Saturday, July 10, 2010

Gocco 101

As I've spent the last week working on 4 gocco wedding invite projects...  rather than just show all the gocco progress I've made, I thought I would throw out some tips and tricks for you gocco virgins/newbies.  I am by far not a gocco expert.  I've done all about 7 projects with mine so far but throughout each project I've come to learn aspects of the art that were not in the manual.  Now this is not a tutorial on how to use the gocco.  The book that came with your gocco and resources such as are all you should need to understand the mechanics of using your gocco.  This is just advice to help you avoid things that gave me unnecessary stress and wasted some of my supplies.

Image Design tips....

~  As with the cutting rule of measure 3x, cut once.  Same applies to your image design.  Over-prepare the design so that you are sure it is flawless.  Ensure that there are no gaps, no unwanted spaces, and most of all that it lines up with what you will be printing it over (If you are adding an image to already printed text).

~ Know what materials you can use to create the image.

     * The special Gocco pen that comes with the kit
     * An image copied on a photocopier (be sure to use a blue screen between the screen and the bulbs when flashing as photocopied images tend to have toner dust that can add unwanted flashed spots)
     * An image printed on a LASER printer (laser is key because the toner will heat and melt the screen... ink jets will not work)
     * A #2 pencil drawn image.  Yes!  A #2 pencil!  I tested it yesterday as I didn't believe either and it burns through.  Just be careful as pencil dust could also burn holes where you don't want them.

Image Setup...

~ Tape your image flat.  The key is to ensure that the image makes flush contact with the screen for proper burning.  So don't use tape donuts.  Also throw a couple sheets of paper behind the image.  I use around 5-10 pieces of card stock to prop the image up.  This ensures that it will make proper contact with the screen.

~  Don't get to close to the edge of the screen with your design.  Try to keep your image 1/4 -1/2 an inch in from the edge of the screen.  If you get too close, the edges of image won't make contact to the plastic on the screen.  Without direct contact, the image won't burn completely through.

This screen is missing the "e" in "the"...  it needed reflashed because the original image did not contact the screen flush.

Finished products...

Flashing the Screen...

~ If you made a photocopy image, use the blue screen.  But make sure it's between the screen and the plastic window.  Don't put it between the screen and the image or you will burn your image into the blue screen.  The blue screen can be rescued by scrubbing off the burnt on toner with a steel wool pad but it's still a pain in the butt if can be avoided.

~ Use fresh batteries as weak batteries will not make the bulbs flash hot enough leading to incomplete melting of the screen.

~ Other than stacking sheets behind the image, I also hold down the top of the gocco for about a minute after the flash to ensure that my image has burned through.

Printing!  The fun part!

~ Block the screen

      * Block around the image with the blocking foam.  This helps you use less ink and keep colors from bleeding into others.

      * Block images that you don't want to print by taping them off.  (This is common to do in standard screen printing)  Just make sure that you tape the top of the screen (The part of the screen that directly touches the ink liner.).  Don't tape the side that you had touching the image as when you pull the tape off, it will tear the plastic blocker and the image you are hiding off the screen.

      * Any areas that you don't want open on the screen (aka toner flash dots) can be blocked with nail polish (a tip I picked up 13 yrs ago in my high school silk screen class).

~ Apply the ink in the areas where your image is.  If you weren't able to block sections to ensure that colors will not bleed into each other, know that you have little control over what the ink does.  The ink will bleed into neighboring colors unevenly so a way to avoid unplanned and sloppy bleed through, purposely swirl the ink.  This gives you the dimension of two colors but is less frustrating than trying to control bleed through.  The other solution is to burn two separate screens for different color sections.  But that requires purchasing an extra screen and set of bulbs.

An example of bleed through...  The gold is no longer staying center and the green from the stems is bleeding into the petals.  Solution...take the green out from the center and swirl the gold with yellow to avoid bad bleeding...

If you want to permanently block part of a screen... you can use nail polish.  Here I just used a gold to block the stems of the flowers off to print just the buds on the envelope.  

I hope this little bit of tips is informative for you all out there starting the process of screen printing.  Using the gocco is tons of fun but as the supplies are no longer being manufactured, it's always good to keep from wasting your supplies.  =)

Anyone else out there have any other Gocco tips worth sharing?  I'm always interested in learning more about this little art.

***I'll be posting finished pictures of the wedding invite suite in the next few weeks... =)***

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