The studio brakes have been applied - massive levers and cogs are slowly grinding to a screeching halt as I close up for a week or two of pottering and planning. The last toy in my shop has been sold - to a nice lady not a million miles away from us. (Minxie was so relieved to have found a new home for Christmas). There are but two tree ornaments left for sale; too late for overseas shipping, but if bought by Saturday, probably ok for the UK.
For once I feel rather laid back, especially now that I have posted out my seventy-odd Christmas cards. I dragged my dusty Gocco out, and put it into action, after watching various Youtube videos. Everyone in them made it look remarkably (if not miraculously) clean and easy. How difficult could it be? I think the knowledge that Gocco supplies are rapidly running out - and even more rapidly rising in price - made me a bit nervous. I had six precious bulbs...I burnt the screen once, but wasn't sure if it had taken or not. First mistake - trying to peel the original photocopy off the screen. Leave it to cool. So just to be safe, I extravagantly used another two bulbs. Which worked too well. I ended up with lots of little blips and spots, because I overexposed the screen. Ho hum. Anyway, a Christmas card had to be printed, so I squidged on the ink, as seen in the videos, and made my first test print. I was quite excited as the numerous articles and blogs I've read about Gocco makes it sound like some wonder machine. However, on my first pressing, no triumphant angels rose with a chorus of Hallejuhas, nor did celestial bells ring out across the night sky . It is, after all, just a little printer.
It was patchy. After a few more goes, the print quality improved, however even though I had faithfully followed the ''how to' videos, there was too much ink, and next time (if there is a next time) I am just going to put it on more thinly with a palette knife. Another thing you don't read about is how stickily persistent the inks are. I split my tube of black and trying to get it off was a nightmare. Washing up liquid did the trick and a bit of white spirits, but I recommend NOT breaking your ink tube, even though they are quite flimsy. Oh, and don't forget, when you are re-inking the screen, put a bit of paper under, or this will happen -
So I persevered, and finally, with an aching back and grubby hands, I had produced a lot of ok-ish cards. Was it less labour intensive and cleaner than other printing methods I've used? Yes, a little.
They looked better once I'd tarted them up a bit.
As I only have two bulbs left, I had a look round various online sites and almost fainted over the prices. Funnily enough, as supplies costs are rocketing, the prices of Gocco machines on eBay seem to have halved since I bought mine. So maybe the rising costs and impending demise are putting people off investing in one. But I am sure there are ways round this. After all, the Gocco is just a dinky little printer. It's drawbacks are that apparently you can only use Gocco products with it. (Which must have been a license to print money at the height of its popularity). This brings all kinds of drawbacks; you can't clean the screens with white spirits (which deteriorates them) you 'have' to use the pathetically small tube of Riso cleaner. You 'have' to use Riso inks, or it won't print properly. The flash bulbs are only made by Riso and now are not even being manufactured any more. And so on. But what if you decided to use the basic machine without all this? What if you simply made your own screens? All you have to do is copy the basic design of the Riso frames with a piece of stiff card, staple silk screen mesh to it, tape the sides, attach a piece of acetate and paint the mesh with photo emulsion - which requires no flash bulbs to expose the screen? In theory what you then have is a screen you can use in far more ways than the specific Gocco product. You have a screen which is more robust, can be used with cheaper, mainstream screen inks, and also can be re-used for fabric printing. It's a bit more labour intensive than the original function - but it's a heck of lot cheaper and still uses less space than a normal screen printing set up. It's the design and action of the Gocco machine itself which is special, not necessarily the materials.
I'm going to give this a go next year; if anyone else out there with a Gocco can add to or refine my solutions, please chip in and spread the word around. Remember - it's just a printer!
Thank you ever so much to Softies Central for featuring Sleepy Sam - I feel as if I've been on the cover of Vogue!