25 December 2012

A vintage little Christmas

I'm sure with all of my obsessing over typewriters, you would imagine my Christmas list to look something like this:

Sadly, it's actually much more like this:

I am a 26-year old woman, it is 2012, and, yes, I really want a good vacuum cleaner for Christmas this year. Thanks, Santa.

18 December 2012

There and back again: a type-in tale

One of our pretty display tables before the wild rumpus started.
No, I have not been out to see the new movie adaptation of The Hobbit yet. I have been busy recovering from my own adventure. Did I tell you about it? Maybe you read about it all on Scribbling Glue or the Literary House blog. Thread Lock Press's first-ever event, a collaboration with Annie of Scribbling Glue, called "Type-In Type-Out": Chestertown's first type-in and letter-writing social, finally happened! If you were unlucky enough to have missed this crazy night, let me share some of it with you now.

Hannelore is ready to party. And she brought stationery.
After months of preparation, the big day arrived and we were ready. Annie and I showed up at Evergrain Bread Company at 4:00pm--our cars full to overflowing with typewriters, mailart supplies, typewriter and letter-writing ephemera, books about typewriters and famous correspondences and mailart, custom letterpress type-in stationery, and everything else we could think of--to begin setting up for the big event. It took us a little maneuvering to settle in to our space, but the helpful people at the bakery were ready to oblige and assist us however we needed. At about quarter to five, we had finished arranging (and rearranging) and were breathing deep, nervous sighs waiting for 5:00pm. Very soon, our first (intentional!) participants arrived and wasted no time sitting down at their stations to commune with their chosen machines.

Doug and Dave talk typewriters over an Evergrain cappuccino.
To start off, there were four typewriters: my girls Hildegard (Remington Rand), Hermione (Royal Futura), Hannelore (Olympia SM9 De Luxe), and Heloise (Underwood, older model). Then some new typewriters started arriving with their owners: Joan brought her Smith Corona Galaxie, Joe his Sears Achiever, Judi her Royal Quiet DeLuxe, Jehanne and Jeremy their Smith Corona Super named Pedasos, and Sofia her Royal Safari. One of the best parts was that everyone was willing to share their typewriters, let perfect strangers have a go on their beautiful machines. At the end of the night, there were nine different typewriters in action around this table and excited typists rotating in and out of the seats, some anxiously awaiting their turn at the keys.

The party in full-swing.
Don't think all of the action was at the typewriter table, though. Once finished typing their letter or poem or whatever else they wanted to type, participants made their way over to the mailart table with Annie where they could embellish their ephemera to their heart's content. People even got to make their own envelopes out of pages recycled from discarded children's books, among other things. Annie also created helpful worksheets regarding postal FAQs and things you need to know about sending your one-of-a-kind epistolary artwork out into the wide world via letter-carrier. 

Annie's tidy mailart table before all the hubbub began.
Are you familiar with Chronicle Books' Griffin and Sabine trilogy? THAT is mailart. Those are just a few of the books we brought along for people to look at while getting their feet wet. I also made sure to bring Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell (the book that first inspired me to go get a typewriter) and Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey & Peter F. Neumeyer (a book of literary correspondence, envelope art, and typewritten letters, of course!) I highly recommend them all. A friend even asked to borrow Floating Worlds after seeing it at this event.

Some of my favorite books chronicling famous and fictional correspondences.
Although we lost count during all of the busyness, we estimate that at least 75 people came out to our event, which far exceeded my expectations. One thing I failed to anticipate with this much use was how quickly brand-new ink ribbons would reach the end of their spools! I rewound at least four ink ribbons during the evening to get more life out of them--there is always plenty of ink left for another round of typing when the ribbon runs out, I've found. And of course, the typewriters did not work perfectly the entire time. There were many, many times I had to rush to the aid of a stumped typist who couldn't figure out why the carriage suddenly stopped advancing or the entire keyboard locked and refused to reach the platen. Most of the time I could fix the problem, but being only a practiced amateur myself, it would take me a minute or two to remember how I had overcome that problem at home before. "Margin release" was a revelation for many new to the typewriting scene, as was the lack of a delete key (although Annie is brilliant and remembered to bring a bottle of white-out!).

Annie (Scribbling Glue), Doug (owner of Evergrain), and me.
Thank you to everyone for such a lovely and memorable evening. Annie and I hope to take this program on the road in the near future. If anyone out there is interested in bringing us out, let me know! We do love a good adventure. But for now, we'll do our best to bask in the glory of the holidays and a job well done.

11 December 2012

A History in Six Couplets

Another fabulous perk of my new job? Getting to assist in designing (and even printing) the famous Literary House Press letterpress-printed broadsides commemorating visiting writers. Last Tuesday, December 4, the lovely poet and translator Idra Novey came to give a poetry reading at the Lit House as part of our Jewish Voices series. Her most recent poetry collection is Exit, Civilian (2012). We chose to create a broadside of her poem "A History in Six Couplets" from her book The Next Country (2008). 

For her broadside, I was hands-on in the design process. How hands-on? I got to carve the linoleum block of this broken city skyline! To say, I love my job, seems an understatement at this point.

For more details about the process (and a few pictures by my wonderful co-worker, Owen Bailey), here's a post I wrote for the Lit House blog: "Behind the Scenes: Creating a Lit House Press broadside."

04 December 2012

Type-In Type-Out: Chestertown's first type-in & letter-writing social

Smith Corona portable electric typewriter ad
It's finally here! In just three days, Annie and I will be throwing our big party and you are all invited. 

Presenting . . .

Chestertown's first type-in
& letter-writing social

First Friday,
7 December 2012

 Evergrain Bread Company
201-203 High Street
Chestertown, Maryland

A flock of typewriters (Hildegard, Hermione, Hannelore, and Heloise) will be on hand and open for use. Anyone who owns a typewriter is warmly invited to bring it along to this social typing event.

Letterpress-printed stationery created especially for this event will be provided, as well as envelopes and mailart supplies.

Bring your curiosity and be ready to laugh. Make art, play with words, meet people, and enjoy. Walk away with a renewed sense of community and connection, as well as typewritten and handmade creations. 

So, if all of that was not convincing enough, "it's the in thing" according to this vintage Smith Corona advertisement for portable electric typewriters. See you there!

Presented by Thread Lock Press and Scribbling Glue.