October 8, 2014

Discovering Historic Tools: A Royal Typewriter

“Click, click, clickity, click. Ding. Thunk, zip, zip. Whoosh....”

My 9 year old asks, “What is that?!” 

“An old typewriter. A manual mechanical typewriter. A keyboard without a computer sort of...” I’m trying to explain—“You push this key down and it strikes the ribbon here and the key and the ribbon hit the paper and there you go, there’s the letter “e” on the paper!”

“Oh. I wanna try!” my daughter replies.

So our writing adventure began. We took turns on our "Royal Blue" typewriter creating short stories.

The first Royal typewriter rolled out in 1906. It was nicknamed the “Royal Loyal” because it was such a dependable machine. Famous wordsmiths on this machine were American journalist Herb Caen, author Ernst Hemingway and British novelist of the James Bond fame, Ian Fleming.

In 1927, a grand scheme at Royal was created—something to rival Amazon and it’s drones—200 Royal typewriters were delivered to stores by air. Royal’s then President, George Edward Smith came up with this gimmick to pack the typewriters in crates and parachute them down to dealers. Of the 11,000 typewriters delivered by “air” only 10 were damaged.

We found our “Royal Blue” on vacation near Bend, Oregon at the Habitat for Humanity Resale Store. We only needed a new ribbon and we were off click clickiting. Now if we just had some ditto paper...


Typewriter Repair Shops near Seattle:
• CPR Computer & Printer Repair 
• Bremerton Office Machine Company
• Bob Montgomery: 92 year old typewriter repairman, Seattle Times
• Royal Typewriter Company

Writing with your kids:

Write a short story using a historic tool such as a manual typewriter, a fountain pen or a feather dipped into an ink well. It'll be funreally!


June 13, 2014

Oregon Grape Plant: Yellow and Purple Dyes

The Native Northwest people used the Oregon Grape plant to create bright yellow dyes and a variety of medicines. The yellow dye is created from the plant’s inner bark and roots. It creates yellow flowers in the spring and purple berries in the summer. The berries produce a purple dye (although it’s not known for its stability). 

This spring, I drew an Oregon Grape plant. (These plants grow all over the place in the Puget Sound area.) 

May 19, 2014

"Our Neighborhood" Interactive for the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI)

Recently, I finished a project where I designed the “Our Neighborhood” interactive for Weatherhead Experience Design for the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) in Seattle. 

During the 1950s in Seattle, new neighborhoods were being formed in great numbers. This interactive celebrates that history as well as recording the new stories. In this piece, I tried to capture the 1950s and the spirit of Seattle—fun, smart and quirky.

The Neighborhood sign is made up of letters from famous historic signs around the Seattle area.

For this project, I had fun researching 1950s art, product design, typography, illustrations, advertisements 

Visitors learn about the history behind the neighborhoods and they have an opportunity to share their neighborhood’s story. (see above) Visitors can play a game that predicts neighborhoods that they would enjoy. (see below)

It takes a small village to create these interactives. I worked with Weatherhead Experience Design: Andrea Weatherhead, Writers: Katrinka Mannelly and Joe Wahman, Project Manager: Susan Merrill, Code Developer: Bob Freeman, all the staff at MOHAI who helped out, Executive Director: Leonard Garfield and Historian: Lorraine McConaghy.