Emma Higgins - Printmaker

Emma Higgins - Printmaker
EmEmma Higgins - Printmakerma Higgins - Printmaker

Emma Higgins - Printmaker

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Gocco Printing

Gocco Printing
At the end of last year I was lucky enough to spend some time travelling around New Zealand. In the seaside town of Oamaru (home of Steam Punk and Yellow Eyed Penguins!) I found a quirky little gallery unlike any I have ever been to before. Here, I bought a beautiful little blue print of two feathers and a swallow entitled 'Small things'. Unfortunately, I can't make out the artist's name from the signature. The lady at the till told me that it was an original 'Gocco' print.
I wasn't sure what that meant but I knew that I loved the quality and effect of the ink on the paper. I HAD to be able to do it myself (I do get a bit obsessive about things like this).
After a lot of homework on the Internet, I discovered that 'Gocco' is a Japanese screen printing machine, no longer manufactured but still for sale if you look around. This website explains a bit more with a video of a Gocco machine in use. http://www.savegocco.com/what-is-gocco/
I received some birthday money : ) I took the plunge and bought a second hand Gocco machine on Ebay. Hurrah!
In my other life, I'm a Primary School teacher. I've had to wait till the Easter holiday to have a free day just to learn how to make Gocco prints. Yesterday was the day!! I've been so excited about getting started, I'm going to try to explain what I did.
I must mention that the manual was written in Japanese so I must thank Tabitha Emma, a blogger who gives excellent, comprehensive step by step instructions. http://tabithaemma.com/how-to-gocco-on-fabric/ I couldn't have even started without her help.
This is what happened yesterday...
1. I sat in the garden on a deckchair with my sketchbook and drew this old wooden box of herbs that sits by our front door. I added the words 'Happy Birthday' as I thought I'd start off by trying to make a simple greetings card.

2. I traced my finished design using a homemade lightbox (a lamp on the floor under a glass table!). I used a special black carbon pen to draw with, the alternative is to photocopy a design ready for use but the copy needs to contain carbon, I'm not sure which photocopiers do/don't and I've not interrogated my local copy shop yet. For the moment, I'm going to stick to using the carbon pen.

3. This is the Gocco machine - ta da!!
You can see here that I slid a white mesh 'screen' into the top part, and laid my design on the table below. I also had to put in two AA batteries.
4. Now to prepare the bulbs by rubbing them onto paper (no, I'm not sure why either, I'm just following the instructions!) - bulbs are EXPENSIVE, as are all Gocco supplies as they are no longer manufactured. I was praying that these would work as it's common to get dud ones.

5. Next I screwed the bulbs into this special lamp holder box thingy.

6. I closed the lid of the Gocco machine and could see my design through this window.

7. Here you can see that I put that lamp holder box thingy on top, upside down. Still following??

8. I pressed down hard on the Gocco printer for a few seconds which makes the bulbs flash and crackle.
The bulbs burn through the mesh where ever the carbon is - so your design is burnt onto the screen. Screen printers will know about all this of course but I'm just a total novice so it was all a steep learning curve for me. It felt a bit like magic to be honest.

9. I opened the machine, removed the hot bulbs and the mesh screen. I squeezed ink onto the mesh screen, all over my design until it was totally covered.

10. Here you can see that I placed my finished inked up screen back into the Gocco printer.
11. I placed a piece of paper onto the bed below, closed the lid of the machine which magically squeezed the ink through my mesh screen, but only in the places where my design had been burnt through.

12. WOW it only flippin worked!!!! I had to really pinch myself... at this point, I had the music on loud and was dancing around my little printing room with joy and excitement!
Woo Hoo! Lots of Gocco printed cards, all with my design on...


What a natty little machine and what a fantastic day I had working it all out.

When my husband returned home from work in the evening, the house looked an art shop that had been robbed...luckily, he's used to it!!

You can buy my card for £3 free UK P&P here...

Or in packs of 5 for £13 free UK P&P here...

Emma x

Monday, 14 April 2014

See all the stages of making a lino print

First I used a steel ruler and a scalpel to cut the lino to the right size.
Next I drew out my design onto the lino. This image will be in reverse when the print is made.
I chose to make a print of the beach, the sea, a local cliff called 'The Ness' in Teignmouth and the sky with low cloud.
Because I was going to be printing in several different colours, I needed to tape down a sheet of paper onto my desk to make a registration plate. Registration is the tricky art of placing the lino and paper in exactly the same position each time a new colour is added.
You can see that I drew around the lino block and then also around the squares of printing paper that I would be using. Each time I print, the lino and printing paper must line up exactly with these guidelines.
Next I squirted out some Lawrence Arts linseed oil printing ink onto my glass desk top and used a roller till I could tell that the ink was the right consistency (it makes a lovely tacky noise, then I know it's ready!) 
I used the roller to apply a layer of ink all over the lino block.
When the whole lino block was covered in light blue ink, I placed it back on the registration sheet.
I then carefully lowered my printing paper over the top of the lino block making sure that the edges of the paper matched the guidelines I had previously drawn on the registration plate.
I then used an old wooden spoon to press all over the back of the paper. This helped the ink to stick to the paper. You can see that I drew a pencil cross in the bottom left hand corner. This showed me which way up the paper needed to go when I added the next colours.
 I carefully peeled the paper back to reveal my design. In this case it was just a light blue square to start with!
I left the first colour to dry on the line.
I repeated this step until I had a whole line of prints.
My next step was to go back to my lino block and carve some away using sharp tools. You can see I use a bench hook and always cut away from myself to avoid injury!
I cut the lino away in the parts of my design that I wanted to keep light blue. In this case it was just the sky. The cloud, cliff, beach and sea all remain uncut.
I wanted to print a low grey cloud on top of the pale blue sky that I had already printed. Just as before, I prepared some grey ink and rolled it onto the top of my lino plate. I was careful not to get any grey ink on the rest of the lino.
Again, I placed the lino block onto the registration plate. I then carefully lined up and lowered my printing paper (the one that already had light blue ink printed onto it.)
Once I had pressed over it again with the wooden spoon and peeled the paper away from the lino block, this is what it looked like. The grey was printed on top of the light blue.
I repeated this step so that all prints were at the same stage.
Having finished printing the sky, I was able to cut away and discard the top half of my lino plate. This left the cliff, sea and sand to print using the bottom of the lino block.
I applied some pinky brown ink to the whole of the remaining lino block.
In the same way as before, I lined up my lino block and printing paper and added the new pinky- brown colour over the top of the light blue and grey.
I then cut away the sand and parts of the cliff on the lino block because I wanted them to stay pinky- brown. I rolled on mid blue ink to be able to print the sea. I used masking tape to make sure I didn't get any blue ink on the cliff, then removed the tape before printing. Some blue ink caught on the bottom of the plate but I encouraged this as it looked like pools of seawater on the sand.
This is what it looked like after printing the mid blue sea.
The last step was to cut away all the lino apart from anything that I wanted to be green which was to be my last colour. I kept the lino representing the trees and bushes on the cliff.
I applied the ink...
This is what it looked like once I had printed the green on top. All ready to mount and frame!


 You can find this print for sale here...   http://folksy.com/items/6487704-Cliff-lino-print   or



I've also made another print of 'Coastline'. These two prints go well together as a set.


See this print for sale here...http://folksy.com/items/6397711-Beach-lino-print or https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/194603071/beach-lino-print?ref=listing-shop-header-3


Friday, 11 April 2014

New tools : )

This month I've bought two new Lino cutting tools from a fantastic shop -Axminster Tools and Machinery. They are very fine so I'm hoping I will be able to do lettering and very fine detail with them. 

I've also bought a natty little tool from EBay (sent from Japan ) It's a contraption to squeeze every last little bit out of each ink tube... It's very addictive, crimptastic!