I have a suspicion that MB is scheming to get me either a new iPad or a MacBook Air for my birthday (coming up on November 5, in case you want to send me a gift. Just sayin’.)
I’ve been lusting after both Apple devices since they were first introduced, and the prospect of owning one gives me tingles of delight.
It might seem odd, then, that the highlight of my week was taking delivery of a fully operational, vintage Royal 890 typewriter, purchased off eBay, and weighing in at over ten pounds (pictured above).
Didn’t we move on from typewriters back in the 90s? What am I doing with this obsolete item, probably built around the same time I was born?
What can I say? Just as writing longhand with a pen, and books made out of paper, are still a superior technologies for certain purposes, typewriters have their place.
Case in point: at Design Your Life Camp a few weekends ago, Maya Stein and Amy Tingle Williamson had everyone charmed and entranced with their tandem typewriter poetry — give them a word, and they’d each type out a poem on a 3×5 index card on their colorful vintage portables while you waited.
Offering spontaneous poems tapped out on sleek laptop computers hooked up to portable printers? Totally not the same.
New technology can do a lot, but it can’t do everything, nor should we endeavor to make it.
Alas, I never made it to the front of the line to get my own poems from Maya and Amy, but perhaps that lack is part of what rekindled my long-held fascination with manual typewriters and got me online seeking out one of my very own.
(Have I mentioned that lack of papercutting on the ketubah for my first wedding was the catalyst that got me doing papercutting myself, and ultimately led me down the road to becoming a professional artist and calligrapher? Lack can be a very good thing indeed.)
I doubt I’ll be so bold as to set out on a 40-day, ten-state bicycle road trip to set up mobile typing booths, as Maya did in 2012, but I’ll definitely be bringing my typewriter to my Create & Incubate Retreat in May, and who knows what other projects may emerge?
In the meantime, I’m having fun remembering how to type with great deliberation on keys that require intention and a bit of muscle to depress, make a satisfying clack on real pieces of paper, and leave a subtly debossed impression.
Hmmm… Manual type is a bit like nontoxic letterpress! Another hidden passion of mine, that I’ve only ever appreciated from afar because my extreme sensitivity to solvents prevents me from taking a letterpress class.
You may not be surprised to learn that it wasn’t long before I picked up some of the ArtSparks-in-process piled on my drafting table and rolled them into my typewriter to see what would happen.
Here are some pieces-in-process that I anointed with my Royal 890 this week:
I’m not sure what I’ll do next with these type ArtSparks, but stay tuned and you’ll find out!
Meanwhile, lest you fear that my typewriter has taken the place of my calligraphy, rest assured that as long as I can wield a pen, I’ll be using one to form letters with!
The lettering on the one below felt too dark for the background — too much contrast! So I wiped it down with a wet paper towel and dried it under a stack of books to prevent buckling. I like the ghost-like letters, but want them to be more legible than they currently are, so I’m still mulling over what to do next…
And the one below is possibly an example of the message written on it. All I can see are the ways it’s not working, and what I wish were different. But perhaps someone else will see what is working better than I.
Regardless, the beauty of working small is that even if I’m unhappy with a piece, I haven’t sunk a huge amount of time into it. It’s still a great learning experience, and the next one is waiting.
Watch for these (and more) ArtSparks to appear eventually in my ArtSpark gallery. And in the meantime, I hope you’ll play in your own Creative Sandbox!
(Speaking of playing, make sure you’re subscribed to my insiders’ newsletter, because I’ll be celebrating my upcoming birthday with some very special goodies for YOU, which I’ll be announcing to insiders this coming week…)
As always, if you have words or themes you’d love to see made visual as ArtSparks, let me know, and I’ll add them to the inspiration hopper.
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!
Toby Simon says
Couldn’t agree more! I feel like the more advanced and state-of-the-art communication tools become, the more valuable “obsolete” instruments are (to a certain few of us, anyway :). Typewriters, quills, reeds… those are set and done; they will never come out with a battery operated goose quill. It’s great to be connected to a time when that was the only way to write. Calligraphers get it. (I tried having this discussion with my technology-driven, medical doctor father in law… oh boy.)
Have fun with your typewriter! Can’t wait to see where you go with it.
Melissa Dinwiddie says
Yes, calligraphers get it. Sometimes I wonder if we’re the only ones who do… But in fact, I was talking to someone the other day who said that, for nonfiction, paper books are still outselling digital version. And I KNOW that I write differently longhand than I do on a computer keyboard. Ditto with my manual typewriter — it forces you to slow down! And because you can’t just backspace and erase, it forces you to be more deliberate and/or more accepting of imperfection! 🙂
Leave the “hi-technology is always superior” arguments to others. We know the truth. 😉