Monday, December 19, 2011

Magic Margin is now Taking Applications

The Typegrant Application is available right now! Just click on the Typegrant button on the right and you will be transported to a PDF you can print off, fill in, and send to:

Magic Margin Typegrants
c/o Ryan Adney
Alhambra High School
3839 West Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85019

This grant is open to all high school students currently enrolled in a comprehensive high school in the continental United States. There are four typewriters available, two of which are reserved for Arizona applicants.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Just A Couple of Things

This post is more of an update on several parallel activities happening at Magic Margin rather than new content. It has been a rather busy build-up to the holiday season. 

I am putting the finishing touches on the Typegrant application form. If I can get a few minutes on the computer, I'll post it tonight. As it stands the application is about two pages long. It's not a remarkably difficult application process and should only take a few minutes to fill out. I don't want to make the entire thing unduly difficult.

The first Typegrant application deadline is scheduled for March 2nd, 2012. The grants are open to any high school student currently enrolled in a four-year high school and on-track to graduation. 

There are four typewriters that I am in the process of getting cleaned up and ready to give away. I have set aside a Smith-Corona Sterling, an SCM Classic 12, a '50s Royal QDL, and the Hermes 2000 for Typegrant awardees. I think that this small collection represents a nice cross-section of typewriters. 

I still want to post something using the Facit's script typeface. It's really quite nice and it might be fun to do a comparison/contrast with the Smith-Corona's  script typeface. This is the same identical model that Ted Munk has called the Iron Lady; no doubt due to the immense weight.

Well, do keep an eye out for the application and some fun stuff!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Salvo Into the Fortress of Hipsterdom

UPDATE: As you can see I have completely sold out of typewriters. The experiment proves that, with a reasonable price, a nice typewriter sells itself on Etsy. I have a few more that I plan on offering, but I want to get these other ones sipped out before I do. It's been a crazy few days. My prices were a little on the high side and they still sold. However, my prices are more than 1/2 of the nearest competitor. Now I have more than enough money for Typegrant ribbons.

Maybe it's my imagination, but Etsy has been largely ignored by the Typosphere. The boutique prices  seem to be the major detraction. However, I think that an over-priced market is a great place to introduce a lower-priced alternative. That's why I went ahead and set up an Etsy Shoppe (old-timey spelling intentional). I've priced the three typewriters lower than any comparable typewriter on the site. That still makes them much more expensive that I would have normally spent in thrift stores and the like. We'll see if anyone in interested in buying a $65 Hermes 3000 when there are identical $135 machines on the site. At the very least, I imagine that some of the shops will consider lowering their prices a bit.

Magic Margin: ruining boutique pricing since December 10th.

Here's the link to my shop:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Facit-nating Turn of Events

Last night I got another email message from Eric saying that he found 9 more typewriters in the back of the storage unit. I was floored. My mind started imagining fantastic impossibilities. Silver Sterlings. Gold-plated Royals. Lamberts. Odells. Sheer madness.

When Eric dropped of the machines I was a little more realistic, but still excited to find a few machines I have never had the chance to see in person. The one that caught my eye was this little Facit TP1.

Having never used one, I was in for a suprise. It's an absolutely lovely little machine. All metal and very rugged. The looks are modern and understated.

I love the detail of the name across the back. Robert has gone into more detail than I could every attempt (, but there was one surprise lurking in this little Swede. See if you can guess it. 

So, while you try to solve the mystery, I am going to find a place to put all these typewriters. Enjoy these other pictures.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Plan and Preview

The idea what to do with all these machines has really started me thinking. Sure, I could keep them in the classroom collection, but that would only impact my students. I want to share the love of typewriters with many people. That's why I have decided to create a new program called Typegrant. Typegrant is designed to get typewriters into the hands of creative young people. While the application process is still in development, a student under the age of 18 can apply to receive their own beautiful typewriter. Each one will be completely working and filled to the brim with ribbons, paper, and Ko-Rec-Type correction tabs. This machine will be their to keep. Exciting, no?

I will be working out the details over the weekend and hope to have a completed application and plan in the next few days. In the interim, please enjoy these pictures form the Eric Lawson donation!

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Little Organization Goes a Long Way

I took some time to dust my home collection and I thought that some people might enjoy a look at how I have them displayed.

Top left: Remington Model 7, Top right: Royal Quiet De Luxe
Bottom left to right: Corona Zephyr, Royal Portable, Royal Model 'O', Naval Royal Arrow

These are just the home machines. The ones at school make for the sum total of the collection. I really like this IKEA shelf (Expedit) because each cube is the perfect size for a typewriter.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Typewriter Activities: Part III

For those of you just popping in, I have put together 5 activities for teachers to use typewriter in a classroom setting. This is number 3 of 5. So, please excuse all the education lingo. 

Response Zine
This is my favorite activity so far. I like it so much that I am going to use it when we get to Romanticism (in a few days). It’s such a great thing to see student-made publications. When it comes to examples there thousands of good (and school-appropriate) zines yo could bring for inspiration. Look in your own community. I am sure you’ll find something.

Supplies Needed 
Several typewriters
Access to a Xerox machine
Saddle stapler
Old magazines
Zine introduction slideshow*

Set-Up Steps 
1. Have the Zine presentation queued up and ready to go.
2. Arrange your desks into groups of four.
3. Put all the supplies the students might need on group desk.
4. Set up a “binding station” on a table or desk somewhere in the room.

Activity Overview 
By creating a Zine in response to a literary selection, students will have the opportunity to express their opinions about a work an its meaning in a larger context. Also, students will be able to express opinions in a public forum. Zines are intensely personal so each group’s product will be vastly different. Don’t worry if the result is a little odd or strange. This is an acceptable outcome to this assignment.

Instructional Narrative 
Anticipatory set: “Does anyone know what a Zine is?” (Allow time for discussion.)

A Zine is an amateur magazine, but there is so much more to them. I would like to go through this presentation for you. If you have any questions, write them down on a piece of paper and you will get a chance to ask them later.

We are going to make Zines as a way to reflect and comment on what we have learned about Romantic literature. Romantics were inspired by nature and believed in the Romantic Notion. You are going to answer this question in the form of a Zine:

Does the Romantic Notion have a place in the 21st century? 

You will work with your table groups. If you feel like working on this project alone, that would be perfectly fine, you just need to let your table group and me know.

I am putting no restrictions on genre or style. As long as your Zine answers the guiding question (as you see the answer) you will have completed the requirements. Please give this an effort. What you put into this project will be reflected in your grade. I will give each table group a rubric to assist in developing their Zine. You will have a number of days to work on this project.

You may use any of the tools at your table. Typewriter, pens, pencils, magazine cutouts, etc. Be very creative.

Whatever you turn in will be copied and returned to you. Yo can then take what you have over the binding station and assemble it. Each table will make 20 copies of their Zine and we will make them available to our school community.

Other people will read it, so make sure that it represents our best work. We will deal with other problems as they arise. Are there any questions?

Wrapping It Up 
You will have to make all the copies for the students, but it shouldn’t be too difficult. Let them bind them and put them together. You will need to keep an eye on the content. Use the standards of your school be your guide. If in doubt, ask a colleague you trust.

You can use the finished products as fodder for reflections or other types of writing assignments.

Remember, this assignment can easily be altered to fit whatever you are teaching. Just change the guiding question.

*The slideshow will be done fairly soon. You will be able to download it here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Typewriter Activities: Part II

Typing Discussion (Silent Discussion with Typewriters)
As an activity, this one is pretty easy to do. The only challenge is that you need to keep your class silent for the discussion. What do I mean by this? Read to find out more:
  • A number of questions for whatever you’re teaching. (Hint: try to have questions that require a longer answer. “Who is Paine’s audience in ‘The Crisis’”? is a fair question, but “How does Paine use pathos to persuade his audience?” is a better question.)
  • 1 typewriter per question.
  • Pieces of paper.
  • Larger pieces of paper (legal or tabloid would be great).
Set-Up Steps
  1. Write one question on each of the larger pieces of paper. Make the question clear and easy to read.
  2. Set up the typewriters at stations where they are relatively far apart.
  3. Type each question on a sheet of paper.
  4. Load those sheets (with the typed questions) into the typewriters. Have the typewriter read to go.
  5. Post the questions on the larger sheets of paper above the corresponding typewriter.
Instruction Narrative
“...So, we are going to complete an activity called “Typing Discussion”. You may have noticed the typewriters I have set up around the room. Each one is under a question relating to our reading. When I say go, you are going to walk around the room, read each question, think of a complete answer, and type it down on the corresponding typewriter. After you have typed your response, type your name.
Don’t copy what someone else has said. Be original. If you are having a tough tome coming up with something to type, you can respond to someone else’s comment. Make sure that your response is substantive and adds something to the discussion. Don’t type ‘same”, “me too”, or anything similar. Also remember to keep all comments school-appropriate.
The key is to be quiet during this activity. All I should hear is the sound of typewriters. When you have responded to every question take your seat.
You will want to circulate during this activity. Proximity is the best tool for managing an activity like this.
Wrapping It Up
As a debriefing you can have groups of 3-4 look at each question and circle the “gem” in the morass and share out the findings. There might be some essay topics hidden among these pages.
Silent Discussion and this variant are great because students who are hesitant to share have a way to participate stress-free. I, however, am a little old-fashioned when it comes to teaching. I think that a little classroom stress can be good, but when I want everyone to show an understanding of the topic this is a good technique. Questions that are challenging and thought-provoking are needed. If you lob slow-balls this activity is nearly worthless. 

Friday, November 4, 2011


While I am working on the description of the next classroom typewriter activity, I thought you might enjoy some pictures of the newest machine to enter my private collection.

As you can see it is a pre-war Royal Arrow made for the US Navy. I have no idea what kind of service record this little typewriter had, but it did serve for some time in the Oregon Civil Defense.

The odd keyboard layout is one clue to the unique nature of this typewriter. The other clue to its specialness is the type style.

Sans-serif, with a slashed 0 is the hallmark of a "Radio Mill" typewriter. This machine was used to transcribe messages sent over wireless.


It boggles my mind to even think about what kind of messages this typewriter typed. There is definitely some history there.

The light white-gray paint was so dirty and grimy that the machine looked yellow. It was shockingly filthy, but the dirt created a protective layer ensuring that the paint, when clean, would look new.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Typewriter Activities: Part I

This is the first of five blog posts focusing on how a teacher can use a typewriter to enhance classroom activities. Most of these strategies are really modifications of existing best-practices.

I’ll start with an activity that has a huge visual impact. it’s called “The Never-ending Story.”
This activity relies on a variation of the big roll of paper that you may have seen mentioned in various corners of the Typosphere.

A manual typewriter (desktop models work well for this).
A very large roll of paper or a significant amount of continuous-feed paper.
A hanger.
3 or 4 binder clips.
Something long, thin, and heavy..a metal ruler would be good. Be creative.

Set-Up Steps
1. Find a nice, safe place where you can set up the typewriter and have the paper feed easily.
2. Hang the hanger from the ceiling above the typewriter. You can jimmy it into the false ceiling of your classroom.
3. Feed the paper to the typing-ready position.
4. Think of a basic conflict for a story.
5. Start by typing the first sentence of that story.
6. Give the classroom Instruction Narrative.

Instruction Narrative
“We are going to use this typewriter for an interesting experiment. We are going to write a story and everyone will have a say in how it turns out. It might be an interesting story or it might make no sense whatsoever. That’s OK. We are trying to be creative.

I have typed the first line of a story. I have no idea where this story will go or what kind of characters will be created. All I know is that this sentence is a springboard. Use it to create something completely unique. I want you to type the next line of this story. The next line needs to make sense and be related to the narrative that comes before. You cannot introduce a Deus Ex Machina. Everything must logically precede from the previous to the next..unless you don’t want to.

Everything must be school appropriate and you must include you name with your contribution. You may contribute once a day. Don’t add your contribution while another activity is going on. Be respectful of others.”

Wrapping It Up
Let this typewriter sit there for the entire school year. Keep reminding the students to contribute. In a school year you’ll have quite the story to read.

When the roll is so long that you cannot manage it, take the end of the paper and feed it through the hanger lodged in the ceiling. After feeding the paper, take the ruler or whatever you have and clip the paper to the edge. This will weight the paper slightly keeping it taught as it leaves the typewriter. It will look silly, but that’s part of the fun.

You don’t have to keep this typewriter out for the entire year. You could make it part of a unit or even a couple-day lesson. It’s imminently scalable. The whole story can even be copied for sharing or used as an editing exercise.

A great use for old paper.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Up-To-Date Textbooks

Well, it would be up-to-date in 1963. I was given this book along with a plethora of other things. My other hat at Alhambra is advising the Newspaper and Yearbook staff. Publishing and design has come a long way and I could not imagine making a yearbook in a pre-digital manner. However, I would be willing to give it a try.

Beautiful typeface.
What interested me about this book was the section about "Other typesetting machines." The Varityper, of course, is pictured, but there is another machine I have never heard of. I wonder how it works?

The Varityper has "crazy eyes."

The heavy brow makes the Justowriter look mean.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

How To: Cleaning Wrinkle Paint

You either love wrinkle paint or you put up with it hoping that a machine in shiny black comes your way. I happen to love the finish. It's very rugged, hides a myriad of metalwork sins, and can come in some very sober and serious colors. As great as I think this paint is, it is a magnet for dirt, grime, and crud. Dirt invariably make its way into the wrinkles and makes your typewriter look tired and grungy. However, the innate ruggedness of the paint makes it easy to clean. This is the process I use. Your mileage may vary. 

To start with you need some simple supplies. A couple of soft cloths, a small Tupperware container, a household laundry detergent without dyes or perfume, an old toothbrush, a utility spray bottle, and a blue Olympia SM3 (or whatever you happen to have). As with the other How-To, I recommend you dust/wet-dust your typewriter first. It takes a minute and "Water is the best solvent."

This process assumes that your typewriter is clean on the inside. There are some really good and some really bad ways to clean the inside of your typewriter. I'll share some of those other methods another day. This, however, is just an exterior clean. 

Everything begins with the cleaning solution. I like to use 1 part detergent to 4 parts water. However, I have been known to eyeball it. Whatever you think is right. I like to have just a hint of bubbles on the surface. 

Take your toothbrush, dunk it in the cleaning solution, and start scrubbing the typewriter. Use a fairly vigorous scrub. Depending on how dirty your typewriter is the suds will slowly change. They'll range from pale white to mud brown. The pictured machine was fairly clean to start with, so the suds are pretty white. The suds on one of my Royal Aristocrats looked like a mudslide. While you're cleaning, your nose will get a nice whiff of 50 year old dirt. Somehow, when you clean using this method, the smell of the past is rekindled. It's an odd smell, but you will learn to love it.

After you marvel at the dirt hidden in the wrinkles, take the spray bottle and use it to spray down the area you just scrubbed. Catch the run-off with one of the cloths. Work in sections and you will notice a significant improvement. Repeat until you are satisfied.

As a finishing touch I like to spray some Pledge on a cloth and go over the surface. Pledge adds a little shine and happens to smell nice.

If you have fingerprints from inky fingers, you might be able to get them out. At the very least, you will make it look a little better. I know there are other methods out there (Richard Polt uses PB Blaster to great effect), but this one has no harsh chemicals so your wife won't hate you for stinking up the house with kerosene.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Harlequin Creature

School is out for October break. We have been school-less since Monday. Our school district makes us go back to school a week earlier than everyone else so we can fit in the break mid-October. It's nice to be out of the classroom when the weather is this nice. Projects are getting done. Halloween decorations are up. Other hobbies are indulged.

I opened my email to find a letter from Nicole Ray, the talented Ann Arbor artist who made the banner for Magic Margin. She ran into a young woman, called Meghan, who is also doing something interesting with typewriters. She has a blog called Harlequin Creature. Her web site is the virtual counterpoint to a literary journal of the same name.

What makes this journal interesting is that every copy is hand typed. Meghan shares the work in small groups called "typing bees." The idea is similar to the quilting bee; people gather to complete a shared task. It is an exceptionally novel idea.

Volunteers for Harlequin Creature at a typing bee.

From what I can gather, the first edition is planned to be released this weekend with parties in New York and Ann Arbor. Imagine the work in typing a compete literary journal. Amazing. I cannot help but be amazed at how vibrant and creative the Typosphere is.