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