North (Am)Erika

North America was “discovered”, in a manner of speaking, by Lief Erikson, about 1000 years ago.

Seattle’s Leif Erikson memorial statue at Shilshole Bay Marina.

Lief got here first, and yet Chris Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci got all the glory. This must be corrected! Here are some suggestions to correct the injustice.

First, the USA shall become the USE (United States of Erika) and Canada will become SUPER, (Somewhat United Provinces of ERikland). When referring to what was previously called America, the new term shall be USESUPER.

All references to the term Columbia will henceforth be replace with the word Erika, since Chris Columbus was not first, and therefore by all logic, second rate, explorer-wise.

The Columbia River will become the Erika, and the province of British Columbia will henceforth be known as Icelandic Erikland, i.e. IE. The District of Columbia will become the District of Erika, etc.

Washington DC will become Washington DE, or Duh for short.

Now is also the opportune moment to replace all those missing and soon to be melted statues with new ones, of Lief the Lucky. We can use the bronze in an environmentally sensitive manner by recycling it in electric furnaces powered by solar energy. Those bare and empty podiums need something! Fortunately, statues of Lief already exist in many cities throughout North Erika, such as Duluth and St. Paul, Minn., as well as Seattle, Boston, Milwaukee and Chicago. Cities that can’t afford new statues, shall replace the head of the offensive existing ones with Lief’s head, change the plaques and call it a day.

The man had guts, good looks and was a damned fine sailor. His name has a natural sound, like an electric car; environmentally friendly and zero pollution.

Apart from statues, the USE (United States of Erika) already has a national holiday for Lief; October 9th.

In these tough times, we need a new hero!

Onward, Lief the Lucky! Long live North Erika!

Photo Credit: Steven Pavlov – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15950672

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To The Lighthouse

This is a real lighthouse, but I took some artistic license. There were no seagulls on logs, but the ones flying were in fact present, for a few moments. The actual scene when I photographed it was rather duller, the colours too hazy, so I livened it up with stronger shadows and highlights.

The thrift shops have opened here, but there have been no typewriters, luckily – otherwise I might have bought one! Eventually I hope to have maybe only a dozen typewriters, but it will take a long time to sell what I’ve got, unless I give them away. I could do that, but even so there doesn’t seem to be much demand these days. This is why I am trying not to buy any more typewriters, because I have nowhere to put them. I think there’s an inverse relationship between how much of a given thing one owns, and one’s desire to own more of the same. If I had three typewriters I might get excited about some that are available in my town right now. Varage seems to have lots of them these days. Same goes for old film cameras, of which I seem to have boxes and boxes full. Who needs it. Hence I’m more focused on doing art, which is easier to store. I work on 1/4″ thick panels, so a foot of shelf space can hold 30 or more paintings, compared to say 2 typewriters.

I do keep a typewriter close at hand, however, just so I can always admire it even if I have nothing to write at the moment. If I had to keep just one typewriter, it would probably be this one, 1958 Smith Corona Silent Super, aka Eaton’s Prestige. Or, maybe the Olympia Traveller…. or the H3K… or the Remington All New…

debatably the best typewriter in history?

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Ciel the Blue Horse

At last the sequel to Sky the Blue Mouse, which the world has been clamouring for. In these times of trouble, woe and “whoa – don’t get too close to me buddy”, let your spirits have a lift by delving deep into the world of blue animals, hobos, hot air balloons and mysterious stone towers!

Ciel the Blue Horse is now available on KDP in paper and ebook format. Click the picture to go to Amazon and get yours.

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The Social Distance Isolation Blues

Two months, no gigs. For a musician this pandemic has put a halt to that, among everything else. But, we came up with a plan this week – a concert on the front lawn, maintaining 2 metres between players. I debuted the Corona Gold guitar, which performed flawlessly. I however performed less flawlessly, and more so as the temperature continued to drop and the wind picked up. By 8 PM we were done, after 90 minutes straight out fun.

my band –  bassist Larry is behind the tree

the sign says it all

Meanwhile, life in isolation goes on. Meetings are held via computer. Days are spent alone, mostly, making something, or lately – painting again. I made a second guitar following the pattern of the Corona Gold, but this one strictly acoustic. I switched the top bracing from parallel to X, and made the body a little deeper than the previous one. Also employed the X brace on the back, and the same projected neck design. Having a tall bridge allows using a nifty adjustable bridge too, which makes action adjustments dead simple. Body and neck are maple, with spruce top.

Corona Gold II – the acoustic version – Engleman Spruce top

back plate – arched X braced

detail of projected fingerboard

detail of neck heel

Again I finished this using wiped on polyurethane varnish mostly, with a few coats of french polish shellac on the top to make it glossy.

When the guitar was done, I decided it was time to get out the paint again, after a year. My first project was a kid sized card table, which became the canvas for duck. This is for the amusement of my 3 grandsons.

duck on a small card table

Two of them saw it, and were mostly impressed with the little pictures of trucks I painted around the edges. So much for the duck!

Next up was a scene from the Presidential Range of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Once upon a time I spent many vacations hiking along those ridges, and several times staying in the huts. Lake of the Clouds hut is the largest of them all, and commands quite a view from its perch on the shoulder of Mt. Washington.

lake of the clouds hut

Sticking with the wilderness theme, I rendered my vision of a scene along the Cold River in the Adirondacks of New York (corrected from previous label of Raquette River, which was somewhere else). This was from a slide (Kodachrome even) I took while hiking the Northville-Placid Trail in 1979. May it remain ever wild and remote.

I’ve also been working on another picture book for kids, called Ciel The Blue Horse, and intend to publish it any day now.

Ciel frees Aaron the snail from the bucket in which he was captured.

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Corona Gold Guitar

Guitar #6 c. 2001

When I took up guitar building, I began by attempting to build an archtop guitar. I quickly concluded that I should try something simpler, so I put that aside and built five other guitars before returning to the archtop in 2001. I carved the top from a hunk of cedar I glued up from lumber I found at the local yard. It was a huge thing, and it sounded great, but when I tried to stick a pickup on it I ruined the top. I was going to throw it away, but then decided to see if a simple domed top would work. I removed the old top and made a new one for the body.

body with top removed

new top – domed plate

attaching new top to the old body

I didn’t try to disassemble the neck, because it was made like a classical guitar, with the ribs built into it. So I slid the new top into place and glued it on.

guitar #6 – version 2

I played this guitar for years, and stuck a face mounted pickup on it. It sounded great, but it was still huge and unwieldy. Last year I decided to have a go at turning it into a thinner, smaller guitar that I could use in the band, so I sawed the back of it off, and reformed the lower bout, reducing it by 2″. I put on a new back, and made a cutaway so I could access the high notes. I needed controls for the pickup however, so I cut a hole in the lower bout, planning to mount the controls there on a plate. When I played the guitar after making the hole, it sounded better! I decided to leave the hole, and I mounted the controls on the body between the two main braces. I stuck a mason jar ring into the new soundhole, because it just happened to fit. Everyone seems to notice this.

guitar#6 – version 3

This became my main guitar for band use, since everyone who heard it said it was better than my other guitar. This may have to do with the pickup, an old Framus single coil. I played it for a couple of years, and recently decided to build a copy. I hadn’t built a guitar in 5 years and thought this would be a good idea, if only to see if I still had it in me to do it. I began in February and worked on it steadily for the past 6 weeks. Building a guitar is intense , and I thought of little else for the time I was engaged on the project. The guitar has a maple body, stained gold with home made dye made from turmeric. Since it is the colour of beer, I have called this guitar the Corona Gold.

the Corona Gold

I copied guitar #6 closely, with a few improvements. Luckily I had a second old Framus pickup, so the pair of them sound pretty much the same plugged in. The new one has a bit more punch however, as it is a little deeper than #6. The new neck is attached with a dovetail joint. The body is exactly 70mm deep. I made the neck in two parts – the dovetail block was made first, then the neck part was glued to that. This allowed for a solid neck from end to end.

neck projects and is not connected to the body below

the back – gold stained maple

That’s it for now – I have too many guitars as it is!

 

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Are You Lonesome Tonight?

Yes, it’s getting lonely all alone here, counting cars go by, fewer and fewer cars, as the bodies pile up….

Oh well, it’s poetry time again! After another hard day of getting up late and trying to find something to do, I sat down at my trusty old Smith-Corona to release my mind from the agony of nothingness. Actually I worked on a guitar today, had a nice walk around the lake and didn’t catch anything that I’m aware of. Naturally, I avoided hugging and kissing people out on the trail, and purposely didn’t lick any door knobs or religious symbols.

 

 

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Viral Poetry

There once was a man from Verona001

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March 20, 2020 · 1:13 pm

Halda by Malmsten

my 1958 Halda

When I first started collecting typewriters, I got spoiled by the low prices, so when I saw a Halda up for auction at $60, I declined to bid on it. That was years ago, and in the interim I developed a craving to have a Halda, for numerous reasons. For one, it looked great. Two, it reputedly was well made, and one of the best portables. Three, the body was designed by a Swedish architect, Carl Malmsten, whose work I admire. Four, Ernest Hemingway used one. Ernest must have known something about typewriters, so I took this as being a quasi recommendation.

Halda purportedly owned by Hemingway. Zipper broken no doubt.

Five, I love the green colour of the Halda. Six, I like Swedish things, and admire their design ethic and particular way of thinking. So when I recently discovered a Halda for sale across the water in Vancouver, I decided to buy it. It came by courier a few days later, and I eagerly opened the beat up wooden case. I was not disappointed. The Halda is a thing of beauty, and not merely skin deep. True to my hopes and expectations, it captured me with its subtle, clean, compact shape, and the minimalist but elegant use of chrome trim with a red stripe. Here is as close to perfection in appearance as it gets, certainly rivaling the Lettera 22, which of course was also designed by the great Italian architect and designer, Marcello Nizolli, chief designer at Olivetti.

side view with carriage lock lever

It gives me a vicarious thrill to see such quality products that are designed by architects. Perhaps it’s simply the confirmation of my opinion that the training ground is fertile for designing many things, not just buildings. There are no doubt a lot of excellent typewriters in the world, typewriters that function brilliantly as machines, but that lack the je ne sais quoi that separates the merely functional from the beautiful. That is why I treasure my Lettera 22’s, of which I can’t seem to let go, and now my Halda. They not only do what they were intended to do, but also are so beautiful to look at that I never grow tired of admiring their beauty.

My Halda, built in 1958, has the more modern larger green key tops, not the original rounder black ones. They have a good feel, so I don’t mind that. Hemingway’s Halda had the original key tops, however, as can be seen in the pictures. Other than that, I’m fairly sure the workings of the Halda remained the same throughout it’s life. There were various cases for it, and mine is not the nice leather one, but a plywood box. The lid had suffered, so I ripped off the thin cloth exterior and the top layer of veneer that had peeled away. I glued down all the loose edges, patched the bare spots with the scrap piece from the lid, and glued on a heavy piece of primed canvas. I masked it all and sprayed the lid with dark green spray paint. Lastly, I wrapped the worn out handle with heavy black leatherette, sewn in place.

double catch safety latch

The typeface is 11 pitch, which I find pleasant. I have no information on who designed the font, but in my searching I discovered an excellent research paper on Academia, entitled Type Design For Typewriters: Olivetti, by Maria Ramos Silva. A must read for anybody interested in the fascinating history of Olivetti and typeface design.

Type_design_for_typewriters_Olivetti

Carl Malmsten was a Swedish modernist, but not of the Bauhaus sort. He was closer to Alvar Aalto and Frank Lloyd Wright, who eschewed the stark, form follows function ethic of the so called Modern School that more or less made a de facto coup d’etat of much of the world’s architectural schools in the previous century. I wish we had been more influenced by Scandinavians! Not that I’m against the Modernists, but I love  Scandinavian design on the whole, especially when it comes to furniture. Malmsten once designed a simple solid pine table that you will now have to pay many thousands for, clearly a predecessor to IKEA, which may have been expensive in its day, but surely not as expensive as it is now. Such is how famous name designer furnishings have appreciated, like some art that once was sold for the price of the canvas and the paint, and is now the purview of millionaires only. Far better to get a Halda for only $75 plus shipping, no? This table is listed at more than five thousand dollars. One look at this and I know I could build a decent replica in my shop, if I really wanted to. But build a replica Halda? Never! Nobody could, or they would – wouldn’t they?

Malmsten dining table in pine = early IKEA!

Here is a picture of the Malmsten table, discovered for sale on line in Dronten, Netherlands. I once made a trip to Dronten to see their town centre, called the Dronten Agora, or Meerpal.

Dronten Agora – click for good article about the building

In researching my final year thesis project at architecture school (c. 1975), I came across this building in a magazine. It was a recently built multi-use facility in a fairly new part of the Netherlands that had not long before been the ocean. When I was in Holland the next year, I had to go see the place, so we drove a long way across the monotonous flat barren polders to Dronten. This is not where one would expect to find expensive dining sets. But I suppose it was cheaper at one time; much, much cheaper! Seeing it again in the above noted article, the building is still as impressive as ever, both in concept and execution. I was originally inspired by how the building was not a tour de force so much as a place where people could go and do all sorts of things. Its usefulness was much greater than any one activity, style or fleeting fad. Multifunctional – like a typewriter!

M for margin release

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Clipper Makeover

repainted Smith Corona Clipper

Boeing 314 “Clipper”, named after a typewriter!

It’s been years since I repainted a typewriter. I recently sold the last one I repainted, so when I picked up a drab Smith Corona Clipper I decided to have another go at repainting. I had forgotten just how much work it is, and how fussy. I removed all the panels, sanded out the chips and scratches, then filled in the holes with quick body filler, sanded again, then primed and then got down to spraying. Of course I screwed it up right away by missing spots and then adding too much paint to others. You can’t respray this paint unless you wait 24 hours, another mistake I learned about the hard way when the old paint wrinkled. This machine has CLIPPER printed on the back of the paper feed, but the serial number and features are those of a Sterling, series 5A, not 5C. So it’s a Sterling with a Clipper label. I decided to recreate the Clipper logo with the Boeing Clipper, and print my own water slide decals for that and the Smith Corona name. I copied the clipper logo from a photo I found on line and worked up a reasonable facsimile by hand drawing the plane and importing that into MS Publisher. Combined with text and another imported file of a blue line I drew for the waves, I designed my own Clipper logo, which I then printed on clear water slide decal paper.

 

Same thing for the Smith-Corona logo.

I clear coated the lid to protect the decals and reassembled the bodywork. It’s a lovely typewriter, but I’m going to sell it because I have several of these already, and don’t need more of the same. I hope someone will enjoy this little gem. I won’t get enough money for it to justify all the work involved, but it was fun all the same. Also, I learned how to make water slide decals, and made some labels for my guitars.

During the process of hunting down the logo for the Smith Corona Clipper, I learned a lot about the Boeing 314 “Clipper”. Air travel should be like this! Beds and staterooms, dining rooms, lounges, and separate bathrooms for men and women. Air travel has really improved since those days, because now we have gender neutral toilets. Plus we have 50 channels of programs. Back then they had to get up to go eat. Now they bring you the “food”, and it is so delicious.

Boeing only ever made 12 of them, all for Pan Am Airways, but the plane is much larger in legend. Every plane was called a Such and Such Clipper. There are none left. Only typewriters remain…and of course our own Victoria to Seattle Clipper – a fast catamaran that goes from here to Seattle daily. Maybe they will buy this typewriter for the passengers to use!

The Victoria Clipper

sheet of decals

my version of the Clipper logo

my Smith Corona decal

Guitar logos:

 

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*Corona*

Just for a minute, forget the virus, the beer, the ring around the moon, and everything else but this: *Corona* the typewriter. There are a multitude of pages about the Corona typewriter, which was a sensation in its day. Now I understand why.

Corona 3 – 1916 – front view

folded position

case with manual (reprint)

The above scans are from the first test pages I typed just as soon as I could get the thing ready. Pretty impressive for 104 years old. I had to hunt around to discover where some of the symbols were, since they were not clear from the keys. The = sign is on the K, but it is indicated with a -. As noted above, the comma is indicated by the “.”, and where they show “,” is actually “-“. I straightened out the off kilter key symbols by pushing the paper discs from the underside of the keys. Several rings just came off, and I pushed them back on. The typebar cushion rest was made of cork and had been damaged, so I removed that and slipped in a piece of heavy wool piano felt. The feet are there, but no longer soft, so I might dig out the hard old rubber and slip in some new grommets that should fit nicely. Aside from that, the front panel of the case needs some repairs to the hinge of leather, and that’s it. Lastly, thanks to Richard Polt again for making all those manuals available. I downloaded the Corona manual, which was extremely useful! I might never have figured out how the ribbon winding system worked without the manual to explain it. I printed a small version to keep in the case where it originally fit, too.

“=” is on the K, and “,” is on the “.” key

rebuilt in Vancouver BC

chrome plated bell! nice chime, too.

bottom of the folding carriage

gears for ribbon winding

case latch and leather handle

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