Mischief always starts with the thrift store

Filed under: Books, Diversions, ephemera — olivander September 4, 2009 @ 9:51 am

Some time back, I found a box of library checkout cards at the thrift store. No sleeves, just the cards. Despite having no idea how I could possibly use them, I bought the box, because you just don’t leave behind something that neat. It went on a shelf upstairs and was largely forgotten.

Then not too far back, Monda posted about her love of old bookplates, a nearly extinct item both in use and the art thereof. And then it hit me.

A long time back, a Flickr friend taught me how to do injet transfers. This is like Polaroid transfers, but without the Polaroid. Here’s how you do it: Take one of those sheets of print-your-own shipping labels and peel off all of the labels, so you have only the blank wax paper-like sheet. Put that sheet in your printer shiny-side up and print on it as if it were glossy photo paper (if your image has text, be sure to flip it before printing, or it will come out backwards). As soon as it comes out of the printer, press a lightly dampened sheet of paper over the image. Pretend you’re lifting a comic strip with Silly Putty (the principles involved are actually nearly identical). After several seconds of pressing, gently lift off the paper. The image should now be transferred onto it.

You may have to experiment with your printer’s brightness and contrast settings and the amount of your paper’s dampness until you hit upon a good combination. For me, the process has been hit-or-miss, I think mostly because I’d previously worked with a notebook of homemade paper. The texture is a bit too rough for a good transfer. Which in fact is why I’d never written in that notebook and chose it for inkjet transfer experiments. Some people say that cheapo ultra-glossy photo paper also works instead of a label sheet, but I’ve had better luck with the label sheet. In theory, heavy wax paper ought to also work, but I haven’t tried it.

After reading Monda’s post, I thought, why not use inkjet transfers to make my own bookplates? Naturally, I was reluctant to risk a nice book for a potential transfer disaster (plus, moisture–on a book?! Never!). But then I remembered that box of library cards upstairs. Voila! Last night I ran off a few, until my label sheet finally crinkled and curled from too many times wiping away the leftover ink. Here are the results:

(Click each to see it larger.)

The one on the left was my first attempt. Too small, but not bad. On the right, we see that Aubrey Beardsley works well for this method, but I evidently neglected to dampen the card enough and lost most of the art deco border.

Here are a couple that I made by altering old typewriter advertisements. The one on the left is from an Adler ad, and Remington on the right. I like these two a lot.

I didn’t insert names into any of them because I figure that it would be more appropriate to type or write one’s name on the card.

So there you have it: DIY bookplates. I think I’ve just given away what a few people are getting for Christmas, but oh, well.

(Just watch. There is probably a small collective of library card collectors who are at this moment calling me a destructive heathen for destroying pristine library cards.)

Dis ‘n’ Dat

Filed under: Books, Errata, Finds — olivander August 17, 2009 @ 10:16 am

Who’d-a thunk?

I picked up an ice crusher at a garage sale this weekend. Been wanting one for a while (a proper mint julep just doesn’t work on the rocks), so I grabbed it without examining it too closely. And whaddya know? It’s a Smith-Corona ice crusher!

Evidently, Proctor-Silex was one of SCM’s kerjillian or so subsidiaries.

Fahrenheit 451–the comic book

File this one under either “Supreme Irony” or “You’ve Got to be Fracking Kidding Me”. Ray Bradbury’s classic novel about the diminishment of the written word as a dumbed-down society stultifies itself on comic books, television and Twittering, has itself been dumbed-down into a comic book graphic novel.

From the article on Slate:

Think back to the original novel. Comic books are the only books shallow enough to go unburned, the only ones people are still allowed to read. Beatty, the fire chief, who seems to have loved books once and whom Bradbury has called “a darker side of me,” explains it all to the hero, Guy Montag, the reluctant fireman. When photography, movies, radio, and television came into their own, he says, books started to be “leveled down to a sort of pastepudding norm.” Burning them isn’t so tragic, he suggests, because they are already so degraded.

But is this new adaptation a diminishment of the original, or a clever subversion of the comic medium? Ideas, after all, transcend the printed format and can be embedded anywhere; it’s how we integrate those ideas with our own intellects once we encounter them that gives ideas importance. Is graffiti on a brick wall any less substantial than a painting in a museum if there is an idea embedded within it?


Our 20-month-old son is addicted to baseball, or “bee-ball!” as he calls it. He demands it from the moment he wakes up till he falls asleep (there have been a few nights when the only way we’ve gotten him in his crib is to leave the TV on Fox Sports North with the sleep timer set). He wakes in the middle of the night asking for bee-ball. He throws just like the pros and mimes the hat-chin-nose signals and the base players’ stances. I’m hoping he doesn’t find the miniature Louisville Slugger factory tour souvenir.

You’d be amazed how often some sort of ball game is on TV–fortunately for the sake of peace and quiet in our house. And fortunately as well, I like baseball (being distantly related to a hall-of-famer, I suspect it’s in my blood). The spousal unit, on the other hand, not so much. But even I am becoming drained of enthusiasm for the Great American Pastime. When I am reduced to watching the Little League World Series while wanting to gnaw my own foot off, I know I’ve had enough.

Admittedly, it’s still better than watching that “Baby Einstein” DVD for the umpteenth time.

Heaven help us when football season starts.

Occupation: Enabler

Filed under: Books — olivander February 16, 2009 @ 4:47 pm

A curious/squicky entry from the 1952 edition of 125 Ways to Make Money with Your Typewriter, by David Seltz.

Make-Believe Social Letters

The Plan
Writing “make-believe” letters to persons anxious to receive correspondence is a novel part-time occupation which is reaping substantial returns for an aggressive young man in Passaic, New Jersey.

How It Works
An aged couple, childless, wanted to receive “typical” letters from a “typical” child attending college; a spinster, denied romance throughout her life, requested “romantic” letters from a mythical lover; another woman desired letters that coached her on social and personal graces; still another person, unsuccessful in self-discipline, wanted letters reprimanding him in a fatherly tone. This correspondence filled certain voids in their lives. He typed the letters and sent them out at intervals, as requested. His customers were secured by placing an advertisement in his local newspaper announcing this unique service. He was surprised at the large number of requests for this “make-believe” correspondence.

Possible Profits
His rates are $3.00 a month, on the basis of a letter each week. With some 37 subscribers, he has been able to earn about $90 a month.

Updike and other dead guys

Filed under: Books, Musings, Typecast — olivander January 29, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

Typewriter: Tower Challenger

In defense of NaNo

Filed under: Books, Rants, Typecast — olivander November 13, 2008 @ 12:25 am

Typewriter: Ulysses, a 1923 L.C. Smith #8

Mansion of Evil

Filed under: Books, Errata, Finds — olivander April 2, 2008 @ 1:29 pm

Mansion of EvilHere is one of those thrift-shop gems that you almost overlook. Mansion of Evil is a very early graphic novel published in 1950. It’s clear that Gold Key wasn’t quite sure how to handle the format (“Something new!”). For one thing, other than Mr Millard, no credits are given at all. There are also no typical copyright and title pages. It is simply 200 pages of comic book sandwiched between two covers, ending as abruptly as it begins.

The story revolves around a woman who is kidnapped by a wealthy artist to cover up the murder of his wife, who the kidnapped woman just happens to look exactly like. The artwork is not bad, and quaintly outdated. Fedoras and streamlined automobiles abound. The women all wear knee-length skirts, and the men all wear suits. The writing is of the best breathless, pulp detective style. In fact, it reads a lot like how a 1950s radio detective show sounds.

Born in Canby, MN, in 1908, Joseph Millard wrote a number of books on all sorts of subjects. Perhaps his best known are his biography of Edgar Cayce and the movie tie-in novelization of at least one of Clint Eastwood’s “man with no name” movies, For a Few Dollars More.