Sunday, December 20

Print Gocco and Holiday Cards 3

With the foam barriers in place, it was time to start inking the stencil. The red lips and brown fur would be easy because the colors those inks came in were suitable entirely on their own, but the blue was way too dark for the sky, unless the image was to represent night. That was not how we planned it.

Having worked with this blue Gocco ink in the past, I was quite prepared to mix it up. Adding white to blue ink was a complete failure and resulted in a not-noticeably less-dark night sky, so this time I drew out ten lines of white ink and one line of blue ink. This turned out to be a very good ratio, and when I mixed up the ink it produced a nice light blue sky color. But this mixture had to be manually spread onto the stencil. Lacking a thin, flexible paint knife with a narrow edge, I had to improvise. I tried a chopstick, which was fine for blending the ink but terrible for precise placement. Rebecca got me a plastic spoon which worked much better, especially when it broke: the handle was thin enough to daub the ink in tight turns and narrow areas.

Spreading the brown and red ink were no problem whatsoever. The thing to remember with the Gocco is to use a lot of ink: gunk it up. Really. If you're going to print a lot, of course you know you'll need a lot of ink, but even the instructional video suggests being wasteful. This is because the ink will not distribute itself evenly, despite your best efforts, and one area will become thin and then barren while everywhere else is still going strong. You can certainly refill the template while you're printing, but that is such precarious business! You peel back the protective plastic layer that's holding the ink down and the ink has of course applied itself to the underside of that. So you've got two goopy, inky surfaces facing you like a book of malign intent, into which you must delve and reapply the ink. That's not so bad if you're refilling a solid color, but if you have to blend and reapply a custom color--such as I had to, three times--you're asking for trouble the longer you're meddling with it.

I was disappointed to see the waffle-print in the stencil. I've seen it before and forgotten about it, but it showed up prominently in this run of cards so I'm going to document how to preclude this (probably).

That waffle-print comes from the foam cushion inside the Print Gocco. When you're making a stencil, you have a foam platform with a thin coat of plastic and that waffle-print surface, and upon that you place the image (carbon-black lines on a white background) and the blank template. The flash bulbs quickly build heat in the black ink which burns an impression into the template, and it's through that impression the ink must flow. But the waffle-print comes into play if you don't put a thicker card behind the white sheet with the blank ink on it. Place a thicker card back there, or a few sheets of regular paper, to mitigate the channels formed in the waffly foam surface and the paper with the black image will be nice and flat for the template. I won't make that mistake again.

Loaded with ink, the template slides securely into the lid of the Print Gocco and locks into place. It really is a cunning device: having forgotten the instructions (and not being able to read Japanese), I was still able to figure out how to place the stencil because there truly is only one way it can go in. And once it was in the rest of the process came flooding back to active memory, and I knew how to load the ink and everything else.

You can see the loaded stencil in place, and the white sheet below it would be replaced by 50 folded pieces of cardstock in succession. This is the fun part of the whole thing, notable for a project that is fun all the way through. I want to save the Gocco for special occasions, but once I get going on it I don't want to stop. Using this device is simplicity itself: drawing the design in Photoshop is harder than transferring it to the stencil and loading it with ink. Printing is so easy, more thought is required in strategizing where the printed items will be arrange to allow them to dry. And once the cards were done, I literally glanced around the room to see if there were anything else that needed printing on...

No comments: