Vintage typewriters are making a comeback. These old-school writing machines have a certain retro charm that appeals to writers and hobbyists alike. With some creativity, vintage typewriters can be used in fun new ways beyond just typing letters and documents. Here are some innovative ideas to get the most out of your vintage typewriter.
Use it as Decor
Vintage typewriters make great decorative accent pieces. Place one on your desk or bookshelf to add an old-world aesthetic. You can also display your typewriter proudly on a stand or mounted shelf. Some creative ways to showcase your typewriter decoratively include:
- Arrange it with books, candles, and other writing accessories for a cozy study vignette.
- Create a mini office nook with your typewriter as the centerpiece. Add a chair, letter organizer, and desk lamp.
- Feature your typewriter in a shadowbox frame with printed quotes about writing.
- Paint or decoupage the exterior of a non-working display typewriter for interesting visual effects.
Craft Custom Cards and Letters
Put your typewriter to work creating personalized mail and greeting cards. Here are some ideas:
- Type thank you notes on letterhead designed to match your typewriter’s era.
- Use colored or patterned ribbons to make your typed envelopes and letters more distinctive.
- Produce party invitations with matching RSVP postcards.
- Type poems, quotes or short stories on cards to accompany gifts.
- Design custom notecards with your contact info to write friends and family.
The retro look of typed correspondence makes any message more meaningful.
Label and Tag Items
Vintage typewriters can add nostalgic flair to labels, tags and packaging. Type up:
- Custom luggage tags for gifts or travel items.
- Price tags for baked goods, crafts or antique shop items.
- Botanical or garden labels for plants and planters.
- Parcel tags for specialty gift wrap packages.
- Bookplates for your personal library or individual book gifts.
- Wine, food or candy labels for homemade edibles.
Getting creative with labels makes organization and gifts more special.
Showcase Typewritten Menus
Restaurant menus hand-typed on vintage typewriters can lend an extra dash of nostalgic character. Some fun ways to implement typed menus include:
- Feature a different vintage typewriter every month. Display it by the host stand with its typed menu.
- Type up daily specials on index cards placed in tabletop frames.
- For holidays or themes, decorate typed menus with illustrations or objects related to the event.
- Make a signature cocktail menu typed with a colored ribbon.
- Frame and exhibit an ornate vintage menu as art in your establishment.
The retro menus will delight guests and become conversational pieces.
Create Typewriter Art
Vintage typewriters can be used to produce one-of-a-kind word art. Interesting typewriter art ideas include:
- Typing poems, lyrics or literary passages in creative shapes and layouts.
- Overlaying typed text on photographs or prints for mixed media collages.
- Typing names, dates and words on blank canvasses to make textual abstract art.
- Using varied fonts, colors and textures like carbon paper for artistic effects.
- Filling shapes outlined with typewritten words to make typographic line drawings.
Let your typewriter inspire your inner artist!
Host a Type-In Event
Organize a community event where people bring and use vintage typewriters. Type-ins are social gatherings great for typing clubs or interest groups. Ideas include:
- Set up an open-air type-in at a park or public place where passersby can join.
- At a type-in, provide fun typing activities like stories, poems or letter writing.
- Host type-in tournaments for speed typing or typing accuracy. Give prizes!
- Rent or provide typewriters for an admission fee so anyone can participate.
- Offer typewriter maintenance workshops and display typewriter collections.
Type-ins celebrate vintage typewriters and keep the art alive.
Vintage typewriters will never go out of style. With some vision and ingenuity, there are so many creative ways to use these old writing machines. Trydecorating with them,crafting custom projects, making art or hosting clever events. However you bang out new ideas, vintage typewriters deliver nostalgia, charm and hands-on creativity.
Frequently Asked Questions About Vintage Typewriters
What are the most popular vintage typewriter models?
Some of the most popular vintage typewriter models include the Underwood, Remington, Olivetti, Smith-Corona and Royal typewriters. The Underwood 5, Remington Noiseless Portable, Olivetti Lettera 22, Smith-Corona Silent-Super and Royal KMM are especially coveted among typewriter collectors and enthusiasts.
Where can I buy ribbon for old typewriters?
You can find new and old stock typewriter ribbons online through specialty retailers like RibbonOnTypewriter.com, USB Typewriter Ribbon, and Ribbons Unlimited. Make sure you know your typewriter model so you get the right ribbon size. You may also be able to find usable vintage typewriter ribbons on eBay, Etsy or antique stores.
How do you fix stuck keys on manual typewriters?
Use sewing machine oil applied with a cotton swab or small brush to lubricate stuck typebars and keys. Move the key and typebar gently to work the oil and loosen them up. Try not to force anything. For stubborn stuck keys, you may need to take the typewriter to a repair shop for service. Be very gentle when manipulating parts on vintage typewriters.
Can you still get parts for old typewriters?
Yes, there are suppliers that still carry some parts for vintage typewriters, especially popular professional models. Try Typewriter Parts Company, Typewriter Parts LLC, and eBay sellers offering typewriter parts. You can also find used parts from non-working donor machines. Options are limited for the most obscure typewriter models though.
What is the best way to clean an old typewriter?
Use a soft brush or compressed air to remove dust and debris from the exterior. Gently clean keys and typebars with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Never immerse the typewriter in water. Oil moving parts very sparingly with sewing machine oil. Avoid over-oiling. You can hire a professional to fully disassemble and expertly clean the entire typewriter if needed.
Can you convert an old typewriter into a computer keyboard?
Yes, it is possible to modify a manual typewriter into a computer keyboard by installing electronic components that connect the typewriter keys to a USB converter. This is an advanced electronics project that requires expert technical skills. Companies like Qwerkywriter also sell modern typewriters with integrated mechanical keyboards.
Vintage typewriters offer a tangible, screen-free writing experience that never goes out of style. With creative thinking, they can be utilized in many fun new ways as decorative objects, tools for DIY projects, art canvasses, event centerpieces and more. Keep the nostalgic spirit of typewriters alive by finding innovative ways to use them as part of contemporary life. Just a simple vintage typewriter and imagination can produce beautiful results.