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Tuesday 1 January 2019

Happy New Year, From the Rainbow Typewriter Warrior with a Creamy Underwood

The scan above is of my typing on a refurbished Underwood Universal portable. The Underwood was a Christmas gift to myself. I worked on the typewriter for the week leading up to December 25, and finished just it in the Nick of time. The Underwood, which at some stage of its 81-year life - and a journey from Rangoon to Canberra - had been dropped and damaged but carefully rebuilt at the back. It still wasn't working properly, however - the back section remained buckled - and required further body and mechanical repairs by me, as well as a paint job and thus new decals (see the finished job below).
I didn't get the chance to use it before yesterday, when Christmas gifts belatedly turned up from my partner's daughter Emily Botterman in London (late thanks to Royal Mail and Australia Post). Emily is the marvellously gifted and generous young lady who made the typewritten boots featured here on December 13. To my astonishment, her Christmas gift package included a rainbow typewriter ribbon - I didn't know such a thing existed. So without a moment's delay, I fitted it to the Underwood's spools and started typing.
The rainbow ribbons are the work of Luke Winter, who makes and sells books, patches and typewriter ephemera to support his life as a writer. Emily, whose typewriter of choice is a French keyboard Olivetti Lettera 32, follows Luke on Instagram, though Luke himself uses a Lettera 22. His ribbons are available here, but they may be for sale in Britain only. Luke's email is
Luke uses the rainbow ribbons to type stories for strangers on the street. The half-inch ribbons are handmade and take Luke three to five days to prepare. The 2m long ribbons cost £14 (USD $17.86, AUD $25.35) and the 4m long ribbons £18 (USD $22.96, AUD $32.60). The inks used are acid-free, fade-resistant, non-toxic and child-safe. Each ribbon can be used multiple times. Luke says, "The longest I've used a single ribbon was for six months, writing each week. Lighter colours will become grubbier with multiple uses over time. Darker colours less so." Custom colour combinations (for example, alternating orange and black and purple and green for halloween, or turquoise and peach melba) are available at a higher price.

OK, so that's it for 2018. Now it's time for us all - like this Underwood and the cicada - to shed our wrinkled, crusty old skins and start anew, freshly invigorated for 2019. So here's to a chirping New Year to all my remaining Typospherian friends. 


Bill M said...

Great work on the Universal! It is beautiful!
First time I've seen those rainbow ribbons. I'll need to get at least one.

Hope you and yours have a wonderful New Year.

Blank said...

Great work, Robert, as usual. Thank you. Have a Happy New Year! -- Michael Höhne, uSA

Richard P said...

You did a beautiful job on the typewriter. I like the rainbow ribbon, and am also simply impressed that an amateur has figured out how to take a ribbon that was not intended for typewriters and ink it in a durable way. This is encouraging for the future of our movement.

Rodja Pavlik said...

Uh... I want this ribbon. I remember Luke Winter - I backed one of his crowdfunding-projects.

Mark Adams said...

What an extraordinary concept. Poetry... typewriter art... how such a ribbon would appeal to a modern typist. I would like to get one.