Thursday, April 30, 2015

Typewriter Love

I have a thing for typewriters.

If you visit my Pinterest board called "Typewriter Love," you will see that I love pictures of typewriters, pictures of authors working at their typewriters, mixed media art featuring typewriters, font created by typewriters, jewelry that includes typewriters, rubber stamps that create images of typewriters, keys that come from typewriters...

You get the idea. 

When I was in high school, my mom would help me out by typing up some of my school papers at her work table in the kitchen.  Somewhere around tenth or eleventh grade, I typed a few of my own, and well remember the perils of typing too soon over an error I had covered in Wite-Out.  By my senior year--gasp!--I had my very own MacIntosh Classic, complete with totally unsatisfactory dot matrix printing on tractor feed paper.  Was that a step forward?  I'm just not sure!  Nothing quite compares to a good old-fashioned typewriter.

For a long time now, I've been wanting a typewriter of my own, but didn't know exactly what I was looking for.  Enter The Snail Mailer!

I met Becky (known by her mail art moniker, The Snail Mailer) online through our mutual interest in mail art, and met up with her face-to-face at the Allentown Paper Show back in 2013.  (You can see a photo of us in that post!)  We have stayed in touch, and she was willing to sell me one of the typewriters from her collection.  I picked it up on Saturday morning on my way to this year's paper show, and I couldn't be happier.
How cute is this?

It is a Smith-Corona Skyriter--an adorable lightweight portable typewriter that sits right in its carrying case.  Becky got it all conditioned and ribbon-ed for me, and it even has its original owner's manual and Touch Typewriting Chart, which fit in the pouch inside the lid of the case. 

For someone who really doesn't have a lot of room for more tools and supplies, its small size and portability are a dream. 
Right away, my six-year-old gave it a try, and she and I took turns trying to get used to the force required to strike the keys to paper. 
As Becky told me by email, "It makes you appreciate how strong those ladies typing 75 words per minute were doing it!"  Indeed, it does!

Aside from a little practice, I've only done one small project with my new typewriter so far.
I got the idea somewhere to collect small portions of sand from the different beaches I visit, so I started with sand from Waikiki and Kailua Beaches from my family trip to Oahu last year.  It has been sitting in an unattractive plastic spice bottle for over a year now, but today, I was able to transfer it to this nice glass bottle, and use my Skyriter to create a specimen label for it.  I'm headed to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, this summer, so I'll be able to add another bottle to my collection.

And by then, I'll have mastered my Smith-Corona Skyriter for all my typing needs!

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Reveal: Loot from the Allentown Paper Show

Okay, Paper Lovers, I won't leave you hanging for long.  Here's a peek at my purchases from the Allentown Paper Show on Saturday.

First, here's something a bit unexpected:
I couldn't resist this bride-and-groom cake topper, and have the idea that a collection might form.  Last time I went to the Paper Show there was an entire suitcase of these to choose from, but now that I am interested, this is the only one I saw. 
These cut-outs appear to be characters in a game, with names like Mrs. Dough, the baker's wife; John Bull, the butcher, and Mrs. Bull, the butcher's wife; Professor Pluss; and Heave Ho, the sailor.  I did some research trying to figure out what they might be, and I am thinking that they might come from the 19th century game called  Happy Families.  If you have heard of this, and agree, please let me know!
I picked up these Cracker Jack "surprise" wrappers, along with some tiny Cracker Jack baseball trading cards.  (And I laughed to myself since I have a fit when my girls want to save their candy and lollipop wrappers!  That's tomorrow's ephemera!)
I bought these Macdonald Plaid and Top Value Stamps from the 1960s.  I suppose I should have bought the books, too, but I was really just interested in these.  As I understand it, customers would collect the stamps from their grocery store purchases, save them into books, and then redeem them for merchandise showcased in catalogs they could look through.  Grocery stores still do versions of this today, and I have a few good pots and pans to show for it!
I found this little book absolutely charming:  a dance card from the 1920s!  It is from the De Molay Fifth Anniversary Prom on October 19, 1928.  One page lists the prom committee, and two pages are available for the girls to list their promised dance partners.
Looks like someone fancies Al!

I had never seen a dance card before, and think it is another great potential collection.  (And at $3, an affordable collection, too!)
These trading cards measure about 2 inches by 4 inches, and most come from Liebig's Fleisch-Extract.  This is apparently a thick, dark, syrupy beef extract paste sold in glass bottles and tins in the late 1800s, early 1900s.  Yum! (Not.)  They have wonderful illustrations, though!
Of course, I picked up the requisite stash of yummy receipts and checks with lots of original writing from the 1880s and the 1910s.
I bought a few magazines and brochures from the dollar bins, mainly for their advertisements from the 1930s to the 1960s.  I was hoping for some domestic magazines, like Good Housekeeping and House Beautiful, but the dealer selling these wanted $6 each, and many had pages and pictures cut out!  I probably could have wheeled and dealed, but by the time I found him, I was at the end of my five hour foray and feeling a bit burned out.
I didn't buy too many postcards this time, mainly because I have so many already and I wanted to spend more of my time sifting through the photographs.  But here is the selection I bought from the 15-cents-apiece boxes.  More than anything, I got them because of the messages and stamps on their backsides:
I purchased a bag filled with Grand Union Tea Company Tea Checks, which I forgot to photograph.  I was interested to see that a seller on Amazon is asking $15 for one tea check, whereas the seller at the paper show basically begged me to take a stack of them off his hands for $3.  Buyer beware!
And finally, I indulged in a big stack of photographs, both some of the more formal shots, but mainly snapshots.  I don't remember seeing such a selection of casual photos before, and I absolutely love them.  I usually think of people in old photos being stodgy and serious, but check out some of these great pics:
I am going to do a separate post to show you some more images from the photographs I found, because they are truly priceless!

So that's the new stash.  What do you think?  What are your favorites here, and what would YOU do with them?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Paper Crazy at the Allentown Paper Show

There's nothing quite like spending the day around a huge group of people who not only understand, but also share, my tremendous love for "all things paper".  At the Allentown Paper Show, two huge rooms are filled with postcards, photographs, movie posters, postage stamps, comic books, trading cards, official documents, letters, wrappers, paper dolls, greeting cards, matchbooks, brochures, cigarette cards...and that's just the beginning of the list! 

I spent three hours in the car, five hours in the exhibition hall, and way too much money, but I have some amazing additions to my ephemera stash, and can hear my art room calling me to new projects as I sit here and write this.

First, here are a few views of the show itself:
The postcards are clearly a big attraction, and many people pretty much park themselves in front of the boxes searching through their favorite categories and price points.
I didn't get quite as excited about postcards this time around, but spent lots of time flipping through boxes of photographs, especially those labeled "snapshots," and generally costing a quarter or two apiece. 
There are all kinds of collectibles that I have no interest in purchasing, but enjoy taking pictures of, such as:
vintage magazines and comic books:
boxes, bottles, and tins for soaps, salves, and medications:
Calendars and advertisements:
Photo albums, autograph books, and scrapbooks:
Matchbooks (I saw a LOT more of these this year than last time):
Magazines, pamphlets, and playbills:
Collectibles that are kind of cute:
And collectibles that are definitely creepy:
And every other sort of collectible you can imagine in between:
There weren't too many 50 cent tables, I can tell you that!  (And I can tell you that most of what is on this table are calendars that have been pulled apart to sell the pages separately!)
I quickly remembered a couple of things that I realized in October 2013, when I last attended the show:  First, I already have a LOT of ephemera, so it's tough to lay out a lot of money for postage stamps, for example, when I still have boxes of them for use at home. 

And, second, many (maybe even most) of the vendors are priced WAY outside my range, and the prices seem to be rising.  More than once, I overheard customers paying HUNDREDS of dollars for a single movie poster, historic document, or photograph.  And even things like $12 or $15 for a single photograph are above my pay grade. 

But that's not to say that I couldn't find plenty of fairly reasonable ways to spend my money! 

Because this post has proven to be so photo-heavy, I am going to share photos of my purchases in my next post.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, for more Allentown Paper Show eye candy, check out my posts from April 2013 and October 2013.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Aftermath of a Library Book Sale

I've composed at least four blog posts in my head over the past two weeks, and even have photos to go with them, but they've never made their way to the computer.  But here I am finally.  Hello! 

I turned 42 since I last checked in, and had an overnight birthday getaway with my husband while my mother watched the girls.  I've also been to the dentist, nursed a six-year-old back to health, taken my kids to their first theater production, cooked about twelve dinners, driven to my kids' school and back about fourteen times, attended a couple of gymnastics classes for the kindergarten set, hung out with teenagers at my church's Youth Group, went to a Book Club meeting, met with my Living Stones friends, and attended a Vacation Bible School planning meeting.

So, yeah, not much going on around here...

What I really need to tell you about today, though, is the latest library book sale.  I go to at least four of these sales each year, if not more.  I have boxes and shelves of books that I haven't even gotten to yet from previous sales, but I just can't stop myself from going.  I can't stand to think of what might be there that I might miss!

Today's sale was the one that I consider the best of all the ones in our county--the Media Free Library Book Sale.  I usually go on Sunday and enjoy half-price, but I went on full price Saturday--ouch!   Here's the loot I came away with, though--well worth full price, at $2 apiece.
I don't always find so many art-y books at the library book sales, especially not collage and mixed-media titles.  And acrylic painting!  And book binding!  Pretty remarkable finds today.  I actually already have a copy of Collage Playground; stay tuned, since it might end up in a giveaway soon!
I've been searching out images from the 1940s and 1950s lately, so I jumped at the chance to buy a stack of past issues of Good Old Days and Looking Back magazines. 
I couldn't see inside because of the way they were bound up, and there aren't as many illustrations as I had hoped, but there are a couple of fun features in each magazine from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, including:

Some great photos--
Vintage comic strips--
Old advertisements--
Cartoons from the era--
Fashion notes--
Even sheet music of popular songs of the times--
There should be a thing or two in there I can use in my projects.

Aside from art-y books, I purchased these other titles:
I've got some big-time reading to do!

While I leisurely perused the sale, my husband took the girls to make their purchases, and you can see the aftermath of their library book sale experience in the family room:
If it's true that you can never have too any books, then my family is living proof!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Introducing Kids to ATC Art

Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are a fun way to get kids creating and sharing art with a wide audience, and Rose Chislom has created an online community via Facebook to encourage children to get involved in trading ATCs around the country and around the world.
Rose's Facebook community, called All About the Kids Art ATC, is a closed group, but easy to join if you have children in your life who might have fun creating, sharing, and receiving art.  She has multiple themes running at a time in order to appeal to lots of different kids.  When I got involved just a couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to encounter a My Little Pony theme, which happens to be my girls' VERY favorite cartoon, and the subject of most all of their drawing and art-making these days.
Other themes include Superheroes, particular letters of the alphabet, Mine Craft, Star Wars, fairies, postage stamps, and family--truly something for everyone!
The only "rule" for ATCs is the size requirement:  2-1/2 by 3-1/2 inches.  They can be drawn, painted, colored, photographs, fabric, whatever.  Children of all ages participate.
Most of the events appear to be 3 for 3:  create and send in three ATCs, and you will receive three ATCs (from all different child artists) in return.  Rose collects all of the contributions, and organizes them to send back out to participants, which ensures that your child will receive something equivalent to what they have sent in.  (Have you ever participated in those chain letter things with your children, making sure that you follow all of the directions to a T, for "sticker club" and the like, only to have your child receive NOTHING in return?  Happily, this exchange is set up to avoid that kind of disappointment.)
If your child creates ATCs that are not part of the established swaps, you can post their art on the Facebook page, and see if anyone wants to do an individual trade.
For those of you who would like your child to participate, you can find All About the Kids Art ATC on Facebook and address any questions to Rose.  I think it is such a fun project that she has created, and a great way to give your kids a wider audience for their art!

** All of the My Little Pony art in this post was created
by my own children, for their first ATC swap.**