Hooray! Something is finally, honest-to-goodness finished in regards to this wedding.
(Okay, so my cardigan is done, but so much else is in varying states of started or planning that to complete a task still feels very big!)
As usual, the whole process took a bit longer than anticipated, but that had to do more with weather than anything else. There are oodles of Gocco tutorials on the web, so I’m going to go through this one pretty fast because, really, it’s just that simple to use.
1. Print out a crisp, clear copy of the image you want to print. If you don’t have a carbon-based-toner printer (i.e. laser printer of photocopier) hooked up to your computer, you’ll need to head out to a copy shop and make a copy of your image. The screens react to the carbon-based toner, anything else won’t burn correctly.
2. Trim the image to fit your printing area and place it on the Gocco’s printing pad (make sure there’s a piece of paper on the sticky-side of the printing pad, you don’t want the image you’re burning to get stuck).Â Load the screen (along with the blue filter, if necessary) into the slot on the cover and two of the bulbs into the bulb housing.
3. (not pictured) Close the lid, click the bulb housing into place (line up the arrows) and then press the cover down until the flashbulbs pop and stop crackling (2-5 seconds).
4. Remove the bulb housing and set it aside to cool before removing (and properly disposing of) the bulbs. Your original image will probably be stuck to the screen–this is good, leave it there and remove the whole screen sandwich from the slot on the inside of the cover.
5. Fold back the clear plastic sheet on the front of the screen and apply your chosen ink generously over the area to be printed.
6. Return the clear plastic sheet to its usual position and let the ink smoosh down a bit. Smooth the sheet out so it’s all level.
7. Reload the screen into the lid of the printer and then peel off your original image, You should be able to see the burned areas of the screen fairly clearly from this angle.
8. Use some copy paper to test your screen and ink distribution. If you have any edges that need refining or a bad spot on the screen, fill it in with correction fluid. I used white-out and a flat-sided brush to clean up the second d in T’s name because it was smooshing over a bit. If a part of the screen didn’t quite burn all the way, you can carefully take a straight pin and scratch out any emulsion that might be hanging around in the way. Careful, though–too much adjusting can make the problem worse, but just enough will keep you from having to burn another screen.
9. After that, it’s just a matter of printing each card and setting it aside to dry. My Gocco kit came with one drying “rack” that lets the cards stand up without touching. After that gets filled it’s every flat space for itself. Make sure the printed areas don’t touch anything else until they dry and know that the heavier the ink coverage the longer the drying time. Since my cards only have printing on one end, I can stack them in offset layers to maximize space.
10. Finally, clean your screen if you ever want to use it again. With a piece of scrap paper under your screen, scrape up the remaining ink (you can store it in an airtight container if you want to reuse it and there’s enough to bother with) then wipe off the rest with tissues. My kit came with a small tube of OK Cleaner that does a great job of picking up any residue, though the screen stays stained. I then store my used screens in a quart-size freezer back to keep it from sticking to any of my other supplies.
If you run out of space or time and need to pick up printing another day, you can slip the inked screen into a freezer bag and store it in the fridge to keep it fresh and the ink from drying out.
It took quite some time–2 days and a little bit!–for my prints to dry due to a combination of high humidity and a little more ink getting through the screen than desired (that second d, I’m telling you…the bane of my existence), but by Wednesday night (I printed them on Sunday afternoon) they’d lost their tackiness enough that I could score and fold them. This part took no time at all since I’d picked up one of those scoring boards (thank you, Hobby Lobby coupon!) to help.
I know letterpress is the print darling du jour, but have you considered screen-printing any of your wedding stationery?