Mimeographrevival.com is intended to be an information “clearinghouse” of sorts.
It’s (going to be) one-part library with every mimeograph document I find, available to you for download. Most advertisements and promotional materials are, as best I can tell, in the public domain. When relevant, I’m chasing down copyright holders and seeking permission to distribute or use materials for educational purposes. I’ll also be generating a physical collection so that this information exists in more-than-digital form that can be shared even when there’s no electricity or internet. Potentially, the collection will include mimeographed items on a variety of topics mostly determined by my personal interest and likely including nature writing, Western mystery traditions, creativity and creative writing, classical education, appropriate tech and DIY skills building.
It’s also (planned as) one-part resource directory, with links to folks who are engaged with these processes and machines and to sources for further education, experience, and supplies.
In addition, I’ll be documenting my learning curve as I figure out how to get a few machines working. Those of us trying to resuscitate the use of mimeograph machines are going to have to do our own repair work. The typewriter folks have a much easier time of it than we do – the repair expertise still exists; the specialized parts and tools, though no longer being manufactured in most cases, still exist in sufficient quantity and collectors have taken up small-scale manufacturing or tinkering to come up with things like rubber typewriter feet and certain tools. They still have repair manuals. They have a lively community that readily shares techniques and experience.
We’re not so fortunate in terms of printed materials (outside of a few collectors, I hope. I mean, I really hope someone has documentation somewhere!). We’re a scattered bunch of enthusiasts, though it looks like many are connecting up and generating fruitful collaboration. But we’re really out of luck when it comes to parts and supplies and we’re going to be winging it while peering over the shoulders of the antique typewriter and office supply/machine collectors. My intention here is to find out what to look for when scoping out machines in the marketplace, to show that a regular person with no special training can make a go at rehabbing the damaged and rundown machines we do find, and to come up with ways to use mimeographs in spite of the limitations we face. I’ll admit to a pipe dream of hoping to reinvigorate the manufacturing of mimeograph machines – or coming up with DIY builds to accomplish easy, small-scale printing for the average person, group, or community. But that’s a long way out.
Hi, I’m Wendy, a generalist with a long-time love of self-publishing, writing, DIY experimentation, etc., etc. I have very slight mechanical experience: I helped my dad rebuild the steering on my first car (a 1968 Volvo 122S) and I repaired bikes for about half a year – but I’d say I have average aptitude mostly carried by a willingness to try. I still have to hire a handyman for more esoteric home-repair stuff, but at least I can unclog a sink, replace a faucet, change out a light fixture, and build bookshelves. I learned all that in the last five years.
About the time I graduated high school, computers were revolutionizing “desktop publishing.” I missed out on stencil and spirit duplicators though, other than getting worksheet dittos in elementary school. I bridged eras in printing – I wrote my first college papers on a word processor that was a cross between a typewriter, a dot-matrix printer, and a calculator with its miniscule LCD screen, played with desktop publishing in its early phases, but ended up learning letterpress printing because of my fascination with the technology of earlier times. Now, I’m still involved in publishing as an academic copyeditor.
After a long time pining for it, I finally I figured out that a letterpress printshop was not in my or my garage’s future (the amount and weight of the equipment! the cost! the skills I myself have forgotten!), I had a moment where I felt someone take me by my mental lapels, give me a shake, and say “mimeographs, you dingus!”
…the inspiration behind this
Progress ain’t what it’s cracked up to be: libraries are discarding books, even dumping or destroying them; over-reliance on electronics and digitalization create weak links and bottlenecks; and don’t forget about those multiple-week server outages (or stuck container ships) and shortages that affect global shipping and trade. And on top of it, skills are being lost as we collectively turn our gaze toward one speck in one direction of the horizon and forget to consider the options presented by the rest of the circle.
But I’m sure you know all that already.
When you’re standing on the far end of a dark age, I imagine, you might wish someone had thought to preserve some thing, or skill, or technique that would make life easier in your here and now, and you might be really grateful to find some little enclave that has preserved something important that would otherwise have been lost. Whether or not we’re on the near edge of such an age is less important than the recognition that there are some things worth preserving, that it doesn’t matter if the greater culture accuses you of “wanting to live in the past” (why is that anyone’s business anyway?), and that the first steps include collecting what still remains and sharing it widely.
So, that’s what I’m starting with.