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All Hail the Print Gocco!

All Hail the Print Gocco!

Amy Wilson

About two weeks ago, I was killing time and avoiding doing real work by checking out the site On Etsy, people sell their wares (t-shirts, tote bags, etc) and what I saw over and over was some really nice screenprinting on different homemade items. Where were all these craftspeople getting access to a press? Home screenprinting is a huge pain – it’s messy and you need a lot of space and exacting conditions, for starters. I’ve never been able to get it to work.

So there I was, jealously looking at all these listings until I found one that the young woman who was selling some shirts wrote, “These images are gocco’ed onto the fabric…” and I realized there was a word there I had never heard. I googled “gocco” and wound up here … I read some more and googled some more and before I knew it, I was on a grand quest to buy myself a Print Gocco.

They’re hard to find in NY, but after a little legwork I wound up at NY Central Art Supply where they had two left in the case (I bought one and one of my students bought the other. I assume they have more on the way?). I finally tried it out today. And oh my god…

But I’m getting ahead of myself. So, what is a Print Gocco?

They’re made in Japan. And in the box is a little kit that you use to make prints. Everything takes place inside this little self-contained plastic box – there is no separate darkroom, no chemicals that you have to mess with. The “darkroom” and everything is somehow ingeniously contained in this box. The whole thing is made for people who live in apartments to make their own prints – whereas you really need to live in a house (with a big tub and plenty of spare room) to make standard silkscreen prints, to make Goccos all you need is a kitchen table. (I PROMISE you this is true. There is zero mess. There is zero smell. I was up and running in ten minutes with my first prints done, and I’m someone who finds it hard to follow directions the first time through.)

You wind up with a print that looks an awful lot like a traditional screenprint:

(The roughness of the texture of the bark on the tree comes from the way in which I drew it, not from the process itself.)

This might be the single most clever art supply I have ever encountered. You can print on just about anything, and I keep thinking it will lend itself well to making cards, stickers, t-shirts, and – what I bought it for – artist’s books. Again, I can’t overstress how easy it was and how I had my first prints done so quickly and easily.


Ok, possible drawbacks:

Purchasing the thing was difficult, first because it was hard to find and secondly because it was $200. (You can get them on ebay for around $130, but then you have to pay for shipping from Japan which drives the price up to at least that.) However, absolutely everything you need to make two screens and a ton of prints are in the kit, and I think that if you bought the equivilant in silkscreening materials, you’d be out as much if not more.

The replacement parts – new screens, lightbulbs, ink, etc – are all made by the company that makes the kit… which has me scared to find out how much they will cost me. I haven’t crossed this bridge yet, and I still think – given the no mess, the ease of printing, etc. – that purchasing this thing was a great investment.

Ok, I am very excited now! I have a new toy and a ton of ideas to put it to good use.

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