A few people have asked how Print Gocco works, and although there are lots of gocco resources and tutorials on the internet already I figure it can’t hurt to add one of my own. This is a very rough guide, and I’ve cobbled together the photos from several different sessions (I get too absorbed to remember to take photos throughout an entire session…), but hopefully you’ll find it educational.
The first thing you need to do is prepare your artwork. In order to produce a master (jargon alert – a master is the screen which you create and then use to do all your printing) you need a correctly sized image which contains carbon. I either photocopy my original image (photocopies contain carbon) or I draw the image using a RISO carbon pen (RISO is the company who used to produce Gocco equipment and materials). I’m having a bit of a hit-and-miss thing with photocopies at the moment: some yield a perfect result and others end up producing an imperfect screen, and so far I’ve not been able to work out why. It’s infuriating.
Inking over my pencil-drawn original with RISO carbon ink.
Once you’ve got your image ready you need to position it in your Gocco machine.
Positioning the image and checking its position through the glass
Take your time with this, and put a blank piece of card between your image and the print bed to ensure your image is exposed cleanly (sometimes the criss-cross markings on the print bed can affect your image).
Insert your blank master screen into the machine
Check that you’ve put batteries in (try and use fresh ones, I only use batteries twice in the gocco before changing to a new set in case they don’t have enough juice to flash the bulbs properly). Put bulbs into your exposure unit (and rub the contact points on paper to clean them before you fit them into the unit). Ready?…
Had to go with a little video for that as it’s incredibly difficult to capture the moment of the flash with a photograph! Your master screen is created when the heat from the bulbs causes the carbon in your image to burn through the emulsion on the screen. This leaves areas of the screen where ink can pass through, thus allowing you to print your image.
Once you’ve got over the excitement of creating your master you’re almost ready to start printing. Gocco ink is expensive and also a finite resource as the company isn’t making it any more, so to minimise wastage you need to block off the areas of your master that don’t need ink.
Block around the outside of your image to prevent ink from spreading too far
There is official RISO ink blocking available, but the lovely Xtina Lamb taught me that cheap and cheerful sticky-backed foam sheets work better. Cut it into strips and use it to surround your image, this prevents the ink from spreading right out to the edges of the master. If you’re using multiple colours on a single print then you can use the blocking to prevent the colours bleeding into each other (although the bleeding might actually be a desirable effect, depending on the image).
Blocking can help prevent different coloured inks from bleeding into each other
It doesn’t always go well. This was my first attempt at using multiple inks on one screen and the red was inexplicably more oily and runny than the other colours so it seeped under the blocking after a few prints. I had to clean the whole lot off and start again!
Once your screen is blocked, and inked, you’re ready to start printing! This really is easy, you insert your inked screen back into the Gocco machine (having removed the exposure unit containing the bulbs first), place some paper or card on the print bed, then lower the lid and apply pressure. Lift lid, remove print, repeat. The amount of pressure you need to use will vary and it’s trial and error: use too much pressure and too much ink will come through and result in a messy print… use too little pressure and the print will be faint.
Prints drying in a rack
Cards drying on a line
The prints take ages to dry properly, so ensure you’ve got somewhere safe to put them all where they won’t get smudged. I’ve got some RISO racks, and have also rigged up some lines of string in my studio so that I can hang cards out of the way above my head. This has turned out to be a good solution as it frees up my desk space so I can keep working on other things, and of course they look kind of pretty all hung up like bunting!
The ink goes a surprisingly long way, so make sure you’ve got lots of cards to print onto – once you’ve got started you might as well make 100 as make 10. The clean up will take the same amount of time, so you might as well get lots printed before you start the painstaking cleaning of the screen.
No photos of this as I’m generally covered in ink, but you should aim to save as much of the ink as possible (it’s expensive, remember?). Scrape it off with a palette knife, or similar, and pop it into a tub or plastic ink cone (a bit like a very small piping bag) – make sure that your container is airtight. After you’ve salvaged as much ink as possible start cleaning the screen by placing it onto a bit of kitchen roll and gently dabbing it with kitchen roll (or J cloth, or something else that doesn’t leave fluff everywhere). Keep going (changing the kitchen roll beneath the screen at intervals as and when it becomes too inky) until you’ve got as much off as possible, then use the RISO screen cleaner to get the last bits of ink out (I actually use Zest-It, a solvent, as it seems to work better, but I do use the RISO stuff at the end to help preserve the screen).
So that’s it, a very rough guide to Gocco. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and if you’ve got any questions then please ask
The underside of a master, showing the ink coming through
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