I turned my bluetooth keyboard into a typewriter.
Yes, you read that right. I have taken my perfectly good bluetooth keyboard and turned it into a typewriter cosplay. In other words, I’m back, and I’ve brought another unnecessarily complicated craft with me.
When I was a child my mother would take me to local thrift shops all across Orlando, Florida. One thing they all had in common was that the books/stationary section of each store (often found in the back) always had a small stack of typewriters. One shop in particular had a whole palette of them. To 6-year-old me, the stack looked tall enough to touch the ceiling.
I begged for a typewriter. Begged. But my mother always shot me down. Why would I want such an obsolete machine? Who even uses those anymore? What am I going to do when it runs out of ink or needs repairs? All very valid points, and my sadness was easily quelled by a new Barbie from the $1 bin. But the need for a typewriter never completely left, only went into hibernation.
The desire came back full-force during the pandemic. I was at 1810 Ojeman, an eclectic dive bar in Spring Branch with stellar owners and a down-to-earth clientele. I sat at a table for once (usually I opt for the bar) and was immediately taken by the old typewriter placed as a centerpiece.
I swiped away the other knick knacks, then spent a few hours ignoring my friends as I played with the typewriter, googled typewriter repair videos and tinkered until each key worked, then began fervently researching typewriter prices. My boyfriend somehow convinced me not to spend hundreds of dollars then and there in the impulse purchase of the century, but the itch was back. I NEEDED a typewriter.
After sleeping on it, I no longer felt the uncontrollable urge to buy a typewriter, but I still wanted one. However, I have to admit the idea was impractical. I’m a fast typer, which often results in a plethora of typos. I also need to be able to send my work to others for edits of class submissions. Additionally, I prefer to journal by hand. When would I use my typewriter? It broke my heart. I typed every single day, both for my chosen profession and for class, yet I could not find a place in my life for a typewriter.
I type every day. On a keyboard.
My posture is good, but I suffer from some neck pain. Working on a laptop, I’m always looking down at my screen. Because of this, I’d recently decided to buy a separate mouse and keyboard so I could move my laptop to eye level, thus offering my neck some relief. In other words, I was in the market for a keyboard.
(Photo by Cynthia Isabel Zelaya Ordonez)
After browsing the web, I found an inexpensive keyboard with circular keys reminiscent of those found on a typewriter. I ordered it. As it was in the mail, I started sketching, then shopping, for the supplies I would need.
I decided to force my bluetooth keyboard to cosplay as a typewriter, thus making my desire for a typewriter and need for a computer meet and become one. Once my keyboard arrived, it was time to get to work.
(Photo by Cynthia Isabel Zelaya Ordonez)
The first thing I did was attach some stickers to cover up the keys. I went for a gold theme, imitating the metal keys of yesteryear, featuring a font that mimicked that of old typewriters. I only covered the letters and numbers, as I’m assuming typewriters don’t have a control or backspace key.
Next came the hard part; building the base.
I’ll admit I kind of cheated on this step. I wasn’t in the mood to build a box from scratch (mostly because the people at Home Depot can be a little mean when I show up in heels with a sweater-wearing dog asking to have some wood cut to very specific shapes/sizes… and I have a tendency to be mean right back). So I went to my local craft store and bought a wooden box just big enough to fit my keyboard.
After some careful measurements, I made the initial cuts, leaving the box open on the top half, but leaving some of the lid for later. Then I started carving away at the edges until it fit and held the keyboard perfectly.
Next, I sanded down my edges and added some wood glue to the lid, preventing the box from ever opening on its hinges again.
My desk has a black/white/gold theme going on. Naturally, I proceeded to paint my box black. After applying and drying to layers of paint, I started to work on decor.
The corners were easy enough. All they required were a few strategically-placed stickers. I also wanted some fancy French molding. I didn’t have any pieces , but I did have a silicone mold that had a few designs that would fit quite nicely. I made a gold piece out of epoxy, deciding it would be a perfect little centerpiece for the top of the typewriter.
As you may have noticed, typewriters have additional hardware on the sides. There’s a knob that moves mapper in and out of the machine, and there’s a little lever that moves the position of the paper horizontally. I had no need for them, but it wouldn’t look quite like a typewriter if I were to skip it. So I made some fake hardware out of popsicle stickers and a water bottle cap, then spray painted them gold before gluing them onto the box. Once I was satisfied with the appearance, I drenched my project in glossy mod podge. I’m sure there’s better ways to finish painted wood and stickers, but I’ve been a die-hard mod podge fan since my first bottle cap necklace project, and I won’t stop now.
Once everything was nice and dry, I gave it a final wipedown, then gently set my keyboard into the box. It was beautiful.
Taking a few steps back, it really did look like a typewriter on my desk. Never had I been more excited to write a research proposal.
And that concluded the saga of me wanting a typewriter for most of my life. It’s not exactly what I dreamed of. If anything, It’s better. Functional, beautiful, and made by my own two hands.