Sunday, April 13, 2008

everything I know about Gocco

Today I'm going to bring you a rather long post, the wonderful gritty details of our Gocco experience. When I say "our", the Gocco machine actually belongs to my older sister, Celeste, who bought the machine last year at this time to spice up Bamboo Village Press, her Etsy shop, with printed paper goods. Since opening my own shop on Etsy the following November, I've gotten so much guidance from my wonderful sister that I forget sometimes there are people out there maneuvering the craft world or Etsy on their own.

So, here is any tips and sites from our experience that have come in very handy while thinking about setting off on a Gocco adventure! ***This is also my first attempt to edit my own HTML so that links open in a new window. If something doesn't work, let me know and I'll try to fix it/ get you the link. :)

The best site on the web for an introduction to Gocco is probably Save Gocco. This will give you the whole background and history behind the machine, and the campaign to keep RISO from taking them off the market. What they are are essentially silkscreen kits designed to fit in your home and be cleaner/ easier to use than using the press & squeegee method. I've done some home silk screening (wooden frame and tubs of ink) as well as printmaking in college and other than the questionably toxic bulbs that Gocco requires to create the screen image for you, I agree it is much cleaner/ easier.

(However, if you can help me to get my house to look like this... I would be really very grateful!)

The process is simple: you start with an image you want to use for your print and transfer this image (either using a Micron Pigma, carbon pen, or photocopy) to sized paper sheets Gocco provides you. This rests on the bottom of the machine. The upper most part of the frame has your screen and a removable bulb case that, when pressed down (as though you were making a stamp) will activate the bulbs and transfer the darks of your drawn image to the screen. Now you no longer need the paper drawing. Once you have made your screen you remove the bulb case, lay ink down over the dark transfered lines of your screen, and proceed to stamp away!

    • One of the things I really love about this particular way of printing is that your transfered image is not backwards. It took some getting used to, since I was used to printmaking, but really it is so easy not to have to plan in reverse!
    • What I've noticed a lot of fascinating and design savvy Gocco users will do is plot out their 2 or 3 color designs on a computer first. This way it is much easier to plot out how to proceed if your end image will have more than one color.
Our Gocco machine is a pg6. The pg6 is the largest Gocco model and my sister got this one in order to easier print on fabric. The pg6 measures 15.7"x 18.1" (our microwave, for example, is smaller) but it is pretty lightweight and the screens themselves can print an image almost as big as a normal 8 x 10 sheet of paper.

After printing with the pg6 for the last 6 months, I am eager to try out the smaller stamp Gocco, like this pg5. Why? well, the base of our printer is designed to move with the pressure you apply. This is a good thing considering you are smooshing ink through a screen, but can be tricky around the edges of such a large area if you have many images on one screen. Doing my own research about my favorite Gocco artists (mostly from Etsy, but Flickr is wonderful for Gocco info) I find that many people are using the smaller stamp models.

Now, lastly, let's be really honest about how expensive these little guys are. Our pg6 came from one of my favorite stationary suppliers, Paper Source. I fully trust them and their customer service is great, but they are on the high end of craft suppliers. Along with another set of supplies, bulbs, and shipping, the entire cost was almost $500.00. This does not include the cost of what you will be printing on. When I first started printing on paper, I would say about 1/3 attempts turned out to be mis-prints or not good enough for sale.

Also, despite the size of our printer, I have to date not successfully printed on fabric. Celeste has done some beautiful images which leads me to believe it is easier with bolder, thicker designs if you are going to tackle fabric (see above). But, she had a couple of hiccups with these cloth bound journals, so you have to factor in your supplies as well as whether your supplies work against you while considering the long-term costs.

If you still want to get a Gocco, my suggestion would be to practice, practice, practice with your basic inks and one color printing before expanding. Our secret weapon for supplies is Welsh Products, who seem to be a small company (you have to email your customer order to them) and are really friendly, helpful, reasonably priced. Shipping takes about a week, slower than most, but if you plan ahead its a company worth supporting. Lastly, there are constant discussions about Gocco in forums, both on Etsy and Flickr. Countless groups on both these communities, as well as IndiePublic, MySpace, Facebook, and even Yahoo are fantastic resources when you jump in!

I'll do my best to answer any other questions as they come up, but otherwise the very best of luck to all of you:


Tina said...

I'm jealous, I wish I had a PG-6. Although, I do love my PG-11. I order from Welsh Products too. I find them to have the best prices on supplies. The company isn't that far from me. My shipments always arrive next day.

laurie said...

Tina, I just looked up those pg11's and it looks like a little mini pg6. Maybe thats the one I'll get when I invest in a small model. Thank you so much for the advise and finding the blog! :)

I'm glad you wrote, too, about your Welsh experience (I'm in PA) because they're such a great company!

Krissy said...

Thanks so much for posting this on the Flickr group! So glad I found your blog. I am right there with Tina on being jealous of your PG 6, but do love my PG 11 as well as ordering from Welsh Products. I live in MO, so the shipping is slow- but like you said, "if you plan ahead"...

Love your prints:)

laurie said...

Oh, I'm so glad you stopped by! I really adore Flickr, it was my first time posting in a discussion! :)
I'm so happy, too, that everyone loves Welsh so much.
Good people, so many good people!

laura said...

what a great post! i'm such a fan of the gocco too, and just hope someone keeps making everything :) i need to try out the welsh products people, though i order from northwood studios, and judy is so nice and everything comes so quickly!

Cynthia said...

yay for gocco! Great post. I have the smaller B-6 model, but lately have been wondering if I should get the larger one...hmmm :I

Serendipity Collections said...

Excellent post, Laurie! I am a complete beginner and you give lots of helpful info! I am at a loss as to the best prodcut for a novice like me but I am so glad to be part of Loco for Gocco and to have read your post!

Thanks again!

laurie said...

I'll let you all know when I get my hands on a smaller model, somehow I feel like it would be easier to do large print runs that way.

Otherwise, thanks so much for the comments! I'm glad its helpful!