Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Product Review: We R Memory Keepers Typewriter

Oh what a moral dilemma I faced when I strolled through Michaels and instantly fell in love with this retro-looking typewriter made by We R Memory Keepers.  The source of my dilemma?  I already have a vintage typewriter that I inherited from my dad (1940's era) and am not the type of person to drop $200 on a spontaneous purchase, especially since I already have a cool old typewriter!  But I liked the We R typewriter enough to do some research.  I have no affiliation with We R Memory Keepers and this post is simply what I learned when I compared a real vintage typewriter and the new We R Memory Keepers typewriter.  Maybe this info will come in handy for others out there who are wondering if this new typewriter is worth the investment or not-- especially if you already own a vintage typewriter.

Logistical info about the We R typewriter: it comes in black or pink (the pink is very subtle- more like a slightly peachy-pink blush tone), it's apparently an "exclusive" Michaels item and it retails for $199.99.  I found mine easily in a brick and mortar store, though it's also available online.  In addition to the typewriter, you can buy color/black combo ink ribbon spools that you can swap in and out of the machine (pink, teal, red, etc.).

One of the first things I wanted to compare was how the fonts looked between the We R typewriter and a vintage one.  I was surprised to see that the font of the We R machine was bigger and the words were more spaced out than how my old school Smith-Corona types.  Here are two sections I typed so you can see the difference for yourself (and yes- I know I misspelled "typewriter" in the first example.  It had been a long day and I had a two-year old yanking on my pant leg in dire need of fruit snacks at the time-- don't judge me)!

This was quite a difference!  This example is magnified to show detail, but the font on the Smith-Corona is so small in real life that it's kind of hard to read.  I liked that the We R font was bigger and more clear.  The We R typewriter comes with a black/red ink ribbon, so you can type in either color without having to change the ribbon.  Just like on a vintage typewriter, you just flip a switch to choose which color you want to type with.

Another difference I saw was that the We R typewriter has more keys than my vintage typewriter.  My vintage one doesn't have fractions, the number 1 (I guess you're supposed to use a lower case L for that) or even an exclamation point.  As you can see here, the We R keyboard has a lot of handy keys, including the British pound symbol.  It has an "automatic" button down by the space bar that, when pushed, makes the spacing go machine-gun fast even though the entire typewriter is manual (no cords, no electricity).

Another nice feature about the We R typewriter is that We R has produced several appealing black/color combo inks to use in it, as pictured below.  These inks are $9.99 for one set.  I was worried that if I bought the We R typewriter, I wouldn't be able to find ink for it if they ever stopped making it.  But its ink spool holders are standard-sized, so any brand of ink will work with it. Conversely, I tried my We R ink spools in my vintage machine and they worked great!  So I was able to type in color on my vintage machine.  This means that if you're wanting to buy the We R machine simply to be able to type in color, it isn't necessary.  A quick browse through Amazon showed me that other companies already make colored ink ribbons that fit in standard-sized vintage machines.

Lastly, the We R typewriter can accommodate 12x12 paper whereas my vintage typewriter isn't that wide.  So if you want to type on your layout, this machine will allow you to do that.  Keep in mind, however, that if you mis-type, there's no going back!  There's no delete button here, so your typo will remain forever and always on that gorgeous layout.  I don't mind the look of messy grungy typing, but some people might.

From this list, you can see that there are some absolutely great features about this new We R typewriter.  But there were also a couple of drawbacks.

One reality is that the We R typewriter takes a good bit of muscle to type on!  Maybe I'm lazy from being raised in the computer keyboard era, but the We R typewriter keys are even harder to strike than the keys on my vintage machine.  In addition, I'm a speedy typist and found that I really had to slow down or multiple keys would fly up at once and get stuck.  This happens with my vintage machine, too, but the We R typewriter's keys really require some oomph to press.  They're not impossible to press, but they're not as easy to strike as I hoped they would be.

A final consideration is the quality of construction.  I probably sound like a crusty 90-year-old, but hardly anything is made with the same level of quality as things from "yesteryear."  While the We R machine seems relatively solid, the casing is still plastic.  My Smith-Corona is hard core metal which has withstood decades of use and neglect.  The We R machine, while fine by today's standards, is simply never going to hold up to the same quality level of my vintage one.  The spools of ink are plastic for the We R typewriter, whereas even the spools on my vintage typewriter are metal.  I also felt like the ink spools on my vintage machine held a lot more ink ribbon than the We R ink spools.

When it comes right down to it, I think the only real deciding factor between the We R typewriter and a real vintage one is if you like the bigger font style of the We R machine and if you want to be able to fit 12x12 paper through the roller. 

In summary, here is a list of reasons you should buy the We R typewriter and why you shouldn't, especially if you already have a vintage machine.

Why You Should Buy the We R Typewriter
  • If you like the vintage look and don't already have a vintage typewriter, it's nice to get a brand new one that you know is going to work.  You also know where/when it was made so you have a company to contact if any issues arise.
  • If you want a cute pink typewriter, this one is still cheaper than a "real" vintage pink typewriter which may or may not work.
  • The font is slightly bigger and more clearly spaced than the font my vintage typewriter produced, which makes it easier to read.
  • It can accommodate 12x12 paper.
  • It has a lot more handy keys (fractions, pound symbol, etc.) than my vintage typewriter.
  • Its ink ribbons are standard-sized so you can buy fun colors of We R ink for it or buy other companies' ink.
Why You Shouldn't Buy the We R Typewriter (Especially if You Already Have a Vintage One)
  • Vintage typewriters can also type with colored ink if you find standard-sized ink ribbon spools for your machine.
  • The We R typewriter's keys are harder to strike than my vintage machine's keys.
  • The quality of a vintage machine (all metal parts) will always be superior to something manufactured these days out of plastic.
  • Unless you plan to type on 12x12 paper for layouts, you don't really need a wider paper opening.  Vintage typewriters still allow you to easily type on envelopes, labels, Project Life cards, etc.
  • Typewriters take up a lot of prime real estate on your desk, especially if you already have one.
  • No matter how you slice it, $200 is a good chunk of change to spend on a crafty machine.
Well, fellow craft enthusiasts, I hope you've found this post helpful as you try to answer the eternal question we all face: to buy or not to buy?  Just know there's no judging here and I support you either way!

Monday, August 22, 2016

My Other Creations: Fancy Fabric Fish

For this week's Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge theme, which is "Go Fish," I decided to whip out the sewing machine and make some fabric fish.  I can't follow a pattern to save my life (too much like math...or hieroglyphics perhaps?), so I just free-styled these with a hand-drawn fish template that I traced onto fabric and sewed around.

 One of my favorite crafty techniques is to stamp onto fabric.  On the "joy" fish, which started out as white fabric, I stamped the tail with a Writer's Block stamp from ArtFoamies.  I added numbers from Tim Holtz's Sideshow set and the flowers on all three fish are Prima Documented flowers which I've added ink to.  I also smudged Distress ink on the fish's body using Picked Raspberry, Squeezed Lemonade and Ripe Persimmon.  I added some background Washi tape for the stripes and for the Joy sentiment.

On the "grateful" fish, I used Tim Holtz's dictionary fabric, but I turned it inside out for a more subtle pattern.  I stamped additional patterns onto the fabric using Dina Wakley's Scribbled Text set.  I used Distress Ink in Twisted Citron and Peacock Feathers to add more color to the fabric and stamped a piece of fabric with pink polka-dots.  The sentiment and stripes are Washi tape.

 The third fish, "love," is made the same way.  I started with white fabric and added Distress Ink in Salty Ocean, Shaded Lilac and Wilted Violet.  I stamped the fabric with Dina Wakley's Borders stamp set and My Favorite Things' Whimsical Wishes.  The sentiment and stripes are Washi. 

For each of my fish, I drew the eyes on white fabric with a Sharpie pen.  I glued everything together using Aleene's Turbo Tacky Glue.  People ask me what type of ink is best to use on fabric.  For fabric you won't be washing that's decorative only (like these fish), I don't care much which ink I use.  But if I'm stamping on clothing or something I'll need to wash, I like to use Memento Luxe ink, which is fabric-safe.  You do still have the "set" the ink by ironing the stamped fabric before washing, but it works well and maintains its colors nicely.

As for these little fishies, I made them a nice tin to rest in while they wait for their next adventure!

Here is a visual list of the main supplies I used:

You can get these fabulous supplies from Simon Says Stamp:

I am excited to see your interpretation of "Go Fish"!  Be sure to upload your projects to the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge Blog to inspire the rest of us and to give yourself a shot at winning the $50 voucher to the Simon Says Stamp store!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Tutorials: Reading Journal Using the Pinkfresh Bibliophile Stamp Set

This week's theme at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge is "Summer Fun."  In case you don't know yet how nerdy I am, let me confirm it with this post!  One of my favorite parts of summer has always been reading!  When I was in school growing up, summer meant the freedom to read whatever I wanted instead of what was assigned in school.  As an adult, there's nothing better than having a good book along on a road trip or vacation.  And since I can't remember everything I read, I decided to make a Reading Journal to record and rate the books I read.

I wanted to try and make this out of an already-existing notebook, so here's how I did it.  I started out with a notebook and the Pinkfresh Bibliophile stamp set.

I tore out one of the inner pages and traced it onto a piece of thick white paper that I wanted to use for the cover. 

I glued the white paper onto a thick piece of chipboard, then used my Crop-A-Dile to punch out the holes.  Using my fingers, I smeared acrylic paint in streaks and smudges onto my cover.

While the paint dried, I stamped the book info/rating stamp (also from the Bibliophile stamp set) onto every single page.  Yep.  Every.  Single.  Page.  Monotony factor?  About 715.

Back to the cover!  I used one of my favorite go-to Tim Holtz dies, Trellis, to create a pattern in the background.  I smeared on some Distress Ink to add color pops here and there and the Trellis framework was cut out of Simon Says Stamp dictionary paper.

I created the central image by cutting a hole in a library due-date card (thanks, Mimi!!) and I added a Seth Apter Ring Around die ring around it.  I also stamped a faux-stitched black circle inside using Simon's Sparkle and Shine stamp set.  I added a circle of color back to the middle and threw in another circle embellishment from Simon's Loop die set.  I completed it with the "Carpe Librum" sentiment, also stamped with the Bibliophile set.

You know I love me some bright colors, but I was feeling like this had too much of a Christmas vibe, so I toned the whole thing down by smearing white paint over a lot of the high-color areas.

And last but not least.  How to attach the cover to an already-bound notebook?  I cut horizontal snips from the edge of the cover to each hole, then simply maneuvered it back through the spiral binding.  This is an inside view (I covered the back of the chipboard with patterned paper- the cover I made is on the other side).

Just to make extra sure that the cover would stay in place, I dabbed glue along the horizontal snips where I'd cut.  Once the glue dried, it was quite secure.  You could also just glue the whole thing on top of the existing cover, which would've been a great idea, but since the notebook I'd bought had a plastic cover, I wasn't sure how well the glue would work.  But my method filled the bill and I think the end product is solid!

For all you visual learners out there, here's a pic that shows where I used which products:

 And here are the links to the products I used that you can find at Simon Says Stamp:

I'm excited to see what you do for summer fun!  Be sure to upload your projects to the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge Blog for your chance to win a $50 voucher to the Simon Says Stamp Store.