Tradional lithography

In Verneuil-en-Halatte we had a friend and artist, Serge Ramond. Later on he would organize a remarkable ‘Graffiti Museum’ at his farm, reproductions of drawings or texts, taken from old buildings, mainly prisons. Serge Ramond owned a very old hand press (the first was built in 1798) a real piece of furniture, work of art made of brass, wood and ropes.Guidi quickly learned to use it.

(Lithography is derived from the Greek word ‘lithos’, stone and written form. Sadly, the word is often wrongly used for simple reproductions.)

The stone being ‘alive’, each lithographic stone has endured, most of the time, several lifes: a number of them carrying Camembert labels at thier sides! So we have to prepare it, giving it back its virginity, as one might say, it one begins drawing with a lithographic pencil made of fat or lampblackl. The stone absorbs the pencil’s fat and retains the ink as it passes through the hand press. The litho pencil shows deep blacks and gives body to the slightest drawing, but impossible to commit a mistake or hesitation: impossible to erase. One really has to have the ability to draw. After the preparation and drawing, one ‘inks’. Then there is that vital, moving moment, where one, the one being me, assists and puts the sheet of paper onto the press. Forbidden to even slightly tremble or make a wrong movement. Equally impressive would be the moment when I had to write legible and in straight lines my poem that corresponded to the sculpture’s drawing, which was the case for most of these tradional ‘lithos’.

Guidi operating the hand press Verneuil-en-Halatte,1983