January 7th, 2011
Last month I made my second Christmas card using my Gocco machine. I picked it up second-hand a while ago through a Kijiji ad. This is a screenprinting process, but instead of pulling the ink with a squeegee, you press it through the screen using the machine like a big stamp. I did a simple tutorial when I first picked it up, but that was just a one-screen print. This time around I used three screens and decided to take more pictures for an in-depth tutorial. There are tons of other Gocco tutorials and Youtube videos around for this sort of thing, but I thought it would be fun to add to the pile. You can click on the pictures for a larger version. I also did a lino cut tutorial a while ago here. The screens are made with carbon-based drawings only, so I went up the road and got some photocopies made of my original drawing. Apparently your laser printer has a bit of carbon in it too, if you have one. My print has three colours: blue for the background, red for the box, and black for the lines. You need to make a photocopy of each of your colours for this step. I used Photoshop to break my drawing up into three parts. You could also try tracing paper or carbon paper if you have it. Each colour needs its own screen if the colours are going to touch. If the colours will be far apart, you can put more than one on the same screen and separate the areas with strips of the Gocco foam blocking pad. You'll see these strips farther down. Next, you expose your screens. Your photocopy goes on the printing pad, and a fresh screen goes in the top section of the machine. Then, two fresh bulbs go into the lamp. Unfortunately, both the screens and bulbs are one-time use only. Also, two AA batteries are needed for the bulbs to operate. When you press down on the top part of the unit, a big flash goes off and the screen is exposed. I don't really get how this works! After you remove the lamp and lift up the top of the machine, your paper will be stuck to the screen. Gently peel it off and your first screen is ready to go. Repeat these steps for each screen. The ink will now only go through where you can see your drawing. The screen pictured above is for my third screen, the black lines. This will be printed last. Next, ink up the screen. Lift up the clear plastic flap, and squeeze the ink all around the printable area. Then, stick it in the machine. There are arrows to help you. Lay your paper on the grey pad and then firmly press down the top of the machine to print. Be sure to print a couple on scrap paper first. The first one or two will be blotchy, and you also want to make sure you're happy with the colour you've chosen. Since more layers are to come, I used tape to mark off where I laid the paper. This is to ensure I will lay it in the exact same place while printing each layer. It's a bit of a fickle process, and each print will still look a little bit different from the next. Each layer has to dry for a few hours because the ink is oil-based. Water-based inks would dry in the fine mesh way too quickly, I think. It is a bit smelly, so a well-ventilated area is best. Lay the paper in racks or out on newspaper on your floor or table. And there's the first layer. The next picture shows the second red layer. Here, I've surrounded the area with the foam blocking strips. This is just to prevent wasted excess ink. The ink won't spread beyond the strips. You can see here how two or even three colours are possible with only one screen. The little piece of tape is blocking off a hole that's not supposed to be there. Here, you can see the card with the second layer, and then the final product. I hope this was a little helpful or at least interesting!