19.12.08

Winding down

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 fram
es 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!

16 comments:

Lorna said...

Thank you for my 'Gocco' Christmas card. i was delighted with it.

Sarah Laurence said...

Congratulations on selling almost all your inventory and getting your cards off in time. We’ve given up on cards this year and are scrambling to get ready before my family arrives. I'm off to the bookstore again.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

The cards look great, good tart job. How do you make your cunning rounded corners? Not just with scissors..???? Happy Christmas from across the pond.

liZZie said...

Hiya :-) I know nothing whatsoever about Gocco (thought it was a bird? or is it a reptile?) But I have to say I think you're on to something there. Now dear, don't be daft and tell the whole world about it! You could be the very next quasi Risco I mean Riso/Gocco sole supplier in the whole wild world. Your fortune could be made by this time next year. A budding Gocco empire in the wild south west where your heart is and your partner's chickens to be are a mere speck in some speckled hens eyes...

Elizabeth said...

Wonderful cards!
Hope you have a peaceful and lovely Christmas.
A snow storm here today.
I'm thrilled!

sewingatnight said...

hello! i have been a lurker for some time on your blog but as a gocco enthusiast i just wanted to weigh in . . . i have seen make-your-own gocco screen kits on etsy and elsewhere, where you buy the cardboard frames, silk, etc. i know a lot of people expose their screens and then just use screen+squeegee to print anywhere, but i do like the gocco action and could never get the hang of the squeegee myself. i have also seen a company online that is making its homemade (and much more substantial) version of the stamp kit. which is why i wanted the gocco all along--to print on fabric.

i too blew my first gocco print but wised up about the ink and leaving the paper on until it cools (it also helps when first inking the screen--so you ink, then peel off your drawing, and voila! ready to go.) it's not the best system ever, but there are places that have stockpiled several years' of supplies so it's worth a little more playing around, right? :)

tut-tut said...

I just bought the little tree; have a wonderful Christmas and the best year in 2009!

My resolution is NOT to get involved in any more crafts; I'm sticking to my knitting and sewing.

Frances said...

Hello PG,

I have seen and still see the same snow storm as Elizabeth.

This gocco technology continues to send its siren call to me. Somewhere else today I read of cards being made with it.

I used to know how to do silk screen printing pretty well ... up to 35 colors with acceptable registration. I wish that I could see an actual in person demo of the gocco whatever-it-is.

Judging from your photos, I would say that you have mastered it, and are ready to take that whatever to another level.

Enjoy your rest, have a very Happy Christmas. xo

muddy red shoes said...

Hey, thanks for the card, the best that I have received this year, have a jolly good and well deserved rest and love to Andy and you from us both xx

Libby said...

I too know very little about your Gocco, but throughly enjoy following your crafty/arty experiences.

Happy Christmas to you

Kim said...

The cards look great, and glad you mastered the Gocco, finally. I love your adventures into printing :) It's good that you can wind down a bit, before starting again in the New Year!

Kim x

nina said...

I can only imagine the rush you must have been feeling to be a toymaker at Christmas!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Congratulations Gretal.. on your little Sleepy Sam being highlighted.. he is adorable!!! and well deserves it..
I had never heard of Gocco machines before you wrote about them.. I'm behind the times.. Your cards turned out so splendidly..love the siloutte design and the envelope I am in awe as always when I visit here.. you blow me away with your talent...

I believe you are a master of ingenuity!!! and I am glad I know you...

Melanie said...

You are WAY ahead of me in the Gocco department and I keep getting emails from the place I bought it asking me how I went with my first print. I am too scared to use it...The even sent me a gift pack of cards and paints and things as a thank you and I am still to scared. I will brave it out in the new year I think. Anyway, I am stopping by to wish you a Merry Christmas and I look forward to seeing all of your beautiful art and craft in 2009.
Cheers
Melanie

dowhatyoulove said...

Congrats on selling your stock, that is always a satisfying feeling. That was fun to hear of your experience with gocco. I have to admit I know nothing of this process, but I liked your results!

clare said...

Thank you for your beautiful gocco card, Gretel : )
Good luck with your experiments, too.
xx