Gocco (rhymes with “cocoa”) printers, made in
Let’s examine the facts.
Increasingly harder to find supplies (production appears to have ceased several years ago, and supplies are only available from online sellers (etsy, ebay, etc.))
Screens can only be made from carbon-based prints – meaning you have to seek out old-school black&white copiers
Screen-burning process is incredibly finicky – make sure to have back-up bulbs and screens at the ready
Screen-burning process is fairly expensive: 4 bulbs and 1 screen (minimum, see above item) = upwards of $15
Multi-color prints only possible when colors are separated by at least ½” or so
Incredibly cool and gratifying, when it works
Multiple, multiple prints from a single screen
Very fast printing: you’ll be done in no time
Unique projects (see below) to impress your friends and intimidate your foes
I bought my Gocco in a triumphant ebay bid several years ago. The printers come in two sizes: the smaller can print an image up to 4”x6” and the larger up to 7”x10”. I knew I wanted the larger model, as my first line of Gocco endeavor was t-shirt printing. For a couple of years my roommate and I went crazy making t-shirts – snagging designs out of books, making our own out of thin air, or abstracting photos into posterized black & white images. The results were quite neat and unique, and we got the technique down pretty well (masking-tape markings for shirt positioning, cardboard inserts to stop the ink bleeding through, testing and re-testing on paper before printing on the precious t-shirt, etc.).
Inevitably, though, there were a lot of throw-away shirts in the process – probably the biggest downside to t-shirt printing with Gocco. Either not enough ink would come through, or too much ink, or despite your best efforts the design was crooked. Attempting to print a design both on the front and back doubled the risk of disaster. I began to associate a queasy sensation in my stomach with the whole Gocco process and the terror of opening my eyes to see failure. (At least, thanks to H&M, we had a good source of relatively inexpensive shirts.) The t-shirts, at least in the quantities we were making them, also failed to take advantage of one of Gocco's greatest features - the ability to make so many prints from one inking.
A sampling of old used Gocco screens from projects past:
A couple of years into Gocco-ing, I diverged into what has become my favorite type of Gocco project. What else, besides clothing, is fun to personalize but impossible to run through an inkjet printer? Party napkins! Now, in my mind, these are the perfect project for the otherwise obsolete Gocco printing method. The issue of cost and waste is negligible; IKEA’s fabulous FANTASTIK napkins are four cents or less apiece, so no sweat over the odd screw-up. But aside from cost, I think the napkins are more unique and useful: how many weird little t-shirts do you really need? There are only 52 weekends in a year, and in
Sadly, and stupidly, I don't seem to have hung onto samples of all my napkin projects (although, since I still have the screens, I suppose I could always print more). Here, though, are a couple of favorites.
This first one I did for one of my best friends' wedding - not the wedding itself, but a cocktail party the night before. (That meant it didn't have to be too formal.) I was stumped initially as to the
design, but she sent me an image of one of the fabrics they were using for the wedding (except they used blue, not red):Then I looked through their online registry for ideas, and hit on their champagne flutes (still available from Crate & Barrel, if you're interested):I brought these two images into Illustrator, played around with them for a bit, and came up with this design:
(Sunglasses pics are always a plus for this kind of thing as it gets around the problem of weird, ghostly eyes. They also tend to be flattering, so you're not likely to get a "Why did you use THAT picture?!!!" from the honoree.)
Anyway, I brought the image into Photoshop, made it grayscale (you might want to play with the Brightness & Contrast a bit first), and posterized it with the minimum number of levels (2). I cropped out the part I wanted, then added in some text, courtesy of VH1):
And here's the result:(Yeah, it's awesome. You know it. I know it. Definitely my favorite so far.)
Stay tuned for some more specifics on how the actual printing is done, in Gocco, Part II.