Sometimes I blog about cards and fabric that I've printed myself, using a gocco, and each time I get emails asking for more information about the print gocco machine. So here is a little bit.
I have to say though, that even though I've printed many cards with my machine, and owned it for over a year, I am definitely NOT an expert when it comes to all things gocco. So, this will just be a collection of resources to help you out if you're curious. Feel free to leave a comment if I need to change something.
My favourite gocco resource is the flickr group, 'Gocco'. Not only is there never-ending inspiration in the photo pool, the 'discussion' forum is the best place to find answers to your questions about gocco printing. There are some seriously well-experienced printers on there, and everyone is so generous in sharing their tips.
What is gocco?
The gocco is a lovely little Japanese machine that allows you to print on paper and fabric at home. The print area of the standard, pg-5 model is small: just the size of a postcard, but producing a screen is quick and easy, and that screen can then be used to print as many cards, t-shirts or .... anythings as you wish. You can read more about the history of the Riso Gocco machine (and lots more) here at savegocco.com.
Where can I buy one? Where can I buy supplies?
The sad news is that after 30+ years, Riso is no longer producing gocco machines, due to a decline in their domestic market, now that so many people use their computers for printing purposes. However, sometimes it is still possible to find them on etsy and other sites, if you're quick!
Here are a few places to check- (these stores also stock the supplies you'll need for your printing- inks, screens, etc.)
NEHOC Australia pty ltd - this is an Australian site so postage to the Antipodes is much more reasonable! Nehoc stocks machines, all kinds of supplies and a demo video and instructions english. (They have loads of other great screen-printing stuff on their site too. Thanks to Charlotte and Kristine for reminding me about that.)
a little goodness
ebay (i have seen a few machines on here for sale.)
again- the flickr group 'gocco' often has links to people selling their machines.
Can I use the gocco to print both paper and fabric?
Yes, but you will need different inks, and different screens. When buying your supplies, look for the 'stamp ink for cloth' and the 'cloth-printing screens' if you'd like to give that a try. The inks and screens that come in your kit are for printing with paper. But having said that, I have printed on fabric using my paper-screens, and they've worked okay- depending on the type of fabric I used. So do some experimenting.
How do I actually use it? I'm too scared to get started...
When I first received my gocco machine in the mail, I was too scared to start using it. I think this was because I had no confidence in my drawing skills- I wanted to have an idea that was 'worthy' of printing, I was worried about wasting my screens and bulbs, and the whole thing seemed complicated and technical. It sounds as though a lot of people experience this when they first start printing. But if you are brave and get into it straight away, you'll find it's easy and not such a big deal. It might help to order extra suplies (screens and bulbs) so you have plenty on hand to boost your confidence and help you get over the worry of 'wasting' them. It's best to start with a simple drawing first while you learn how to use your machine.
It's also a good idea to get lots of printing paper or card ready, because once you get started with the printing, you can use up your cards quite quickly! I like to cut a large stack of cards before printing.
Choose a piece of paper that fits the size of your printing pad (under the glass lid of the machine.) Draw your picture with the special carbon-based pen provided. Now you're ready to make a screen.
I was going to do a photo-tutorial on this process, but I found some really good ones online, so I will just link to those. The first one includes instructions on using a photocopied image (instead of a hand-drawn one) in case you want to try that.
the dilettante crafter goes gocco
printing with gocco- the small object
gocco tutorial- mariss+drew
how to print with gocco - feltcafe
Can I re-use the screen?
Yes- it is possible to re-use your screens at a later date. I found this took some trial-and-error, and I ended up throwing quite a few of my first screens away, because they didn't work a second time around (so make sure you keep your original drawings, if you'd like to print them again!) But anyway, here are some tips for keeping the screens:
If you plan to use your screen again within, say, 24 hours, you can wrap it up carefully in plastic (a zip-lock bag works well) with the ink still intact on the screen, and keep it in the fridge. This is not a good way to keep your screens for longer than this timeframe. I've found that the ink becomes very hard and embedded in the burnt lines of the screen, making it impossible to print with again. But it should be fine for a day or so.
It's a good idea to reinforce the cardboard edges of your screen with sticky tape, especially if you will be cleaning the screen, because it will stop the edges from warping.
If you want to re-use your screen again sometime, you will need to scrape off any remaining ink and clean it. This can be a bit messy, but here is how I do it:
Put some old paper down to protect your
table, and use an old bank/credit card or similar to carefully scrape
any ink from the screen. If you can be bothered, you can keep this to
use another time. You could put it in a small jar or wrap it up well in
plastic. The gocco ink is very sticky and messy- so try not to spread
it on anything.
Now that most of the ink has been scraped off, use a small squirt of the 'gocco screen cleaner' (the small yellow tube in your kit) and some paper towels or similar to wipe the screen. Be careful though, so you don't damage it. It will still be stained but you should be able to see the lines you burned into it, when you hold it up to the light. When the cleaned screen is dry, you can pop it into a zip-lock bag or similar and store it somewhere flat.
There are many more cleaning and re-using tips on the gocco flickr group forum, including American products that you can use to clean your screens, so check that out.
Phew! I think that's it. Have fun, and long live gocco!