Seguy, Pochoir and Cicadas

I have been thinking about cicadas recently, as the eastern seaboard is soon to get a visit from our set of cicadas who come and sing in the trees every seventeen years. cicada

They are intimidatingly large, and make a crazily loud sound–like someone shaking a seed-filled rattle in your ear. But they have a very pretty design on their backs, and I see them in inkblots sometimes, with wings spread.

The illustrator and surface designer from the 20s, E. A. Seguy, did a wonderful image of cicadas. Not sure if it our eastern seaboard variety, but he clearly loved their pretty design as well:



Last night I was watching PBS and there was a bit–not a whole show, and I can’t even tell you what the bit was exactly–about pochoir in artwork of the Twenties. Sonia Delaunay was mentioned as someone who employed pochoir, as was Seguy.



And what I discovered astounded me: the original book illustrations were done using a stencil technique–which is what pochoir is. I had no idea.



Each color in Seguy’s fantastically detailed and richly colored insect plates was added using a stencil. The stencil you see above is one of mine, and is made of mylar. The ones Seguy would have used, and we have to assume that he was not doing it all himself, but that there was a pochoir factory, I suppose, would have probably been thin brass or copper, so that they would be washed and used again, and would be durable for multiple printings.

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