Hand-Made Alphabet Print- The Process! Part 1

I had a lot of fun making my recent Black Keys poster. I was very pleased with the character and movement I was able to achieve with just a pair of scissors, some shapes and a few magazine pages.

I have also wanted to created another alphabet print for some time now, so I decided to sit down and have a go at creating a hand-cut alphabet print, using only basic shapes and my hands.

I began the process by sketching the alphabet using only basic shapes and forms.  Once I was happy with my rough solution for each letterform, I grabbed a pair of scissors and one sheet each of red and black construction paper.

Using the sketches as a rough guide, I quickly freehand-cut basic shapes in varying sizes and forms and began arranging them until I was happy with their resemblance to each letter of the alphabet.

Using packing tape, I simply taped each letter to one, Letter sized piece of computer paper to hold it in place.  I repeat this process until I am happy with all 26 letters.

Next, I will scan the two pieces of paper containing my alphabet into the computer, and prepare the art for printing.

Working with the two different color papers will allow me to easily color separate the images and prepare them for screen printing.

Once into the computer, I enlarge the art and prepare for press.

I will be hand-printing this art in a few different sizes and colors next time I head to the print shop.

I will continue documenting the printing/creative process in a few days when it goes to print.

Here is a mock-up of one of the color schemes that this will be printed in.


Gocco Print- A process post!

Hi, Folks!

Most people wake up on Super Bowl Sunday and start cracking beers over their head or painting their faces or whatever.  NOT ME!  I felt making two new versions of a popular Gocco print of mine AND documenting its process was THE WAY TO GO!!!

What I love most about my Gocco printer, is that it allows for easy, high-quality “Sunday morning, dining room table fun.”  It is wireless, self contained and stored in my office closet when not in use. There isn’t sn easier way to make a hand-printed image in your own home than the Print Gocco.

First Up–  The Supplies.

The short list:  A photocopy of the art I will be printing (the “burning” of the screens works on a scientific formula involving heat and carbon, hence the photocopy), a cutting mat, a blade,  a ruler, some pre-cut 8″ x 10″ French Paper (white and Newsprint Speckletone),  ink for this project, and the ever-handy adhesive foam which you will learn about later.  Of course there are a few more supplies, but you will see them in just a bit.

Step 1: Prepping the Bulbs

As mentioned before, the way the Gocco exposes an image (meaning, burning your image into the screen, allowing ink to pass through ONLY those areas that you want to create a print from) is through a process beyond my comprehension involving heat and carbon melding together on the screen.  We have the carbon already (with the photocopied version of my art) and now comes the heat.  To create this heat, I insert 4 Gocco Lamp Bulbs into the Lamp station.  Once twisted  nice and tight, they are ready to go.  More on this in a bit.

Prepping My image: With the lightbulbs ready to go, I now switch my focus to the image.  You may have noticed the black box around my art in the previous post.  That box is to show me the print size (8 x 10) of the image and I will next cut the photocopy down to size.  I do this to avoid fussing and nudging the art around while exposing the screen.  With the template I have on the bottom of the press (you will see this in a bit) I know that if the paper is lined up square to that, regardless of its positioning on the screen or press, it will create perfectly straight and centered prints.

With my photocopy cut to size and bulbs in the Lamp Housing, I am just about ready to get expose my screen and “burn” my image into it for printing.  Print Gocco comes with a special Blue transparency sheet that I assume is to block out some of the UV rays from the bulbs.  It is designed to rest in between the lamps and screen during the exposing process, as seen below.

Next, I close the press and insert the lamp casing into its home.

With the blue screen inserted in front of my screen and my photocopy on the press, I am now ready to burn the image!  This part is the most “exciting” for sure.

I press down on the press (no pun intended) and the mechanisms inside of the gocco cause the four bulbs to EXPLODE!!!!  This explosion gives me the heat required to cause the carbon based photocopy and my screen to mingle with each other and burn away only the areas in which my drawing resides.

I then take the bulb housing out of the machine, and put it aside to cool.  These burnt bulbs smell pretty bad too!

Next, I remove the blue UV screen from the press, as well as the  burnt screen that I will be printing with and begin the inking process.

I am planning on doing 2 variations of this print, so I start with the lighter version.

Remember the Adhesive Foam from before?  It is now time to use it!  I cut small strips of it and attach it to my screen as seen below:

This is one of my favorite features of the Gocco. By planning ahead with your illustration and using this foam, it allows you to print two different ink colors at one time.  The foam acts as a barrier and keeps your inks from crossing the border and messing up your print.

Now that I have separated my ink areas, I am ready to apply the ink.  Gocco Ink comes in small tubes (similar to travel size toothpaste) and and in a variety of colors. For this first print, I am using Metallic Gold and Brown.

We are almost ready to print!

I close the plastic sheet that is attached to the screen (used to keep the ink in place and contained), slide the screen back into the same, locked in position that it was when we burnt the screen and we are good to go.

Before getting started though, I realized I need some music to print to! So i head on over to the bookshelf and turn on the ipod. (Prints by Lucky Bunny, Berkley Illustration, Handmade Plush Penguin by ZooGuu, Original Wax painting by Amy Ruppel and two, super cute books that my fiance’ Jen Skelley just illustrated.)

With my paper in place, and ink on the screen, I am ready to go.

The Gocco printing process works sort of like a stamp, and requires me to push down on the screen, smooshing the ink through the burnt screen and releasing the ink onto the paper.


A firm push down and a finger-croseed, deep breath later, I lift up the press to see if it all worked out. It did!  Hooray!

Everything looks perfect, so I repeat the printing process 45 times until I have gone through all of my paper.

While I wait for the prints to dry (about an hour), I begin prepping to print the second version of this print.

Another great thing about the Gocco is, with a little time and patience, you can clean out the screen in the sink and re-use it again, saving you the time, trouble and costs of burning more screens.

To make this print as appealing as possible to folks, I figured I would make sense to offer it in a black and silver color scheme because not all rooms and decor work with brown, right?

Since everything is the same, once I am inked up, I am ready to print immediatey.

I insert the screen back into place, put my white paper on the press and viola!

Everything looks great, and I am thrilled to have another stress/problem free print session with my trusty ol’ Gocco.

But before I finish up, the Boss (Mugatu) wants to give things a onceover to make sure I am abiding to all safety codes, etc.

He gives me the greenlight and I finish up the print run.

Hope you enjoyed this process post and I did an ok job of explaining how the Print Gocco works.