes. 

Here's an excerpt from The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine:

 Christopher Latham Sholes

Christopher Latham Sholes

The Father of the Typewriter

The notion of a machine to replace handwriting had been toyed with for centuries. English engineer Henry Mill patented the concept in 1714 as “an artificial machine or method for impressing or transcribing of letters, one after another, as in writing, whereby all writing whatsoever may be engrossed in paper or parchment so neat and exact as not to be distinguished from print.”

Though there is a long list of inventors preceding him, Christopher Latham Sholes is the man history has awarded the winning title of inventor of the typewriter, patented on June 23, 1868. His machine was the first to be commercially successful and from it all other modern typewriters evolved.

“I do feel that I have done something for the women who have always had to work so hard. This will enable them more easily to earn a living.”

–CHRISTOPHER LATHAM SHOLES

To read more about The Typewriter: A Graphic History of the Beloved Machine please visit the book's website.

Make a Fabric Cover for your Typewriter (or sewing machine)

So anyone who knows me (or UPPERCASE) knows my fondness for typewriters. I call them the UPPERCASE mascots. So it was natural that I come up with some sort of typewriter and fabric project!

In fact, there's already a connection. If you look at the colours of my Royal Quiet DeLuxes and my fabric collection, they share a similar colour palette.

I decided to make a dust cover for a typewriter. You could quite easily adapt this process to make a cover for your sewing machine. 

Please keep in mind that I'm not a DIY blogger or writer of craft instructions (nor do I plan on becoming either—I've got way too much to do already!) When it comes to sewing and making crafts, my usual process is to look at a lot of similar projects and read their instructions. Then I put that all aside, head over to my own project and available materials... and wing it!

Knowing that my fabric projects would be shared online, I took photos along the way. Keep in mind that I was figuring it out as I went along. And when things got complicated I sometimes forgot to take photos since I was concentrating or busy being frustrated.

Here's my rudimentary sketch of what I planned to make. Two sides with interfacing to make them sturdy, and, in a contrasting colour, piping to define the edges.

I selecting my fabric to coordinate with my favourite turquoise Royal. I had already made bias tape for a previous project and decided to use the extra to cover the piping.

I put some kraft paper on my table and loosely traced the typewriter on its side, leaving generous amount of room for the keys and knobs.

Next, I refined the curves and overall shape and added some extra allowance so that cover wouldn't be too snug.

I cut my template and then two pieces out of fusible, fairly stiff interfacing.

I used the outline to determine the length of piping I'd need. Using a basting stitch, I covered the piping with my bias tape.

I cut the shape out of the fabric half an inch around the interfacing plus an inch or two extra at the base.

I measured the desired width of fabric needed to cover the machine. For its length, I used the piping as a guide for how much would be required. In both cases, I added some generous amounts on either end to allow for hems and just in case. (Remember, I was making this up as I went along!) I also fused more interfacing to the front panel to give it some shape.

Next, I sewed one side, piping and top together. This involved a lot of pinning. I've only used piping once before about ten years ago, so I didn't exactly know what I was doing. The curves were difficult! But I just pinned it as precisely as possible and then sewed it slowly to avoid any puckers. Then did side two. The inside's not pretty, but you don't have to see that when the cover is on the machine! (Besides, I was sewing this for the Windham Look Book, so some selective photography and cropping could solve any glaring problems.)

Once the sides were both attached, I put the cover on the machine and folded up the hem as required and stitched it. With some steaming and ironing, the cover turned out ok. It looked a little plain, so I decided to dress it up a bit. I've had this plastic turquoise buckle for some time, so it seemed of the right era to suit a typewriter cover.

And with the bow... voila!

If I were to make another cover (I've got a dozen typewriters!), I might omit the piping and just make a fabric flange or something a little simpler—but I do like that contrasting pop of colour!

The top two photos and finished project photos are by Kirstie Tweed of Orange Girl for the UPPERCASE collection Look Book. Process photos taken with my iPhone.

Free shipping on The Typewriter this weekend!

The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine has received fine reviews in both the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star this weekend!  

As an independent publisher, it's exciting to see a relatively small project (and labour of love!) like this recognized in mainstream media. The drawback is that it is not so easy to get independently published books in bookstores! So if you've read the article and are new to UPPERCASE, here are the stores that carry The Typewriter. I've also got FREE SHIPPING on this book until Monday, wherever you may be in North America. (If you're outside of North America, contact Central Books in London to get your copy.)

CANADA

Vancouver Art Gallery Store, Vancouver, BC
Paper Ya, Vancouver, BC
Stepback, Vancouver, BC

Shelf Life Books, Calgary, AB
Owl's Nest Books, Calgary, AB
Gingko & Ink Atelier, Banff, AB

Soul Paper, Saskatoon, SK
Paper Umbrella, Regina, SK

Tiny Feast, Winnipeg, MB

Curiosity House Books, Creemore, ON
Mixed Media, Hamilton, ON

Inkwell Boutique, Halifax, NS
 

USA

Land / BuyOlympia.com, Portland, OR
Noun, Portland, OR
Reading Frenzy, Portland, OR

Hennessey + Ingalls, Los Angeles, CA
Seaside Paper, Coronado, CA

Moxy Modern Mercantile, Little Rock, AR

New store for paper and typewriter-lovers: The Paper Seahorse

I'd like to introduce you to The Paper Seahorse, a new shop in Tampa, Florida, that is celebrating their grand opening this Saturday. Proprietor Tona Bell has been a very loyal subscriber for a long time and I had the opportunity to meet her a few years back. 

Tona writes, "We are a Southern Paperie + Makerie. We love all things writing and keeping in touch.  Stationery and writing implements, pens, pencils, typewriter, notebooks and such.  We love letterpress, custom and handmade invitations. To celebrate the creative spirit there all sorts of creative classes and workshops….writing, art, crafts, jewelry, sewing, creative business and making! We offer creative parties and special events. We are home to Tampa Type, the largest collection of manual typewriters for sale in the South."

Put a typewriter on it, Portland.

I'm on my way to Portland later this week and I'd love to see you at some UPPERCASE events this Saturday, October 10 and Sunday, October 11. 

First up is the Typewriter Jam at the Independent Publishing Resource Centre from 4-8pm. See lots of beautiful machines, explore some artifacts, type some letters and connect with fellow collectors at this free event. I'll be there with The Typewriter book for sale. If you are planning on purchasing a book in person, let me know and I'll bring a special vintage ad just for you! I'll have other goodies for UPPERCASE readers, too, whatever fits in my suitcase... which I have yet to pack.

Then, at 7-9pm at the same venue, the IPRC and I are hosting an UPPERCASE party. There's a brand-new issue to celebrate, a chance to pull your own letterpress print, food and drink... and I encourage you to bring your portfolio or crafts or other creative endeavours that you'd like to share with me and fellow readers. I love seeing what people are making and doing! You could be featured in a future issue.

On Sunday at 7pm at Shattuck Hall, I'll be doing a presentation about The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine. Tickets are $10, available here. If you're planning on getting a book on Sunday, if you can let me know in advance, I'll make sure to reserve one for you along with a vintage ad. 

Have a good week and I hope to see you this weekend!

The Keys to Success

A 40-page pocket guide to etiquette aimed at young women was published by Olympia Typewriters in 1963. Prepared by Ingenue magazine editors, the booklet advises that one’s popularity and success in dating hinges upon typewriting skill and etiquette.

“The keys to success are right at your fingertips when you have a typewriter at hand. Yes, those forty-four glistening keys are steps that can lead you into a big, new exciting world! They can help you dazzle the boy who lives down the block or make a friend whose home is ten thousand miles away. They can help you move upwards in your class at school and place you on the first rung of the career ladder!”

Not to be forgotten, there’s also advice for the guys, acknowledging the stereotype that typing is for girls: “Young men, please, don’t get the idea that we think typewriters are only for the girls. Nothing could be further from the truth! Boys can and should be as comfortable at the keys as girls. In fact, nowadays they must be.”

When it comes to writing a letter to one’s sweetheart, the booklet advises the male suitor, “Don’t overpower her with too clinical a description of your emotions. It will frighten and embarrass her.”

This excerpt is from The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine. Ready to ship now!

You're invited to The Typewriter book launch!

BOOK LAUNCH

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
4-8 PM, UPPERCASE STUDIO
CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA

UPPERCASE
Devenish Building
Suite 201b 908 17 AVE SW
above Ethos Bridal, second level, end of the east hall 

Please join me in celebrating the completion of the book! 

I'll be presenting the "Royal Typewriter Museum" in the space and some of the hundreds of ephemera and artifacts that I've collected over the years will be on display. There will be machines to type on—you can bring your own machine, too, and show it off!—plus activities and refreshments in this family-friendly celebration.

Please RSVP here. If you're not in Calgary, The Typewriter book can be purchased online and is shipping now!

Secretary of War

On the occasion of Remembrance Day, as we think about the heartbreak and sacrifice of war, these typewriter ads from the 1940s offer an interesting perspective on how even typical business was affected—and the significant impact the war had on women in the workplace.

 Uncle Sam wants every typewriter you can spare.

Uncle Sam wants every typewriter you can spare.

 Limited wartime typewriter production.

Limited wartime typewriter production.

 Twice-welcome is the girl who brings with her not only the will to serve, but the skill to save precious hours of working time.

Twice-welcome is the girl who brings with her not only the will to serve, but the skill to save precious hours of working time.

 Any job a woman takes which releases a man is a war job.

Any job a woman takes which releases a man is a war job.

 Here's to the girl doing one grand job... your own private "secretary of war."

Here's to the girl doing one grand job... your own private "secretary of war."

 To the Girl he left behind him... these are lonesome, waiting days for you. The telephone is strangely silent. No door bell rings. Across a thousand, thousand miles of straining heartstrings, his hand rests on your shoulder.  "Keep your chin up," he seems to say. "I'll be back for you."

To the Girl he left behind him... these are lonesome, waiting days for you. The telephone is strangely silent. No door bell rings. Across a thousand, thousand miles of straining heartstrings, his hand rests on your shoulder.

"Keep your chin up," he seems to say. "I'll be back for you."

These ads are from my personal collection and are part of The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine.

International Typewriter Day: book cover reveal!

On this special day, I am happy to finally reveal the cover of The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine. It's International Typewriter Day, commemorating this day in 1868 that Christopher Latham Sholes was granted a patent for his invention. 

When I embarked on this project two years ago, I had no idea that the book would take so long to make. Epic floods, moving offices, personnel changes, working on the magazine and so on... there have been many obstacles. During that time, typewriters have only gotten older and more interesting! (And my collection of artifacts and vintage ads has grown considerably.)

The book will be heading to print in late summer. Please preorder yours in the shop. Thanks!

Typewriter Notes

Typewriter Notes is a box set of 20 different cards capturing the timeless appeal of the typewriter. Published by Chronicle Books, I curated and designed the set. It features photographs by UPPERCASE readers. The cover photo is by Jane Bernstein.

In addition to a few of my own photos, there are photographs by Brianne Walk, Andrea Corrona Jenkins, Cari Wayman, Celina Wyss, Cori Kindred, Denise Regan, Jane Bernstein, Joanna Brown, Sarah Book, Shelley Davies, Svenja Schulte-Dahmen, Tracey Ayton and Vanessa Pham.

Thank you to Caitlin and Kristen at Chronicle Books for being so lovely to work with!

Sets can be purchased in our online shop along with Shoegazing Notecards, a previous collaboration with Chronicle. Thanks!

The Typewriter: update

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As you might have read on the project page, the release of The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine was delayed by some trying and time-consuming events this year — moving the studio and the big Calgary flood being some major unforeseeable circumstances that seriously infringed on my time. I am happy to say that the book is on track for release in early 2014. I will be posting regular updates in the new year here on the blog and on the project page.

In the past year, my collection of interesting and visually inspiring typewriter-related advertisements, ephemera and memorabilia has grown. (Thank you to some intrepid interns who helped scan over 500 items!) I also have met with some typewriter experts such as collector Martin Howard who will be providing some images for the book, Berkeley Typewriter, the proprietor of Canada's oldest business machines and some other fine collectors. It is nice to know that appreciation for the typewriter remains strong!

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button tree decorations

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It is that time of year when I bring out my typewriter Christmas tree! Finley was spending the afternoon at the office, so I let him do the honours of unfolding the tree.

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I didn't have any decorations for it—normally its tinsel branches and strange typewriter base are enough for me—but Finley thought it needed something more...

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Lucky for us, I have no shortage of creative odds and ends... like a jarful of vintage buttons. These are the leftovers from assembling the goodies that come with the Dottie Angel book we published a few years ago (by the way, there are just a few copies left in the shop). Since all these buttons have shanks, we couldn't include them in the flat goodie envelopes that come with each book.

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Also on hand? Some handy waxed thread from the Maine Thread Company—we profiled them in issue #16 earlier this year.

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Finley and I proceeded to string multiple buttons onto lengths of the thread and I tied them into a loop.

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I also made a string garland of buttons by knotting the shank of the buttons at even intervals on a 6-foot length of string. The waxed thread worked really well since nothing slips out of position.

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This was a fun! And super easy. The best kind of spur-of-the-moment creative activity.

the Martin Howard collection of antique typewriters

 Martin Howard and his collection of early typewriters.

Martin Howard and his collection of early typewriters.

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 Martin's display of typewriter tins above the workstation where he cleans and repairs his machines. 

Martin's display of typewriter tins above the workstation where he cleans and repairs his machines. 

 In addition to machines, Martin has an extensive collection of artifacts, like this advertisement for the Crandall Typewriter. 

In addition to machines, Martin has an extensive collection of artifacts, like this advertisement for the Crandall Typewriter. 

 A gorgeous Crandall from 1886.

A gorgeous Crandall from 1886.

During my trip to Toronto, I was fortunate to visit Martin Howard and his beautiful collection of early typewriters. His website offers clear and detailed photographs of his collection and is certainly the best site and photographs that I have come across. I am pleased that Martin will be sharing some of his images in The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine.

I had not previously had the opportunity to see these early typewriters up close, let alone to see how they work.  Martin graciously demonstrates two models, a Standard Folding and a Mignon 2, in the videos below.

A note on the photographs The photos above are ones that I took during our visit. Martin and I both kindly request that respect be given to our images and ask that proper credit is given if you use any of these images on your blog or post them to Pinterest or elsewhere. Personally, I have come across many unauthorized uses of my typewriter photographs for blog headers and commercial purposes. We invest a lot of effort into preparing the machines, lighting, equipment, etc and photographs of the machines are copyrighted to the photographers. Just because it is a picture of something old, the photographs themselves are not "public domain". thank you.