June 12, 2018

Eppink's 101 Techniques - Part I

        In 1967 Norman R. Eppink (USA) published his monumental work 101 Prints: The History and Techniques of Printmaking, which consisted of exactly that: 101 prints, each representing a different printmaking technique.  (In the limited 1967 edition, each of the representative prints was an original, and the book was printed by Eppink’s own press.  He then published a regular edition in 1971 with reproductions of the illustrations.)  The book is epic in scale and represents a tremendous undertaking on Eppink’s part to research so many different printmaking techniques and master them all at least sufficiently to produce a representative sample.  The only downside is that unfortunately I actually don’t like very many of his prints!  Still, it’s a cool enough project that I want to share a bunch with you - so many, in fact, that I’ll divide them over multiple posts.
        Eppink himself divides his 101 techniques into nine sections, which are Relief Processes; Intaglio Processes; Intaglio, Mixed Media Processes; Planographic Processes (lithographs); Stencil Processes (stencils, serigraph/silkscreen); Photographic Processes; Miscellaneous Processes (rubbings, monotypes, embossing); and Children’s Processes.  Of all those printmaking techniques, my interest is primarily only the very first section, Relief Processes.  In the following list of
relief processes that Eppink includes in his collection, I have linked to some of my own posts for comparison.  Eppink includes woodcut and wood engraving, linoleum cut, and then various multi-block, multi-color versions.  He also includes more obscure blocks including casein, gesso, plaster, lucite, plexiglas, rubber (inner tube rubber, not purpose-made rubber carving blocks, which hadn’t been invented yet), celluloid dissolved in acetone, and my favorite for sheer randomness: rabbit-skin glue mixed with molasses.  In other words, anything that can be made into a flat surface and carved can become a relief printing block.  I’m not entirely sure why these particular materials were chosen for inclusion, but I gather that each of them had at least one “serious” artist working in that medium.
        So I include for you today Eppink’s woodcut, wood engraving, linocut, and casein cut.  Casein, in case you don’t know, is a protein from milk that has a long history of use in paints and glues (and cheese, but even Eppink doesn’t seem to have considered making cheesecuts).  You can see that his casein cut is just a jumble of experimental mark-making, but what I don’t know is whether that’s about all a casein block is capable of, or whether Eppink just didn’t feel like doing anything else with it.  After all, he still had 92 more prints to go.  And finally, I’ve also included his 3-color linoleum block print, which is specifically three blocks, one for each color.
        Some of Eppink’s choices seem arbitrary: why does a 3-color print count as a separate technique from a 2-color print and a 4-color print?  Why include lucite and plexiglas as separate techniques when as far as I
understand it, they’re both just versions of the same acrylic plastic?  It certainly makes me wonder how I would break down the various possibilities if I were to undertake such a project.  But perhaps this blog is at least a partial answer to that question, even if it hasn’t been at all systematic.
        Up next, we’ll move into techniques that, despite being categorized by Eppink in sections other than Relief Processes, are still interesting.

[Pictures: Coast Line, woodcut by Norman R. Eppink;
Ruins, wood engraving by Eppink;
Aquarium, linoleum cut by Eppink;
Fragment, casein cut by Eppink;
Doors, three-color linoleum cut by Eppink, all from 101 Prints: The History and Techniques of Printmaking, 1967.]

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