View Full Version : print making newby - questions

09-13-2003, 11:18 AM
I doubt that anyone reading this will know less about print making than I do so here goes.
I have always been moderately interested in print making but recently was able to see a demonstration of the lithographic process using a stone. I'm hooked, I have to try it :)
I would like to know more about the hows and whys of this whole procedure. Any recomendations?
Also in searching on Google I found that the stones are so far out of my budget that they are not an option. I understand there are paper and metal plates. What are the pros and cons for these.
Also while searching I found some pictures of a "Lithographic Box Press"??
Does anyone have experience with one of these? They look like something that a person could make for themselves. Has anyone tried this? I have got so much to learn that I don't know where to begin. Any and all suggestions appreciated.
Bob B.

09-16-2003, 12:31 AM
Hi painterbug,

Let me first tell you that lithography is a very toxic method of printmaking due to the chemicals involved to process the images.
Here is a list of some of the materials used, so that you will understand why the process is toxic.

Gum arabic
Nitric acid
Phosphoric acid
tannic acid

The stones are so expensive because there is only one place in the world that they are quarried, and most stones used today are very old, antique stones. You also need a special lithography press to use the stones, and if large ones a couple of guys around to help you move it.

There are several other ways to do lithography using aluminum, zinc which require lacquering to prolong the printing life of the plates. Those can be put through a regular flat bed press due to the thinness of the metal. If you want to try lithography I suggest that you buy the book, "The Complete Printmaker," that is put out by Roundtable Press. You can often find this book on Amazon.com in either used or new categories. It is rather expensive, so I suggest a used book in decent condition. It is the bible for printmakers, and goes into detail about all printmaking methods.

I know nothing about a box press, but there is a 'damp box' for paper, or a 'litho roller storage box.' The litho rollers are very expensive, and used to be locked up when I was in college. I imagine it is the same today.

Do you have access to a press? A litho press? The proper press is as important as the materials used in any technique of printmaking. If you are really interested in learning about lithography I would suggest you take a class at your local college. I don't know if Jr. colleges in your area has a printmaking department, but most 4 year colleges do. It is worth the price of the class to have access to all the chemicals and other materials you need. Most ask for a lab fee, and you have to buy your own paper. For paper the best place is www.graphicchemical.com The supply printmakers all over the states and Canada.

I hope this helps somewhat. If you have any other questions I will try to answer them.

09-16-2003, 04:39 AM
This post talks about some kits which look like they're intended for schools and individuals, so don't look too toxic.
Litho kits thread (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=125378)

Maybe worth a try? :)

09-16-2003, 10:13 AM
Thanks Timelady and Sassybird,
The last thing I need is to bring highly toxic chemicals into the house, so thanks for pointing that out.

I checked out the URL to Dick Blick's Litho Thread Kits and they look very interesting. I will contact Blick to see if I can find out more about them.

I found the Lithographic box press in an old book as something the user could construct and Google found this site; http://www.printmakersmachine.com/gr26Lk-35b.html
Someone is building and selling them.

After doing some reading on the WEB I may be a little premature in focusing on the lithographic process anyway.

What I should probably ask, is what printmaking method will reproduce charcoal and pencil drawings with blended tonal values as opposed to cross hatching? It could be done with a laser printer or a copier but I'm looking for a more traditional approach.
Any suggestions??

09-16-2003, 11:01 AM
Aqua tint will give you the gradation of value you are looking for. You can easily build an aqua tint box. My husband built mine from a card board box, and I can give you the direcitions if you are interested.

Another method is using white ground which will give you soft lines like working with charcoal. You can apply it several different ways: a brush, your fingers, a popcicle stick or other such tools. Here is a receipe for white ground.

White Ground Receipe

1 cup Titanium White dry pigment
2 cups Ivory Snow, granulated
1/2 cup raw linseed oil
1 cup water

Have 16 oz measuring cup, glass slab, spatula & jar.
On to slab pour 1 cup titanium white, 2 cups ivory snow, mix.
Add 1/2 cup linseed oil, gradually mix.
Add 1 cup water, gradually mix.
Should have consistency of whipped cream.

You can get the titanium white dry pigment from Graphic Chemical, but the Ivory Snow granulated soap has been off the market for years. I'd recommend buying some bars of Ivory Soap, "99.44 percent pure" and grate it into granules and use that. Don't try to use detergent or concentrated Ivory Soap.

Dry Point

This is one of the simple ways of working a plate IMHO. All you need is a polished plate and a whistlers etching needle. You just draw on the plate like you would with a pencil with the needle to raise a burr that will hold the ink once the plate is wiped. You can use the dry point method on copper, aluminum, plexiglass, and zinc if you have good strong hands. I would suggest staying away from zinc plates. They are a real PITA to work with.


You can paint directly on a plate with watercolor or even ink if you keep it fairly thin. This will only give you one print, but they come out beautifully. I use plexiglass so that I can hold it up and check the coverage of the paint so that I get the viscosity right for what I want.

Those are just a few methods of printmaking. Once you get your books you will find many more that are fairly non toxic, and a lot of fun to do.

09-17-2003, 10:47 AM
"Aqua tint will give you the gradation of value you are looking for. You can easily build an aqua tint box. My husband built mine from a card board box, and I can give you the directions if you are interested. "

That sounds real interesting yes I would like directions, in the meantime I check to see if I can find a book or two on the subject.
Bob B.

09-17-2003, 03:29 PM
Er... aquatint is an etching-type process. So you need quite a lot of equipment, including an intaglio press and acid set-up. Also, it's VERY bad for you! Aquatint equipment in most colleges now require a trained health & safety officer. My teacher had an aquatint box and had quite a scare about a growth in her nasal passages (she has since invested in a professionally-build box with filters and filters in the room too). One of her teachers developed lung cancer from many years of working openly with aquatint. Please please please use it very carefully.

Bob, I'm sensing that you want to try something at home and easily accessible in terms of materials. Am I right? If so I think the litho kits and monoprints are probably a really good place for you to start. There is a monoprint lesson (might be in a sticky at the top of the forum?) that I wrote that can help you try it for minimal cost and materials. One of the main problems with much of printmaking is the need for expensive equipment. Many printmakers use shared equipment in colleges or hired studios for that reason.

There are several methods that can give you good variation in tone and line. Monprints, collographs, drypoint, soft-ground etching, aquatint, stone litho come to mind. All of those except monoprints and litho will require an intaglio etching press, so that might be the first thing you want to look for locally. See if a local college or community centre, or even a local artist, has a press you can either take classes on or hire by the hour or day. Most artists won't let you hire their press unless they're confident you know what you're doing but might be happy to give lessons. Harm can be done easily to blankets, press bed or the gears by someone who doesn't know how to operate - I know, I've broken my *own* press! Haha!



09-17-2003, 04:56 PM
Ok, your cautions are duly noted and appreciated. So how about screen printing? Can this be done with chemicals that won't cause a serious health risk to the people and little animals(dogs) that live in my house.
Bob B.

09-19-2003, 10:31 AM
Timelady and Sassybird,
Just a short bit to thank you both for being so helpful.
Dick Blick's Litho-Sketch printmaking materials have been ordered so in a few days that is what I'll be starting with.
:) :)
Bob B.

10-05-2003, 05:54 PM
Yes it can be accomplished quite easily. You will want to check out Roni Henning's book "Screenprinting: water-based techniques" She has a lot of suggestions (and inspirations) for mon-toxic methods in serigraphy. It may be available at your local library.

10-05-2003, 08:36 PM
Thanks Doug,
I have the Litho-Sketch Material now and want to try that, then it will be lino-block and on the screen printing. So many things to try so little time.:(
To top it off I must do (gasp) work and go to class too.:cat:
Bob B.

10-10-2003, 08:27 PM
Hey Bob,

Water-based inks for screen printing have come a long way. I use TW water-base inks, no toxic fumes and cleans up with water. Check out Andy's site http://www.squeegeeville.com/
He has lots of info. on screen printing and printing serigraphs using water-base inks.


10-10-2003, 09:28 PM
Thanks Rickt,
Pretty nice looking site. I bookmarked it so I can go back and spend more time browsing.
Thanks again,

10-12-2003, 01:44 PM
Bob, check out the PRint Gocco machine (I started a brief thread about it.)

It's a nifty little machine and can be used to make small prints.
It was originally marketed towards families for making christmas cards and such. I have 2 machines, one that makes 1/4 page prints and the other makes about a 7 x 9 print.

The kits also have screens that can be used for regular screen printing as well.

Check out the following yahoo group for more info:
Subscribe: [email protected]

or go to the following website:


I've seen some of the machines floating around on Ebay, but make sure to go to the yahoo site and ask Simon from Nehoc a few questions before just jumping in an buying-- some of the models on ebay are quite old....

Have fun!

10-28-2003, 05:04 PM
I guess that my original Print Gocco thread got deleted because it was construed to be "spam"....

I assure you, I didn't mean my post as "spam"! :(

Let me please clarify...

1) I don't sell these machines. I just use them. I have no affliation with the product website I mentioned--To me, it's just a very rich source of information about using my little machine-- especially since the original product came from Japan and I cannot read Japanese....

2) I have no idea what else to call the machine-- most of the artists who use it call their prints "gocco prints". It is a silk-screen process, but I haven never seen any other machine like it in terms of the simplicity of use-- especially since I have not training in printmaking (except lithography and that required quite a bit of instruction and machinary that I can't afford to use.

3) I was hoping to find other artists at wetcanvas who use this machine to learn and share our techiques with each other.... I'm still learning about printmaking and how to register prints, etc... I need as much help as possible!

4) Among the uses I've found for the print gocco-- printing designs on fabric, etching glass and of course printing on paper....(others have used it to print on ceramic, polymer clay and other materials... I am still learning new techniques myself-- hopefully other artists who are familiar with screenprinting in general can give me ideas and tips for how to do screen printing (registering a CMYK print, etc.)



10-28-2003, 08:37 PM
Not familiar with the machine! Lots of info. on the web about it. Most fine art prints they do not use four-color process. Do you have a specific question regarding the screenprinting process? I might be able to help with it!


10-30-2003, 10:54 AM
Actually, a really cool thing about the printgocco is that you can print multi-colors on 1 screen all at the same time! :-)

(as long as the colors are separated by a little distance they won't migrate.)

I'm going to try a 2-tone print soon... with multiple screens.. A little scared because I've only done 1-screen prints with multi-colors... but never a multi-screen print-- I am not looking forward to having to do the registrations... I want to do a CMY print as well, but for right now, I'm just taking baby steps...

10-30-2003, 11:32 AM
Thanks pinkbubelz and rickyt
I did a Google on Gocco and got lots of hits, even Dick Blick carries the machines and supplies. I have so much to learn and so little time, sigh! Actually now that I'm retired I don't know how I ever found time for work??

:D :D

BTW, I am pleased to get this information and I do not consider it spam because it. A. relates to my original question and B. you are not promoting something you have a financial interest in.

Thanks again,
Bob B.

10-31-2003, 08:11 AM
Hey, Do you have a light table for seperations? I built my own using a drafting table. Now that drafting is done on computers you can pick them up real cheap or free, paid $50 for mine. Cut out the inside leaving about six inches around the edge, inserted a piece frosted glass. Bought a flourescent light fixture and mounted it under. Works great and paid less than $100 total! Tried to attach a pic but it said it was to large. duhhh! This is a neccesity for doing seperations.

When doing multi-color you have to register the colors so everything lines up. If say the first color( the lightest) is trapped under the second you could get by with out them. I make my own registration marks using 8.5 x 11 clear film, they are a circle (1/4" dia.) with a cross hair centered. Typically they are positioned to print on the edge of the paper then cut off after the art is printed.
There is another option if your only going to print a few, make some tabs of paper and attach to the print paper back, they will stick out and your registration mark will print on it. Then when the print is finished you will remove them and you do not have to cut the paper.


10-31-2003, 10:13 AM
If you line up your first run with "z" tabs (strips of paper folded like a z shape that are them taped to the table as catches for your paper- you put 2 z tabs on each of 2 sides), so that every pull is printed in the same spot on each sheet of paper, than you only have to line up your first pull of each colour, put in the z tabs for that colour, than tape off your registration marks so that they don't print.
An alternative to that is to put masking tape around the corners of your paper so that you will just put the paper in between the tape corners, thereby getting the print on the same place on the sheet every time.
I will try to take pics this week and post them.
I was a screen printer for a over a year and am currently taking screen printing in college. I love it. I just finished 3 out of 4 colours of a Christmas card. We've done tshirts, and posters as well so far.
The ink that we are using in school is water based (basically thick acrylic craft paint.) I have heard of people using latex house paint as well. When I worked in a shop, we used petroleum based ink. The benefit being that it would last longer, and you didn't have to worry about it drying in your screen for a long time- which is a problem with water based inks.

10-31-2003, 08:44 PM
Pinkbubelz, as I have said I'm not familiar with the "Gocco" press so I'm not exactly how this will apply to that paticular press. Here are the steps for registering a multi-color print. So say you have a color seperation done and ready to print. Typically colors are printed light to dark.

(1) Take say your border seperation and tape it to a sheet of the paper you will be printing on. You need a seperation that you can measure from edge of paper to image to get it positioned where the actual print will be on the paper. This is called a "setup sheet".

(2) Next you put the first color screen in the press. Most manual and auto press have micro-registration, it allows you to adjust the press by moving it in the x,y axis. Not sure if you have this feature. Then put you "setup sheet" on the press, lower the screen and adjust paper till screen image/registration marks are perfectly lined up with setup-sheet. Basically push/shove paper till image is in registration. Does this "Gocco" have a vacuum table? This is necessary for printing on paper, it keeps the paper from moving during printing. At this point you would turn on the vacuum.

(3) Most if not all printers use "three point registration". Simply put you have to have something to butt your paper to so that it is positioned in the same place everytime. Myself and everyone I know who prints serigraghs use the same technique. We take vinyl (like a bumper sticker is printed on) and cut into 1/2" to 1" squares, which ever size you like. Once cut into squares remove the backing and stick them together leaving the backing on the bottom piece. You want the thickness less than your paper thickness. Then take your scizzors and cut one edge staight, this will butt against your paper. You will need three, one left side bottom corner and two on the bottom of the sheet. Positioned left bottom and the other about 3/4 way across. Using the straight edge you cut peal off the backing and butt it to your paper, make sure it is perfectly square. Now you have registration guides! You can now move your setup sheet and re-register it again by butting against bottom first then moving it to the left against the other. With this method you can feel the tabs with you hands as you position the paper. If you have micro-registration on this press you could then use it to fine-tune register it. Everytime you butt a piece of paper it will then be in the same spot. On most presses the screen is stationary and the table moves for adjutments.

(4) Each color is printed seperately, then let dry. Using the same set-up piece, next color same process!! The problem with taping up registration marks is that if registration gets off and it can. If you have nothing in the design to reference to telling you it is off you could very well say get to the fifth color in a five color print and it not line up. It really depends on the design and how tight the registration is. With printing the registration marks you can tell if it is off and adjust it either by moving tabs or using micro-registration.

There are variables involved with printing on paper, humidity for one. Which can effect registration considerably. Not sure how this will apply to your press. Tried to make it as short and simple as possible! Hope this helps!


11-03-2003, 11:49 AM
Wow... it sounds so complicated to register the prints!

The gocco machine isn't really a press (the way you are thinking of it) and it is not that complicated in terms of use. The version of the machine I have doesn't do anything like micro- registration... unfortunately....

I am intrigued by the descriptions of how to register-- was wondering if you could post some pictures to show me-- I think I get what has been described, but I think pictures would really help me! :-)

Here's another question... I have decided to just "jump in" and am going to do a 3 color print in CMY... is there a particular order I need to do to lay down the colors?

or does it really matter?

The image I am printing is an abstracted image of trees and a sun-set...

I haven't decided 100% if I'm going to use only CMY or just 3 different ink colors.... but If I do use CMY, I'd like to get an idea of how I need to lay down the colors for maximum effectiveness....


11-03-2003, 11:59 AM
Oh, and I forgot...

I did my "separations" via a computer (well, it's technically not separations in the CMYK sense, but 3 different images that I intend to print in different color inks.)

What I did was to put a black rectangle around the images which will be in the size of the paper (4-1/4" x 5-1/2") My image is slightly smaller-- about 5" x 3.36"
Not sure really how I am going to be able to figure out the actual registration...

In the past, I haven't done multi-screen printing, only 1 -screen printing with multi-colors....

Here's what I think I'll do...(and this is in relationship to my gocco machine.)

1) flash the image onto the screen. There is a sticky pad where the original sticks to the pad.
2) Ink the screen.
3) I will then line up my artwork with the original using the paper-sized square to line it up.
3) Tape the screen to the press so that it won't move around.
4) Hopefully I will be able to lay my papers right down within the paper outlines and "away I go"

Luckily my images are not requiring EXACT registration, so it has a little give and take which will hopefully be forgiving if I am not 100% registered....

I'll let everyone know if this is successful or not... :-)


11-03-2003, 12:00 PM
Traditionally in offset printing one would print the yellow, followed by magenta, cyan and the black. I've found it easier to print magenta so I could have a better visual reference for the following colors. Then again offset inks are quite thin and tranparent. Is the Gocco ink transparent? If it isn't too much trouble, try it a couple of different ways. It would be great to see your results.

11-07-2003, 10:25 PM
Here is a link you might find usefull. http://www.phildynan.com/serigraph1.html
It walks you through a ten color seigraph. It might give you a better perspective on the process of registering multi-color print.

Try taping your seperations together in the printing order, first color on bottom. Tape them at the top so you can lift each color and see how each lays on top of each color. They are on clear film? Then say on the kitchen table place a piece of the of the paper to be printed on under the seperation. Measure to get the art/image square exactly where it would print on the paper. Tape the top of your seperation down to the table and then make your the three tabs. Make sure sheet does not move and put your butt guides down. You can use any material like a piece of paper stock taped to the table. Use the three-point registration as described before, it basically forms a 90 angle to butt your paper against everytime. Once everything is taped down you can now remove the print paper and replace it. The paper is re-positioned in the same spot each time. This should give you a better idea of how that works by lifting the colors and how they will register to each other. This is actually how hand-cut seperations are done except on a light table. By placing film on the art, identify the first color then cut that one out. Another piece clear film on that, identify the second color then cut that one out etc. Placing registration marks on each sheet, can be as simple as a marking a + with a opaque pen or mars-o-lot on the film.

I have a six color A/P I just printed but having problems getting it attached. Getting an error that it is to large, not the file size. As soon as I figure out the problem will get it out there! Try this I think it will give you an better idea, let me know.


11-09-2003, 10:58 PM
I tried to upload the picture of my gocco print, but for some reason it won't upload.

It is 176 K.... could that be a reason?

If someone can tell me how else I could attach it to this post, I'd really appreciate it-- I wanted others to see how it looks after it's been printed!


11-09-2003, 11:14 PM
Tried again... still doesn't work... :-(

11-28-2003, 05:03 PM
I just signed up for a short (hour and a half) Print Gocco workshop for Dec. 8, and found your thread on here. I'm excited to try it, and they said to bring in photocopies of small images (4"x6" I wanted to print.

Hopefully after the workshop I'll have retained enough information to talk to you about this more... if you can figure out how to upload your image, I'd love to see it!

11-28-2003, 06:02 PM
Are you trying attach or upload? Does it give you an error? If so what is it? I finally got mine on so I might can help!


11-30-2003, 07:14 PM
I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I tried to "upload" the image.
I don't have it anywhere online where you can get a link to it. :-(

I think that my file was simply too big... I'll see if somehow I can make the image smaller and try again...

jeaberg-- where are you at? I hope you have fun with it!

Make sure that if you are going to photocopy an actual PHOTO vs. Line art, that you use the half-tone screens (you can get them at drafting / art supply stores--it puts little white dots on your image.) OR if you have access to a copier or computer that can do that automatically to your image, that would be good.

The PRint Gocco is best suited for line art and pictures without a lot of solid dark areas. if you have large dark solid areas, you will need to use the half-tone screen so that the ink doesn't come through too thickly... (if that makes any sense...).

I think you will have a lot of fun and may be ready to jump in and buy a new machine for yourself once you have finished the workshop! PM me if you need the yahoogroup info-- there is a really active yahoo group which does the gocco prints-- we recently had an international print exchange between 15 artists from the U.S. and australia and always welcome newbies... :-)


12-01-2003, 10:40 AM
Hi Pinkbubelz-

I joined the Yahoo group; I'm so excited about jumping into printmaking; I've been just painting for 8 years!

So, it seems like line art is the best way to go at first- I think I'll just bring in some simple line drawings and see what I can do with those.

I haven't tried to upload anything here, yet, but from what I've read on different threads, your file has to be a certain size- maybe do a little search.

I'll upload a print next week after my workshop- woooeeee! I'm sure it'll be a lovely mess of a first attempt.

12-02-2003, 05:01 PM
Make sure you join the "gocco-printers" group and not the the "gocco" group. The "gocco" group is unfortunately unmoderated (I think the original "owner" of the "gocco" group passed away a few yrs ago and it gets way too much spam...)

However, the "gocco-printers" group IS moderated and gives a lot of really useful info (especially if you can find the time to go through the archives.) Even the original group is good, if you can set it to "no emails"-- it has several thousand emails from when it was first formed which are very informative.


I am hoping I can find other gocco artists on WC-- perhaps enough to actually do a print exchange project down the road...
(we recently did one with 14 artists on the Yahoo group).

12-02-2003, 05:06 PM
I think you'll find the machine so easy to use that you'll be addicted to "gocco-ing" in no time at all! :-)

I'll try to re-scan my picture and see if I can make the file smaller so that I can share it with everyone!


12-03-2003, 10:28 AM
I'm pretty sure that's the group I joined. I have my little drawing all ready to go for Monday. Hopefully we can find some other Gocco printer people here. I had never heard of it until a week ago- I guess it's just not a really well known little item here in the States.

03-01-2004, 01:04 AM
Bumping this back to the top again! :)

I hope there are other people out there who are gocco users! Maybe we can start a gocco project sometime down the road!


05-11-2004, 12:20 AM
Another bump to the top, with info on the gocco. :D