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Help build a giant typewriter that's big enough to climb on for FIGMENT Boston and Burning Man 2015!
Help build a giant typewriter that's big enough to climb on for FIGMENT Boston and Burning Man 2015!
76 backers pledged $6,121 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$6,121

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Thank you for the outpouring of support! $5000 was the bare minimum we needed to complete this project, and it seems likely that we will reach that goal. But there is much more we can do to make this project amazing - so we are setting stretch goals to help us make this project even better!

Stretch Goal #1: $6000 ($1000 over our funding level). An artist who is a professional frame restorer at a major Boston museum has joined our team and is going to recreate the gold leaf shown in the image below! Even if we don't use real gold, metal leaf is expensive and we will need additional supplies. Help us make this machine even more beautiful!

Help us get the words "Blunderwood Portable" in giant gold (or fake gold) leaf on the front of our typewriter!
Help us get the words "Blunderwood Portable" in giant gold (or fake gold) leaf on the front of our typewriter!

Stretch Goal #2: $8000 ($3000 over funding level) - a projector and electronics upgrade! Illuminating a 9'x16' screen takes some serious lumens. Meeting this goal will help us beef up our electronics and buy a stronger projector with a better lens so our projections will really pop.

Original story below: 

Our project is inspired by the nearly 100-year old story of Archy and Mehitabel. Archy was a free verse poet reincarnated in the body of a cockroach, and Mehitabel was the alley cat who was his freewheeling companion.  The story was originally run in the NY Sun as a column by Don Marquis.  Each night, Marquis would leave a sheet of paper in his typewriter and Archy would laboriously hop from key to key typing out a poem or a story from his or Mehitabel's daily adventures.

The first drawing of Archy, circa 1922
The first drawing of Archy, circa 1922

The newspaper column was hugely successful and eventually led to a series of books, a broadway musical, an animated film, and even a 1970s folk song. Today, the memory of Archy and Mehitabel has largely faded from American pop culture, but the essence of Archy - his burning need to create and share, in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles - still rings true. Just as importantly, his ruminations on human nature, on the nature of creativity, and the follies of politics also stand the test of time.

Our crew at the end of our first build weekend
Our crew at the end of our first build weekend

In homage to Archy and Mehitabel, we are creating a giant 24:1 scale replica of a 1920's era Underwood Standard Portable typewriter. At this scale, people will be the size of cockroaches and we will need to jump from key to key to type out each line. Each day, we will place a new poem in the paper tray, printed beforehand on 16' wide vinyl billboard. Some of these poems will be by Archy, others will be new work created especially for the event. The project will displayed at FIGMENT Boston July 25-26 and at Burning Man August 30-September 5.

Our model typewriter could be yours!
Our model typewriter could be yours!

At night, the sculpture will transform into a working keyboard, with the poems replaced by a projection screen. As people move around the luminous keyboard, their letter presses will be projected onto the screen. Their words will be writ large on the paper, and only through collaboration will they be able to achieve capital letters and special symbols, niceties unavailable to poor Archy.

An early prototype of one of our keys
An early prototype of one of our keys

This project excites us not only for the sheer scale of building such a monumental device, but for the reaction that typewriters engender in people. The typewriter is quite literally a blank slate for anyone to project their words. It is a device of such universality that it needs no explanation, and it ties together our favorite elements of public art: spontaneous creative expression, collaboration, whimsy, and just a hint of danger. 

One of our kickstarter prizes: letterpressed poetry!
One of our kickstarter prizes: letterpressed poetry!

Building a project of this scale and shipping it from Boston to Nevada and back is no easy feat. Our budget includes:

  • Typewriter Structure $5,500
  • Shade/Deco $1,900
  • Poems $3,600
  • Electric/Lighting $8,100 
  • Transportation $9,500
  • Grand total $28,600
This logo will adorn many of our rewards!
This logo will adorn many of our rewards!

We have raised over $20,000 so far, including a generous grant from Burning Man, but we still need your help to get us the rest of the way there. 

Learn more about the project at www.blunderwood.com or www.facebook.com/blunderwoodportable. 

Thank you for your support!

Risks and challenges

We have the basic structure nearly complete but we still have to design the projection screen mount and complete the design of the keyboard and interface. The larger challenges will be in shipping the piece and assembling it on playa.

To ensure that the project will be successful no matter what, we have devised a number of backup plans. These include shipping alternate keyboards in case there is a fault with the sensors in the big keyboard, shipping out extra lumber to make any necessary repairs or adjustments to the structure, and bringing out oodles of spares. We also have backup plans to hand-letter the poems in case our giant letterpress doesn't work out.

No matter what happens, we'll make sure this typewriter gets built for Burning Man!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Postcard from the playa! Get a custom-designed, hand-signed thank-you postcard, complete with playa dust, mailed to you from beautiful Black Rock City, NV. Plus you'll get a thank-you on our website/facebook.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Sticker, pin, and a shoutout! Get a custom Blunderwood sticker and matching pin and a thank you on our website and/or facebook page!

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    Ala's hand-sewn goodies! Project member Ala Solsvig has special ordered some typographically-inspired fabric and will be sewing up coasters (set of 6), napkins (set of 6), oven mitts (single mitt) or small pillows (single pillow). Specify your choice by email after ordering. Also includes a sticker, pin, and a shoutout!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Dress to impress in our custom t-shirt! T's will be printed on American Apparel 50/50 shirts that fit perfectly and feel great, emblazened with our logo. Also includes a sticker, pin and a shoutout.

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    Pledge $85 or more About $85

    Bundle #1! Get the sticker, pin, postcard, hand-sewn goodies of your choice, and a t-shirt. Also includes your name on the website or facebook page.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A (used) key from the typewriter! Our keys are 13.5" in diameter and 1.5" thick and come attached to a 1.25" floor flange for mounting on readily available black iron plumbing pipe. Hang it on your wall or make your own bar stool. Keys are edge-lit with white LED's, including wires and button sensor. Our choice of letter, number, or symbol. Sorry, no international shipping due to size/weight. Also includes sticker, pin, and shoutout.

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    Stay warm in our custom hoodie! These soft, not-too-heavy Next Level hoodies will be adorned with our the Blunderwood logo. Also includes a sticker, pin, postcard, and a shoutout.

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    Pledge $175 or more About $175

    We are excited to offer a limited number of hand-made letterpress poster-size prints by Mitchel Ahern. Each print was custom made on his giant show press and features an image of a cockroach and the full text of the archy and mehitabel poem "ghosts." These are absolutely stunning. Also includes sticker, pin, postcard, and a shoutout.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Get a signed copy of Karen Christian's book "The Jewelry of Burning Man." The book itself was a successful kickstarter project last year and is packed with gorgeous images of gift jewelry from burns past. Also includes a sticker, pin, t-shirt, and shoutout on our site.

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    Bundle #2! Get the sticker, pin, postcard, hand-sewn goodies from Ala, t-shirt, poster, and the book! Only one of these bundles is available due to the limited nature of the books and posters.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Type writer strike key pillows hand made by Lark! These are oblong pillows, approximately 8 by 24 inches, hand appliqued with either a single letter in upper and lowercase or a number and a symbol, in reverse, just like the strike key on a typewriter. The applique is dark grey on a light grey sateen background. "Blunderwood Typewriter, 2015" and the Burning Man symbol hand embroidered on the back. The pillows are stuffed with hypoallergenic new fiber. Support your back or neck in serif style. Each pillow will require approximately 10 hours of craftsmanship! Comes with sticker, pin, postcard, t-shirt, and shoutout.

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    Your very own 1920's era Underwood Portable Typewriter! This beautiful machine has been professionally restored by Cambridge Typewriter and works flawlessly. This is one of the typewriters we modeled the big typewriter on. Comes in the original carrying case (in somewhat poor condition, unlike the typewriter it's been protecting for 90 years). We'll toss in a key, a hoodie or t-shirt (your choice), sticker, pin, postcard, and of course a huge shoutout!

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    The ultimate vanity press! We'll use our giant letterpress to make a poem of your choice (or possibly a wedding proposal!) for display in the desert. Must fit onto our 9'x16' vinyl sheets (50-100 words) and be noncommercial. After the event, we'll send you the giant poem! Also includes sweatshirt, hand-sewn goodies, sticker, and a mega shoutout on the website.

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Funding period

- (30 days)