• What is a gocco?
It’s a tabletop screenprinting machine that was made in Japan and does not require a darkroom. They are no longer being manufactured, but are relatively easy to find and remain popular.
• Which model do you have?
I bought the PG-11, which I found used from Print Addict Japan on etsy. The PG-11 is nice because the registration bed can move around. If you really want to save money, you can get away with the model without the moving print bed…. Realistically, I don’t use it all that often.
• How does it do with type?
It does really well with type (see my invitations here). I used a script with very fine strokes, and I also printed our return address in a 6.5pt serif font and it looked great. NOTE: I have accidentally received some gocco ink that does terribly with type, and if you’re having trouble printing this wrong ink may be the culprit. The ink I use has a top with a diameter of about 11/16″. If you receive a tube of ink with a skinnier top, that ink may be too thin and cause small type to become illegible. The English part of the ink tube label is exactly the same, and the only difference I could tell was the size of the top. Maybe the top has nothing to do with it and it’s just a bad tube of ink… but ordering a new batch of ink may solve type troubles.
• What are the downsides to gocco?
I think the biggest downside with the gocco is how expensive the machine and supplies are (each time you do a print run it costs about $15 for just the screen & bulbs (plus shipping, ink, & paper!) And, occasionally, you do get bad bulbs. I also wish I could make larger prints — the maximum print size for the PG-11 is less than 4×6″.
• Are you happy with it?
Overall, I’m really happy with my gocco. I used to do screenprinting and don’t have the facilities for it anymore, so the gocco is a pretty good substitute. It’s a lot of fun and very satisfying to be able to print things yourself.
• Is it hard to use?
I had some screenprinting experience, which made things easier, I think, at the beginning. Once you get the hang of it, and learn what type of imagery works and doesn’t work with screenprinting, and how to do registration, etc. it is really very easy. I used the gocco for the first time to print my wedding invitations. We had a rocky start but eventually got the hang of it. For the first print run, I’d recommend playing around with something simple, and staying away from a full-on invitation project. I’ve never met a gocco user who hasn’t had their fair share of mishaps and frustrations!
• Has it saved you money?
We used expensive paper for our invitations and the gocco was expensive, so I’m not sure we saved much money on that specific project. However, we now have a gocco that we use often and in the long run, it has saved money on printing costs. Plus, the end product is beautiful. If you are thinking of purchasing it for one-time use for invitations, it will only be worth it if you can sell the machine afterward. Otherwise, I would be surprised if you save much money, and it does take a lot of time.
• Can you do bold patterns? (I’m thinking of your programs and your recently designed floral pattern invites.)
For patterns that are more than 2 colors or have tight registration, I use digital printing and do not gocco them (WAY too much work). I printed my programs digitally, because really it was much more cost & time effective (I had to do 180 of them, six pages each). I don’t usually do print runs unless I’m going to be printing 50+ copies, and bring print runs with multiple layers are pretty exhausting, to me at least. Of course, there is no limit to how many layers you can do.
• Can you print on fabric?
Yes! I haven’t tried it, but you can buy special fabric inks to use with the gocco.
• How do I make a print with a bleed?
For those who don’t know: A bleed is when the ink goes all the way to the edge of the page, like this. There are two ways you can do it. First (the way I did it) is that I tore up a bunch of scrap paper, and laid it beneath the print. So when I printed the flower image, the edges of the flower were actually being printed on the scrap paper, and the main part of the flower got printed on my invitation. Each time you do a print, you need a new piece of scrap paper to catch the ink that’s going off the edge of the invitation. The other way to do it is to print like normal, then tear your paper down to size so that it looks like the image runs off the edge.
• How long does a bulb last? How about a screen?
Bulbs last for one screen burning. It’s like those old photo bulbs, you get one shot! Screens are small so you can sometimes fit a couple of designs on there, depending. You can only burn a screen once, so it’s good to plan ahead. For example, if you’re printing return addresses on envelopes, that leaves a lot of room for another design! I’ve heard that you can clean screens for later re-prints, but haven’t had much luck myself.
• Should I buy new or used?
You should make sure it’s in good working condition, but… BUY USED! There are lots of people out there with good gocco intentions, who use the thing once or twice and then resell it. That way you’ll have a few extra bucks for extra supplies!
• Can you point me to other resources?
+ Northwood Studios has a good FAQ section.
+ Etsy has a how-to video.
+ The Small Object has a tutorial.
+ Lots of info on Save Gocco.
• Where do you get your supplies?
I have used Northwood Studios and Print Addict. Print Addict has higher shipping rates since they are located in Japan, but are very prompt and kind. I recommend Welsh Products (my favorite supplier) and you can also visit Save Gocco for suppliers.
• Do you know anything about Yudu?
No… but there are reviews on etsy!