Hunt and peck ing
An interview with the indomitable, highly mechanically inclined Sarah Ann (32) of SarahAnntiques on etsy and, more locally, in Kansas, inspired by the appearance of this typewriter in her shop. Conducted via many convos and edited with the aid of extremely potent Valentine's Day chocolates.

1920s green woodgrain finish underwood, sarahanntiques
So, Sarah Ann of Kansas and etsy, owner of SarahAnntiques and I don't know how many typewriters. How do you know so much about typewriters anyway?
I guess I have always loved typewriters. I used to use a Underwood #5 at home when I was a kid. That is the only thing that my mom used until she got an electric machine and then the old Underwood was mine! I used to type silly notes on it. When my baby brother was a toddler he crept in and played with it and actually got the ribbon out and somehow wrapped it all around his neck. My mom almost had a heart attack when she found him. I am not sure if she was more concerned that he might have strangled himself or that he was completely covered in inky grime. She scrubbed and scrubbed that poor boy's neck until it was red and the rest had to wear itself off. So, I always give a disclaimer to parents who are buying these machines for kids...keep them away from the ribbons.
Got it. My dogs pin their ears at the sound of the Underwood I have, clacking away. So no chance of their messing with ribbons. Finally, dogproof vintage. Anyway:
I went for many years without thinking about typewriters until I was an adult and we bought a farmhouse and guess what they left me? A Royal KMM, which brought it all back. It was meant to be. I started collecting and collecting, and then had to start selling because I was out of room. I also became so obsessed with repairing and fixing them. More on that soon. And by the way, I don't think that people in this town even know my actual name. They just call me Crazy Typewriter Lady. 
Before I get into the whole typewriter phenomenon, in which you roam the state of Kansas armed with unstoppable typewriter radar, where do you live and, kind of, how?
I am the busy mom of a 10-year-old daughter who is a dancing queen (ballet, tap, jazz, and hiphop), and a violin, guitar and piano playin' wannabe junk lady. She occasionally sells her wares in my shop. My husband is a self employed farmer, so I am a busy farm wife. [ed.'s note: "busy" used twice without any encouragement from me.] We farm several of our own acres and then do custom harvesting for a few other farmers. Antiquing and etsy allow me the freedom to work in the off seasons. During harvest, I drive the tractor and follow the combines around with the grain cart, and then load the semis with grain so that they can head to the elevator. Then I am as referred to as the "lunch lady." We plant and harvest wheat, corn, milo, soybeans, and sunflowers. And when, I am not farming or etsying I can be found making jewelry or mixed media for a local art gallery. 

Planting soybeans in Kansas, daughter walking, sky being big, husband probably driving.
And there's the typewriters. 
 I love typewriters. I really do. My favorite of all time is a pink Royal. When I found it, I almost shrieked I was so excited. It's hanging up on my wall now.

The pink Royal hanging on the wall from heavy duty nails rated for 75 lb pictures.
And how did you learn to fix them? It's one thing to buy things like typewriters. So often they're listed with squeaky little caveats like, 'could certainly use a repair or two…' But knowing how to roll up your sleeves and really get into it, that's something else. 
Years ago I checked out a book from the library on typewriter repair. And some of how I learn is from the trial and error of working on my own machines.  I found myself still wanting to learn more, so I started taking some of my machines to a 92 year old typewriter repairman, Alex. He's been in the business for 50 years and seemed to tolerate me pretty well.  I started hanging out with him as much as I could, trying to learn everything I could possibly learn from him. Because these repairmen are getting to be fewer and farther between. And he's taught me how to do some of the repairs myself. If I can't do it, he does it. Now I even buy broken machines and save them for parts. But I'm not as bad as Alex — yet. He has 200 typewriters in his basement. 

The hands of a master typewriter repairwoman.
Where do you work on them, and with what? I can imagine you in a shed surrounded by mechanical parts and little tools and cans of secret formula oil. 
Actually, the repair work takes place in my dining room at home, on pink Styrofoam mats right on the dining room table. Some days when I'm feeling frisky I might have as many as five or six typewriters going at once, all in different stages of repair.
   In terms of oil, I don't want to give away my trade secrets, but you have to be very careful about the kinds of oil you use. Some of them collect dust in a hurry and can harm more than help — nothing worse than gunky oil. And I have some favorite tools that my husband bought me for Christmas one year. I'm not really sure how old they are. I have to say that I was, at first, severely disappointed to receive such an unromantic gift from him. I mean, tools? But it turned into one of the best gifts ever. I also find myself using my jewelry tools, as they are small enough to fit in really tight spaces. 
This green woodgrain Underwood is the most amazing machine. How, and where did you find it? Did it just appear like a grail? Was it buried under a mound of old newspapers, calling to you in typewriterspeak? 
The truth is, I can spot a typewriter anywhere, and I'm always excited when I approach one. I even recognize a typewriter case  — I can tell you what brand it is even before I open it. And when I buy a really great one, like this one, I almost feel like I could dance and skip right out the door.

Another view of the Underwood.
I found this machine in an antique shop in a small town in the center of Kansas. The shop is downtown, in an old bank building. It's run by a husband and wife in their 40s or 50s, and I go there often: at least once a week, no matter what. I have made great friends with the owners: the wife taught me how to crochet on my last visit, and the husband always chats with me about anything under the sun for at least 15-20 minutes at the check-out counter. Last time it was all about a Willie Nelson concert that he went to, years ago.
   The typewriter was actually sitting under a table set for four — with 1950s pink milk glass. And underneath that table was a graniteware turkey roaster, a shoeshine kit, and the typewriter. It was filthy, filled with attic dust and grime. I pulled it out — I always try a machine in the shop, just to see what I'm about to deal with. The paper roller wasn't turning, and three of the letters wouldn't strike at all: the A, S and X. I'm assuming that someone had broken the machine, and then didn't want to mess with getting it fixed, so instead they stashed it away in an attic. That's why it was complete with the spool covers and all. Stowing it away helped preserve the machine.
   I just knew I had to take this one home and give it some proper love.  It took several hours of patience and careful cleaning, repairing, and oiling. It is a painstaking process, a labor of love. You get your hands dirty. But now it works great. 
My last question:  what are three of your favorite items on etsy these days?
First, these World War II signal corps phones with TS-9 handsets. 
World War II Signal Corps phones, WellWudjaLookAtThat.
I totally geeked out over those phones because phones are my new love. In October I bought a non-working phone from 1935 and actually pulled an insane diagram off of the internet and spent the evening rewiring it and now it is the best working phone in the house. 

The 1935 phone and the diagram she followed. Piece of cake, Sarah Ann.
Sure, it doesn't offer the modern-day convenience of caller ID. But the sound quality is amazing and the old fashioned rotary phone offers an old-school feel. And the buzzing of the ring tone can not be beat. [ed's note: for more details, read her blog.]  But maybe the old technology with land line capabilities aren't for everyone, and that is why I love the iRetrophone Steampunk. You get the best of both worlds: the old-world look with the new world technology.

iRetrophone in black and gold, freelandstudios.
Third, I also love this print and quote, which about sums up how I feel about working hard: If you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. Conan O'Brien said that.

Work hard be kind print, Ellogovna.



oversized school clock, dogsbody salvage
As in, clock. Looking for one on *tsy I just noticed that the most expensive versions, running, as they say, well into the thousands whether they are running or not, are also the worst photographs. Perhaps up in the modest stratosphere of *tsy-luxe,  photos don't matter. Noone's jockeying for treasuries in that bracket. But none are featured here, because they are trapped inside lurid, flash-bleached, drecky pix. Whereas this version, even though it is not exactly cheap, is reproducible. {Unlike me. Another story. My emotional offspring have a total of 36 legs, 9 tails, 18 ears and 378 teeth (give or take).}

In the olden days they said "tickings" plural. In the newen days we say "ticking" plural. Ticking, now, is a state of mind; a state of being; a hearkening; it implies a softer sense of reverse materialism in its humble weave. That it has become singular in plural form can probably be attributed to Martha Stewart in some way, since noone has been better since her heyday at turning a noun into an adjective and then up into an aspiration.

And speaking of feathers this was supposed to be an apologetic rebuttal to someone who does not believe I have chickens. I have not photographed them. But they do exist. So instead, I give you Xavier, right before he licked the lens of my camera the other day, which prevented me from photographing the chickens. Soon as Dad's shipment of lens cleaner arrives from his laboratory, there will be chickens. For now, there is X. X has an internal clock: when it is Time for Bed, he lets us know with a clear and steady look. He is the King of Dog On Bed. But when a dog can somehow manage to put his arms around you and sigh you to sleep on a deadline night, when the caffeine is bonging and binging around in your head and the words you wrote are threatening to self-delete and rewrite themselves if you so much as look away, he deserves it.



1930s tickings advertisement, dewitt co.

ticking market bag lined in broadcloth by bayousalvage

1930s farmhouse pillow with double cover, luncheonettevintage

1930s farmhouse feather pillow, luncheonettevintage

ticking and buckwheat hull neck support pillow by octavi

vintage ticking bolster by enhabiten

microwaveable ticking pillow by the blackstrap

antique indigo striped ticking, theprimitivehome