January 8, 2012

Love, Worry, and Gocco Supplies

When I got my Gocco printer, I knew that buying supplies might eventually become a problem. Since no new Riso supplies are being made for the Gocco, the screens and bulbs available out there are ever decreasing in amount and ever increasing in price. BUT the good news is there are alternative supplies you can find that will let you keep on using your Gocco! Here's how I use one alternative, StencilPro from Circuit Bridge.

Here's what you need to make it work:
  • Artwork (drawn and scanned or computer generated)
  • StencilPro HiRes Sheets (I use the 4x5 size, though you can buy larger sheets and trim them)
  • Transparency Paper (you will need to print your artwork on this paper in black ink)
  • Exposure frame (buy or make)
  • Old Gocco B6 Screen (or equivalent frame, perhaps bought or made in cardboard from a template)
  • Gocco ink and printer (and something to print on!)

It still begins with an idea, sketched out and then inked in. I scan the image into my computer (you could of course just produce your artwork on your computer to start with) and then print out on a transparency page. (You want to use transparency here and not regular paper because you will be exposing your screen in the sunlight and you need the contrast of clear and black.)

Now you need a little setup for exposing your screen. The StencilPro people have exposure frames available, but I've just put together my own. It's a layer of corrugated cardboard, then a layer of black felt, then clear glass. You want to work in a pretty dark room at this point since the StencilPro is light sensitive. You put your StencilPro sheet on the black felt, then add your artwork on transparency, then top it with the glass. I clip it together to secure it and make sure nothing will wiggle around and spoil the image while it's being exposed. Then I top everything with another piece of cardboard to prevent early exposure and head outside to expose the screen.

It's nice to have a little timer handy to expose your screen the proper length of time. A chart comes with your StencilPro and it only takes a short amount of time to do the exposure. You want to do your exposing on a sunny day for best results. For this particular image, I held my image in the sunlight for about 30 seconds before covering it back up with the cardboard and coming back inside.

Again in low light, open up your exposure frame. At this point you need to soak the StencilPro sheet in water for at least 10 minutes. I use a square Tupperware container for this. Waiting is hard! After the soak, you need to rinse off your screen and make sure it was exposed properly. I have a plastic grid I use to hold my screen while I run water over it. The parts of the screen that haven't been exposed to light will rinse off, allowing you to print your artwork. I also like to use a soft brush to make sure and get all the pink off the areas of artwork. You will be able to see your design clearly, with light being able to shine through those areas while the rest of the screen will stay pink. (Take your time to get all the pink off the little lines and areas for a clean print later!)

After gently blotting your screen with a paper towel, you will need to return it to the sun to set the screen. This takes about 10 more minutes.

Now, to use the StencilPro screen in your Gocco, you will need a frame to hold it. Anyone who's ever Gocco-ed  before probably has an old screen or two that didn't turn out or that you are done printing from. You can cut out the middle of the screen (leaving some extra since the StencilPro page is smaller than a Gocco screen) or make a new screen out of cardboard. (If you go the cardboard route, you will need to wrap the cardboard in tape, and I'd recommend changing the opening to be a bit smaller for fitting the 4x5 StencilPro screens. You'll also need to find plastic of some kind for sealing in the ink.) Whatever frame you use, you'll want to tape your screen into the frame at this point (on both sides!)

Now it's like making a regular Gocco print. You ink up your screen, put the plastic over the ink, pop it into your machine and print as usual.

Here's the finished result!

While using StencilPro is not quite as easy as using a Gocco screen, it does give you a bit more control over the whole process. (If you've ever had one bulb not go off when making a screen with regular Gocco supplies, you know what I mean!) It is a bit inconvenient to have to wait for a sunshine-y day to make a screen, especially if inspiration strikes at night and you like the instant gratification of printing within minutes. (Apparently you can use other artificial light sources, but I haven't tried that myself.) It does take longer to expose the screen as well. And even using the HiRes version of StencilPro, I find it has a bit of trouble with very thin lines, so if your artwork is in that style or if you're making something like invitations with small type I'd recommend sticking to Gocco screens. But overall I find StencilPro to be a good alternative Gocco supply. It's less expensive than the Gocco bulbs and screens (and for those worried about the safety of the bulbs it's a nice option as well). It's totally worth a try for those who are out of supplies but who want to keep using their Gocco printers!

I made both cards and prints from this hand-lettered design. All available now in my shop!


cozy breeze cafe said...

Hi thanks for great posting!
I was just wondering, where do you buy stencilpro? I tried ordering it from cbridge online website and the shipping alone costs around $30.. Is there any alternative from getting it shipped from US? I heard it can be substituted to capillary film, so I tried searching around Sg but the distributor said, they already stopped distribution. Thanks!

Liz Cooke said...

Thank you so much for posting this!!