My contribution to Margin Releases

A few years ago, I started making a piece of typewriter art. I am so grateful to the editors of the final edition of Cold Hard Type for selecting that work for inclusion in Margin Releases. It feels like the perfect place for the artwork after years of not being able to decide how to get the pieces out into the world.

I don’t want to give too much away, because I hope that people will buy the book and enjoy all the contributions fresh, with no big spoilers.

And so I will just share some photos of the machine I used to make the artworks.

The machine itself became part of the artwork.
The week I acquired this machine, I received the results of my dna ancestry test. The results, showing that I have European Jewish ancestry contributed to my desire to make the artwork.

Little blue 22

A week of cleaning and tinkering. This one stank to high heaven, as the Letteras often do. I scrubbed the case inside and out. Its case linings had come loose so this made cleaning easier and also revealed the flimsy nature of these soft cases: the linings are merely cardboard and cloth. I used stain remover made into a paste and applied with a toothbrush in small sections, allowing each cleaned part to dry off in the sun. I was worried the cardboard would disintegrate! I fixed the linings back into place with strong wood glue. Irene’s name sticker also gave me worries but actually it just peeled off easily, and the remaining gummy parts cleaned off with washing up liquid. The felt inside the base of the machine was treated to anti-bac foot spray, which neutralises the deep aroma coming from inside the typewriter.

Cleaned up and ready to go to its new home. I polished everything with Renaissance wax to finish off. The scuff on the space bar was fixed with clear lacquer.
Not forgetting the original dust cover! This also needed a careful laundering with mild shampoo. Left to dry out in the shade.

Phew!

What have we here?
Upcycle Project?!
That’s better! I gave the person at the till a quick tutorial on how to unlock the carriage and raise the return lever. Never mind about the strange word for ribbon! They were very happy to discover they had a functional machine to sell.

In which we learn from our mistakes and have some fun

This is my sled-made magnetic chess set. There’s no end to the lengths to which I will procrastinate sometimes. However it is a very useful learning tool. I can type and ponder my London opening at the same time without sending pieces flying with every carriage return.
Everyone should have this!
Well that wasn’t hard, thanks to the Repair Bible! This is the spares machine with its own original washer wedged in place between the platen and carriage hub. My machine had been fitted with a different kind of washer, of incorrect depth and diameter. The washer I found must have been dropped into the case by the mechanic… I took this nice washer and swapped it out. The two incorrect washers sort of work in the spares machine to take up the slack and stop platen jiggling.
Once you start, you can’t stop. The spares machine gets a makeover. Look at the filth on those keys! I had assumed that the white legends had been worn away by time, but no! I used eco friendly bathroom cleaner and the typewriter now smells of peaches.
Here’s those confounded fraction typeslugs again. See how ridiculously shiny they are! Highly likely to never have been used until I did a type sample!
Google does not have the answer about the five eighths keys…
Not a fan of the grey crinkle paint. Makes an interesting close up shot though. A bit like a brain coral?
Oopsie! Damage in transit. In a banana box. Hoping I can find a replacement because I’m not sure my Kintsugi kit will do the job on this.
Besties! 1941 made in USA, 1951 made in Britain.

Treasure in Bexhill

£20

(The woman at the till was so pleased that I was buying the typewriter. She told me she had taken a Pitman’s typing course, many years ago, and had struggled on a “big old huge thing” )

Edit: the hashtag is hard to find on typewriters in the U.K. I realise some readers might be confused about why I was so happy with the typeset!

On Safari in Hastings

In the window of the quirkiest solicitor’s offices in Hastings
This place has some nice little treasures…
The only Valentine I’ve seen in the wild
This one caught my eye through the window but a little too many squids for my pocket
So cute
And here’s another
Seemed like everywhere I looked there was another typewriter
The owner let me into the shop just as he was closing up, so there was no time to see everything in detail. Slightly regretting that half pint a few doors up the road beforehand! Oops. I will return another day for a closer look.