This past Saturday I took a three hour Print Gocco class at SCRAP--Scroungers Center for Reusable Art Parts--in San Francisco. Print Gocco is a Japanese printing system that uses paints/inks, flashbulbs, and a stamping machine or hand stamp. The manufacturer stopped making the machines over a year ago; it is surprising because there are a lot of accessories to order, so it is a perfect way to keep getting revenue. What is also surprising is the clarity and quality of the printing. You can make dozens and dozens of copies from one paint load.
The class was taught by local artist Marc Ellen Hamel, a certified fourth degree Goccologist. Her painting to the left is by hand, not by Print Gocco. In the class, I was surrounded by women artists, one of whom complained she was way behind everyone else, then turned out a card so incredibly detailed I thought she must spend her weekdays engraving currency plates for the U.S. Mint.
Here is how Print Gocco works, from the perspective of a stick figure doodler who was too busy squirting and stamping to really understand the whole concept. First, take a black carbon pen/marker and draw your figure to be printed, on card stock size paper. Photocopies from certain copiers of previously drawn or assembled images will also work. The main criteria is whatever is going to be printed has to start out as black carbon; only the black areas will transfer the paint.
To prepare each original, the reflective Print Gocco attachment is first loaded with two big flash bulbs, the kind that drove King Kong out of his gourd when he was on stage. Then put your original to be printed on what is called the print table of the machine. You slide the master, which is a miniature Etch-a-Sketch photo sleeve, into the Print Gocco lid. When you close the lid and press down, the flashbulbs go off. You can see the bones in your arms for a few seconds, then millions of little stars, right before you black out.
The flash process makes what looks like a silkscreen burn of your drawing, and makes your original stick to the back of the screen. Using the dark lines of your original to guide you, gleefully squirt various colors of ink/paint over the lines of your drawing on the screen, letting it build up generously. Whatever was black before will become the color you are squirting over it. If your lines are too close together, thin strips of foam with adhesive backing can be used to separate the colors.
Once your screen is all slathered up with ink/paint, you close the plastic flap of the Etch-a-Sketch again and put it back in the Print Gocco Machine. By slipping blank card stock in the machine, each time you press down it prints a color version of your original drawing. The amazing part is you can make dozens and dozens of copies from the original inking. When you get tired of making cards, you can remove the “stencil” and put it in a hand held stamp. With the hand stamp you can wallpaper your room with the designs, or make wrapping paper, wanted posters, personalized lunch bags, giant business cards, it just goes on and on. When you have printed everything in sight, there is still ink left, although fading a little like a monotype would.
When your printings are dry enough, you can trade one of your Pablo-Picasso-in-the-third-grade cards to each of the artists and engravers for one of theirs, and pack up and go home.
If you really want to know how to do it, see eHow.
By Phil Gravitt