Wednesday, March 11, 2020

On Notebooks

1930 Underwood Portable & Stitch-Bound Notebook
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I have a box full of these typewriter-themed note cards, which would make good covers for more handmade notebooks. This also gives me incentive for collecting notecards and other printed ephemera for use as cover art for notebooks.

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It's not difficult to see the photographic possibilities intrinsic to typewriter-themed notebooks when combined with old typewriters.

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Regarding the handmade notebook, it has 100 pages, a nice size for extended usage. The paper has a nice weight and finish, good for gel and fountain pens. After my frustration with yesterday's assembly process, mainly due to fumbling with the hand stitching process, I was rather pleased with the results. Still, there's room for improvement.

I keep the 1930 Underwood Portable on a small table in our patio room, handy for some quick grab-and-go writing on the front porch. This old machine has a great feeling action to the keys, and seems to be very reliable, aside from the occasional wonky ribbon advance when it gets near one end of the ribbon, which is why, when I'm actually writing with it, I remove the two ribbon spool covers (that have the nifty "UT" logo etched into them) so I can monitor the ribbon motion as I type. I've noticed in many old photos of writers with their typewriters, they often operated the machines with the ribbon covers removed. I recall seeing a more recent photo of Woody Allen at his Olympia, which he apparently still uses for writing, sans ribbon cover.

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My intention this afternoon was to just sit in the front patio, type a blog article and smoke a cigar. Then I began to admire the typewriter together with the notebook, and soon the shutter bug in me got busy. I wonder if these beautiful old machines were designed to be this attractive, or is it merely an artifact of distance in time, the effect of nostalgia? I suppose there are some people who are attracted to the beige and grey boxes of 1980's computers with their minimalist modern styling, but they don't, in my opinion, hold a candle to an old typewriter.

Typecast via Underwood Portable onto Clairefontaine Triomphe paper.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Bill M said...

Nice job on the notebook.
I've been searching for a preferred notebook lately, but never tried my hand at making one.

5:52 PM  
Blogger John Cooper said...

Of course the old typewriters were designed to be attractive! The first typewriters were expensive business machines that required a serious investment. To convince people to buy typewriters for personal use, manufacturers had to reduce size and cost—but they also had to make something that people wouldn't be ashamed to have on display in their homes.

Sounds as if you do beautiful work on your notebooks. Do you find that your handmade books lie flat when opened?

I remember when I was a kid, a certain line of paperback books had a colophon on the copyright page boasting that unlike their competitors, who glued individual pages on to a stiff spine that later cracked and released the pages, their books were "sewn in signatures, the traditional method of bookbinding" that assured a more durable book. I found that fascinating and wondered whose signatures they used, and how difficult they were to sew!

10:28 AM  
Blogger Martha Lea said...

Once you start making your own notebooks, it’s hard to stop! Welcome to the club :)

12:42 PM  
Blogger Richard P said...

This looks like a very satisfying craft to learn.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Gregory Short said...

I have been playing around with homemade journals. If hand-stitching ever starts driving you crazy, you can fold single sheets into simple, four-page signatures, stack, clamp, and glue them with a flexible-when-dry PVA glue. Flexible glue is key, allowing the book to lay flat. Of course, hand-stitching is much nicer, especially for gifts. And as far as pens, I recently discovered the Pentel Rolling Writer, a bold pen to match my bold writing. Take care, Joe!

8:40 PM  
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