June 19, 2018

Eppink's 101 Techniques, - Part III

        The final section in Norman R. Eppink’s monumental 101 Prints: The History and Techniques of Printmaking is Children’s Processes.  This may possibly have been an afterthought in his mind, but I have to give him enormous credit for including it at all, as most Serious Artists hardly seem to consider that children’s art is art at all — or that adults using “Children’s Processes” are making real art, either.
        It’s interesting to see what print-making techniques Eppink relegates to children or considers appropriate for children, and a large percentage of them are relief processes.  Hand print, potato print, glue print, and rubbing all seem fair enough (although see Diana Pomeroy’s potato prints and Raubdruckerin’s found blocks for adult versions).  Paraffin print and clay print are presumably good for children because they don’t require the sharp tools of most relief printmaking techniques.  Here (above) is Eppink’s
clay print, but I’m not sure he makes full use of the most interesting aspect of a clay block, which in my opinion would be the ability to press all kinds of shapes and textures into it, rather than just drawing lines.
        The foil print is interesting because it looks to be printed intaglio, and I’d be curious how classroom-friendly that actually is.  Does he use ordinary aluminum foil, or does the technique require something a little sturdier?  Do you need a real press as for other intaglio techniques, or can this be done with hand pressing or a mini press?
        Perhaps most interesting are the processes that Eppink includes for both adults and children.  His collagraph is considered an adult technique, but “paper print,” which is simply a collagraph made with plain paper, is listed for children.  Eppink’s paper print (unlike his collagraph) is also printed relief, and I quite like it.  I may do some experiments using paper, since I’ve always used board and thicker materials, but it looks like this would make it easier to get the inking even, not to mention easier cutting and gluing.
        Eppink lists monotype for adults, but “transfer monotype” for children.  His transfer monotype looks like what was called a “trace monotype” at RISD, where it was done by an adult artist.  (It occurs to me to wonder how Eppink made 15 monotypes for his original limited edition book.  Comparing this with the version at the Art Institute of Chicago, it looks like he used the same title for each, but that they are separately drawn and therefore not really the same.)
        And finally, plaster relief print, which Eppink includes in both Relief Processes and Children’s Processes.  Unfortunately, I didn’t scan his adult version to compare with this one, which is print 100 and falls in the Children’s section.  Nevertheless, it goes to confirm a point that sometimes seems to cause people some confusion.  That is that there are some processes that are appropriate for adults only because they may be too difficult or dangerous for children (depending on the child’s age, of course), and there are processes that are safe for children but which adults would never choose to do because they aren’t as
versatile or interesting.  However - and this is the part some people don’t seem to understand - there are also art forms that are appropriate for children and yet still perfectly interesting for adults.  Just because children can make monotypes or collagraphs doesn’t mean that adults should be ashamed to make monotypes or collagraphs.  Just because children can carve rubber doesn’t mean that adults who carve rubber are childish.  (And yes, there’s a parallel here: just because children love fantasy doesn’t mean that adults who love fantasy are childish.)
        I can’t quite decide whether Eppink was contributing to stereotypes or helping to break them down by making a separate section of Children’s Processes, but I’m glad he included them rather than ignoring them, because they certainly add to the variety and richness of printmaking represented.

[Pictures: Garden, clay print (89) by Norman R. Eppink;
Twigs and Pebbles, foil print (98) by Eppink;
Umbrellas, paper print (91) by Eppink;
Tools and Machines, transfer monotype (96) by Eppink;
Nets, plaster relief print (100) by Eppink, all from 101 Prints: The History and Techniques of Printmaking, 1967.]

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