POCHOIR – The Brightest Prints of them All
Pochoir is an ancient printing process that was rejuvenated by the French during the 1900-1940 time period, mainly in Art Deco and Art Nouveau design & costume prints. It is a process based on stencils (usually made of copper or aluminum) through which layers of watercolor or guache paint was applied by hand usually to a black & white lithograph print. Using the unique Pochoir process, beautiful prints of intense color were created. It is interesting that the brushes used to apply paint were called “bon-bons”.
The Pochoir process was mainly used in France and at the peak, about thirty graphic design studios, each with up to 600 employees, were creating Pochoir prints. Each print was unique because it was created by hand and each was vivid in both a tactile and visual sense. The process was very labor and time intensive and therefore expensive and as many as 100 stencils were used to create a single image. The number of individual Pochoir prints was usually limited so not many remain today. As with hand-coloring of prints, the Pochoir process is currently not economically feasible.
Several French artists including Saude, Gallois & Marty specialized in creating Pochoir prints. Other artists such as Matisse dabbled in the Pochoir process. Most stenciled prints were of costumes and Art Deco and Art Nouveau fashion subjects where the rich and detailed colors were most appreciated.
The Pochoir process produced lovely prints that when framed and hung, brighten the room with their vivid color. Although most are not yet true antiques (100 years old), they are a prime example of “Antiques of Tomorrow”.