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A Wiper for Every Need

kimwipes You know, I started this blog to talk about news and politics. I wasn’t prepared for rude poetry and potty humor. Still, I’m on a roll!


Yeah, look what I found in the back of a drawer today. Kimwipes! We used to buy these by the crate; now this sad, mustly little guy is probably the last of his kind in captivity.

I’ll bet you didn’t know there were different wiping needs, let alone that someone prided himself on being the standard for his particular wiping duty.

Kimwipes were a designer’s essential; they’re hard, lint-free wipes primarily used for mopping excess wax off galley using powerful, braincell-eating film cleaning solvents. If you don’t know what the hell activity I just described, don’t bother learning — the old way of preparing publications for print is never, ever coming back.

Not even after the apocalypse, when we’re running around with mullets and shoulder pads popping caps in each other’s asses.

See, the old photographic processes were extraodinarily complex, sophisticated and expensive. Assembling a magazine required several gigantic specialty cameras, many different kinds of film and papers, all sorts of amusingly lethal chemicals and a thousand little specialty items of no use to anyone else ever again under any circumstances. We had burnishers, waxers, rollers, wipers, technical pens, non-repro pens, markers, swatches, specialty knives of all sorts, registration marks, tracing overlay, illustration board, foamcore in an assortment of colors, lead holders, lead pointers and leads. We had rubylith and amberlith (which we called rubylips and amberlips), the Leroy lettering system, and something we called a Blue Thing, which was a burnishing tool that came inside tubes of 3M photo mounting adhesive but was the best darned all-around essential paste-up burnisher ever.

I can remember six different kinds of tape I couldn’t get through the day without.

Man, sitting here thinking about it, more and more stuff is coming back to me. The specialty furniture, the lighting, the drafting tools, the calculators, the stencils, the Letraset thingies and the Pantone dinguses. And we haven’t even touched on the darkroom stuff yet.

Huh. Not all earth’s vanishing languages are in Siberia or New Guinea.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 2, 2007, 6:39 pm

Every drafting table had a side table called a taboret for holding your coffee cup and ashtray and the little wheelie thing with your tools in it. If anyone said, “put that on my taboret” or “sure, I have one — it’s on my taboret” someone else would pipe up from across the room and say, “life is a taboret.”

It was a house rule.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: October 2, 2007, 7:05 pm

You bring to mind another artistic/drafting environment from the olden days – before Man invented food, I think.

Printed circuit layouts.

The frosted-on-one-side mylar sheet, the tapes of varying widths, the tape dots with the itty bitty hole in ’em. The ovals. The groups of ’em in dual-inline and circular configuration. The stencils of various parts and symbols.

Talk about buggy whips. That is an entire market and manufacturer infrastructure that just went poof. History. Gone.

I occasionally build me a circuit board at home and even I – old fart that I am – don’t use that stuff anymore. I just print the PC CAD board layout on photo paper and iron it onto the copper board. Wash/scrub the photo paper off, and etch, and voila.

Works like a hose, as we used to say.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: October 2, 2007, 7:09 pm

Oh, yeah. I forgot.

Kimwipes. never use them on a runny nose. Unless you have a really BIG nose and want to – y’know – sand it down a bit.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 2, 2007, 7:46 pm

I blowed my nose on a Kimwipe today. I didn’t feel right just…tossing them.

It was not a happy sensation.

Comment from Jessica
Time: October 2, 2007, 8:39 pm

Though I have never worked as a graphic designer, my mother took a design class in art school in the late 70s, and I remember such things. Also, my best friend in college was a graphic design major, and we were the class ON THE FREAKING CUSP of the transition from by hand to by computer. Freshman year I remember hanging out in her studio learning all of the old ways, and by the time we graduated, she had a MAC and I was laying out the school paper on it rather than “mocking up” and getting stoned on rubber cement. Good times.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 2, 2007, 8:50 pm

Rubber cement! You could make pissah fake scars out of rubber cement. The stuff has the peculiar quality that it sticks fabulously well to itself when it’s dry. So if you coat part of your arm with rubber cement, let it dry, then pinch it together clumsily, it looks like a wicked awful scar.

We used to greet new clients like that.

Good times, good times. I started in ’83, we got our first computer in ’85…and we didn’t stop doing manual paste-up until the late ’90s. Our printer told us we were the last shop doing old-fashioned mechanicals.

Comment from TattooedIntellectual
Time: October 3, 2007, 4:47 am

For some reason this reminded me of my neighbors Volvo (I think it was a Volvo) that had wipers for the headlights.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: October 3, 2007, 5:30 am


I read your comment as meaning “having wipers IN PLACE OF headlights”.

I was really, really puzzled for a moment. I kept thinking, “What? Are they intended to wipe away the dark?”

The mental image was strange.

I gotta get some sleep.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: October 3, 2007, 9:27 am

Fuckin’ Scandis, man.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: October 3, 2007, 11:19 am


I just checked google: you’re still first-listed in the peanut lady fuck search. This comment will no-doubt reinforce that standing. You’re welcome!

That’s “cacahuete dama coito” in Swedish, just in case anyone needs it. I almost did earlier, I think.

In French, its “baise de dame d’arachide”, (so says babblefish) in case anyone is entertaining guests today and is at a loss for words.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 3, 2007, 11:33 am

Still on the second page for “supernumery nipple” though.

On a happier note, I found my blue thing!

blue thing

It would appear the proper name for a blue thing is a “P.A.-1.”

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: October 3, 2007, 12:18 pm

Second page still, huh? Damned plate tectonics.

Well, be of good cheer anyway. I read that O.J.’s judge ruled that he has to give up his Rolex to the Goldmans. Its about time.

Can’t say I ever lost my blue thing. But I can sympathize.

Comment from Dawn
Time: October 3, 2007, 12:46 pm

I had to find out what a blue thing was. Did you know it comes in gold? Fancy. http://i22.ebayimg.com/02/i/000/ae/ed/7109_2.JPG

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: October 3, 2007, 1:06 pm

That’s more ‘baby-shit yellow’ than gold. What are those things anyway?

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: October 3, 2007, 1:09 pm

I mean, I know they’re Blue Things or P.A.-1s, but for those of us who aren’t Graphic Designiators: what do they do?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 3, 2007, 1:49 pm

The elements of a publication — type, illustrations and so on — were mostly printed on different kinds of slick photographic paper. Then this paper was run through a roller that put a very thin coating of hot wax on the back. Then, all the components were stuck on big pieces of cardboard. Wax instead of glue, so’s you could pick elements up and move them around until everyone was happy with the layout. When it was good to go, you had to burnish everything down pretty hard so it didn’t move around while the printer handled it.

Everyone had a hard acrylic roller that you were supposed to use for this, but that didn’t work for shit. Only a Blue Thing applied enough leverage to stick it down good, but was smooth enough not to scrape the surface off the galley paper.

But, holy cow! They made YELLOW THINGS and I never knew it!? I could’ve been the envy of my peers!

Comment from Dawn
Time: October 3, 2007, 1:50 pm

Here’s a tutorial for you Gibby.


Comment from Lokki
Time: October 3, 2007, 1:55 pm

The Lokki’s are both enough to recall many tools from the predigital age.

Mrs. Lokki, for example, once held certifications for three jobs that no longer exist.
She was Stenographer;
She was a Telex Operator;
She was an International Operator.

It was only a few years ago that I permitted my staff to get rid of the last IBM Selectric typewriter…. I loved those things. Especially the ones with the built-in correction tape. That eliminated the ‘White-Out’ bottle from my desk drawer. Do they even make White-Out anymore?

Comment from Micheal Nesmith
Time: October 3, 2007, 3:05 pm

Do they even make White-Out anymore?

Nobody uses White-Out. Use Liquid Paper!

Comment from Gnus
Time: October 3, 2007, 3:27 pm

If memory serves, rubber cement makes wonderful boogers. Never thought about scars. Lost opportunity.

Probably make a pretty good supernumery nipple with it if manipulated properly.

(Doing all I can to help with Google here.)

Relying once again on memory, Liquid Paper was white-out. Back in the day you could get a pretty good buzz from inhaling the fumes.

Comment from iamfelix
Time: October 3, 2007, 3:58 pm

I think the faux Nesmith above was pimping his own brand of liquid corrector — I’m assuming he’s faux, since he misspelled Michael.


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: October 3, 2007, 5:28 pm

Don’t get me started on IBM Selectrics, Lokki. Those damned things were so good that that people used to use them as typesetting machines for litho!

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: October 4, 2007, 11:08 am

Thanks for the information guys. I’d like to say it’s fascinating, but I’d be telling porky-pies if I did.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: October 4, 2007, 5:21 pm

We use Kimwipes in the hardware labs and the chemistry labs at work.

(Is there a better way to write the above that still makes clear that I’m talking about two separate types of labs? “The hardware and chemistry labs” sounds like I’m talking about several labs for both hardware and chemistry, or else two labs, one of each, neither of which is correct. “The hardware and the chemistry labs,” maybe?)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 4, 2007, 5:38 pm

I always thought “the hardware labs and also the chemistry labs too which are totally, totally different labs” had a nice ring to it.

At least I’m glad to hear Kimwipes found a good home and won’t go extinct.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: October 4, 2007, 6:35 pm

ooh, now we’re talking.

Have I mentioned that one of my coworkers is a Brit? I keep deliberately using Britishisms around him, but I don’t think he’s noticed. I should start using Cockney rhyming slang and see if he notices that. Next month, I’m going to ask him what he plans on doing for Bonfire Night.

(I think I would definitely notice if I were in England and a native Brit used a bunch of Americanisms…)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 4, 2007, 6:50 pm

Uncle B does, but he watched too much Buffy and it went to his head. He could probably advise on rhyming slang.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: October 4, 2007, 7:09 pm

I find that British English (English English?) contains a lot of slang. It is seems to be quite ubiquitous. (Unless, I assume, one is using The Queen’s English.)

Brits: do you find American English to be slangish?

Comment from TattooedIntellectual
Time: October 5, 2007, 3:00 am

American English is full of slang. And most of it Aussies and Kiwis do not always get.

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