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Lambe Lambe

May 16, 2008

Madrid based street artist El Tono just sent out an announcement about his recent travels in Latin America, including posters he made in Brasil using this traditional Brasilian printing system called Lambe Lambe. His posters are cool, but possibly more exciting is a short movie he linked to that shows the printing process, check it out!!:


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4 comments on “Lambe Lambe”

Wow, that video is really incredible. I love the sounds and the mechanics of it all. There’s something romantic in the relationship of a hand feeding the machine the paper too.
The other thought that crosses my mind is seeing the ink stained hands of that person working, and the solvents involved with the production must be very toxic.
I was talking recently with hobo-filmmaker Bill Daniels about his letterpress posters for the Bozo Texino film. He was telling me of the source of them, a 3rd generation letterpress printmaker in California. Bill spoke about how he has been affected after working decades with the chemicals, and that he only prints on rare occasions.
I don’t know why I mention this specifically. It leads me to thoughts of contrasts/parallels to off-set, or digital printing, and i imagine all of them, regardless of how far the human “hand” is from them, have adverse effects…

it looks like a huge version of the old Vandercook presses I used to do letterpress printing on, with the clips on the cylinder that grab the paper… except on those, the bed of the press (where the type is) did not move, like this one. it was pretty great to print on, & I loved setting type, but with those oil-based inks & accompanying solvents, even after working with them for a short time, I definitely noticed toxic effects on both my hands & respiratory system.
… I’ve found now, after a bunch of years of printing with Speedball Acrylic “non toxic” water-based silkscreen inks, my throat gets irritated after printing for an hour or so, even with good ventilation. (screenprinting, you’re usually standing right over the wet ink, breathing in all the vapors, etc.) I usually do long print runs… which only makes it worse. reading a little bit further, turns out volatile organic compounds make up about an eighth of that ink (by volume). they are in pretty much every kind of paint, pigment, plastic product, etc that we might use, so kind of unavoidable. but now, for screenprinting, I use a respirator…
scary how easy it is to poison yourself, even in the ‘north’ of the world. I used to work at a bakery where, like the printer in kc’s post, the head baker (who was just in his 40s) actually made the bread very rarely, because he had already developed a pretty severe sensitivity to flour…

that is totally an old letterpress!
my friend alisa at third termite in pittsburgh has a similar setup—except yes, the type doesn’t move on her Vandercook. but on old platen presses it does.
a lot of letterpressers now used rubber-based inks which are made of soy, and use veggie oil and vinegar to clean up. we have been experimenting with nontoxic cleanup methods for letterpress, intaglio and litho at AIR, a not-for-profit artist’s printmaking shop where i volunteer.
rad video.

The hand carved type you see in this video is awesome! also used in the old luchador posters from Mexico. A lot of times they are carved right onto thin commercial linoleum and then mounted on wood to make them type-high. That shop looks amazing, I work on a Heidelberg (like the cadillac of letterpresses) and get that industrial sound everyday – would love to be printing my own posters all the time though!
Mary, I’d like to ask you about your non toxic cleanup methods you’ve been experimenting with! I’m so over breathing the Naptha solvents.

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