This book was made for the Personal Histories Exhibition. It was not the book I first intended to make – there was another book I was working on at the time – but I just could not make this book work. I was disappointed, I thought I wouldn’t be able to take part, but one morning (lying in bed!) the idea for a new book came to me – it came from this blog post about one of my typewriter ramblings.
Initially I didn’t think the book would be suitable for the Personal Histories project, but then when I started to think about I realised it was actually perfect. As I made the book and started to type up the Read Me that goes into the back pocket I realised how much it was a part of my personal history, much more than I had ever realised before.
Another thing that happened, was that everything seemed to come together really quickly. I already had all the paper and card (for the cover) – left overs from other projects. The 2 stamps for the images I used were from 2 other books I had made. That is not to say it was a really easy to make – there were the usual hiccups along the way, failed experiments and my printer breaking down.
This is probably the simplest book I have ever made in terms of construction – not a hardcover, no gluing or cutting book board. The most difficult thing was all the typing. The typed text in the book pages was easy. I’ve come up with my own technique for alignment and measurement on the typewriter and there wasn’t a lot of text. However! I decided to be put a short ‘Read Me’ at the back in pocket – it was half an A4’s worth of typing. My original intention was to type it once get a good copy – scan this in and then print 10 copies (the book is an edition of 10). My printer had other ideas….so I ended up typing all 10.
When I started I thought there is no way I can type this 10 times – I’d done a few practice runs – but in the end I managed it. I made mistakes but I learned ways to amend them. My RSA I typing training started to come back to me. I learned to touch type in South Bristol College in the early 90’s on an electronic IBM and got a distinction in my exam! I remember buying my little typing kit from WH Smith with the special pencil eraser and brush etc. Its weird to think now that stationery shops sold things like that. I remember part of the training was correcting your mistakes and the tricks and techniques came back to me, I had totally forgotten about this even though I still have my certificate! Unfortunately the only photo I have of all 10 copies typed up is this awful one below. My hands were probably trembling after all the typing!
So not only did the book tell the story of part of my personal history – the making of it resurrected another part that I had forgotten about. I began to think about my long relationship with typewriters. The first typewriter I used was a very old Underwood (looking at photos it was probably a 1930s one). Looking back on it I was about 10 (no more than 12) when I started playing with the typewriter. I also forgot how much concentration it takes when you are using a manual typewriter – it was quite exhausting! You may also notice my lovely grey felt typewriter pad in the photo above. Very good for muffling the sound – especially since my Silver-Reed Silverette is the noisiest of all my typewriters. I got it from MyTypewriter.com It was expensive but I looked all over and this seemed the thickest and best quality. It fits all my manual typewriters (5 in total now!).
It wasn’t until I got right to the end of the book and had nearly finished that I realised that if it was not for the events described in the story I might not even be making books today. Then I felt a bit stupid in totally overlooking this and not realising it was such a big part of my personal history. The ‘Read Me’ explanation is similar to the blog post but slightly amended, with some other thoughts. If you’ve got good eyesight you may be able to read it from the photo below.
I can’t fully remember how I first started to use typewriter text for my rubber stamps but I seem to remember it has a lot to with font snobbery! Why else would I torture myself with choosing a really difficult serif font to carve instead of nice plain Verdana or Tahoma. I carved the text for the cover using the same method I had used for Nest Building Perils & Pleasures – all the text in that book was carved by hand (I must have been mad).
I am really happy with the way the cover text looks and it printed beautifully with a Memento Grey Flannel ink pad.
I used a 5-hole pamphlet stitch to sew it and decided to round the corners. I used an X-Cut 5mm corner punch for this. It did a good job on the thick 250gsm Somerset paper for the signatures and the Daler Rowney Canford Card (Dreadnought Grey) for the cover.
I am quite happy with the end result and it has been posted to the lovely Robyn Foster who is coordinating this exhibition. I would like to take this opportunity to also say thanks to Robyn for all her hard work and patience organising this. Sounds like a nightmare of a task!