Adventures in Gocco, part 2.

Sorry about the delay…I realized that my small business taxes are due, like, tomorrow and I’ve got a lot of bookkeeping backlog. (Surely this is the least fun part of starting a little crafting business!)

But back to the Gocco Guide — part 1 is right here, in case you missed it. Now where were we? Oh yes, in tears of failure. Sigh.

Step 10.
As you are running errands, remember that you read a little mention online that you can use a gocco screen for a traditional, squeegee’d screenprinting approach instead of “stamping” the image with the kit. Decide that it’s worth a try since there’s nothing else to do with the screen.

Step 11.
Find scrap of cardboard and mark registration lines so that the screen and paper match up. Also, fish old ID card out of desk and decide that it will make a perfectly suitable squeegee.

Setting up my registration board.

Step 12.
Squirt ink onto the screen, crossing fingers that it won’t be wasted (like that half a tube you just used).

Laying down new ink.

Step 13.
Mush ink around screen with card. Realize that it would have been a good idea to find a screenprinting video on Youtube since you’ve never seen this done before, but oh well.

The old-ID-card-as-squeegee method.

Step 14.
Pull paper away from screen…

Peeling back the print...

Step 15.
Hooray, it worked! You’re a screenprinting genius!

...And it worked!

Okay, so “genius” is a little extreme. The new prints don’t look perfect, per se, but the spread of ink is much, much smoother and any white patches are definitely due to lack of ink instead of who-knows-what. The prints turned out a little darker than I would like since my ID card applies a little too much pressure…might look into getting a real squeegee one of these days. I do plan to apply a 2nd screen with some black details on top, but since I used all mine up I’m stuck waiting for a new shipment to arrive.

The contrast between the two printing methods.

They’re not there yet, but I hope that a batch of gocco’d birdies will be roosting in the shop in another two weeks or so.

Hurrah for Gocco after all!

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Adventures in Gocco, part 1.

I’ve been trying to decide how best to tell this story, since my first Gocco attempt turned out to be more of an “adventure” than an upfront success. As much as I’d like to say that I nailed it the first time, the truth is that this little guy caused an awful lot of frustration to radiate out from our dining room on Saturday. So, without further ado, I present Paulabirdy’s Guide to the Tempestuous Process of Creating Your First Gocco Print.

May your own adventures proceed much, much more smoothly!

(Note: this is not a tutorial! There are plenty of those out there already in internet-land, starting with this very nice one by The Small Object.)

Step 1.
Open box of materials shipped expensively from Japan. Admire ink colors and contemplate how much you like the smell of printing materials.

Admiring my new inks.

Step 2.
Spread kit all over dining room table. Read through booklet and play with cool new equipment.

Admiring my new gocco.

Step 3.
Attempt to burn first screen according to directions. Fail to snap lamp fixture fully in place because you are afraid of accidentally setting off bulbs. Only one bulb goes off as a result, and screen is only partially exposed.

Screen-burning attempt no. 2.

Step 4. (not shown)
Frown deeply at apparatus, contemplating how expensive the bulbs + screen were and wondering if there’s something wrong with your kit. Decide that it must be user error, so mount 2nd screen and two new bulbs.

Step 5.
Success–the new master looks fine! Apologize to kit for thinking nasty thoughts and happily spread a thick layer of ink all over design.

Spreading the ink.

Step 6.
Lower screen over paper and press firmly. Anxiously anticipate results.

Making the first print...

Step 7.
Remove print, which looks really terrible. Nasty thoughts return.

Yuck! 

Step 8.
Repeat steps 5-7, resulting in a number of portraits of Mr. Cardinal with a bad case of the blotchies. Contemplate total cost of Gocco materials + possbility that the entire adventure will end in failure. Decide that, now that 2 masters and 4 bulbs have been wasted, you will need to revise your entire design.

Quadruple yuck!

Step 9.
Try not to start crying when husband asks how everything is going. Decide you might as well go and do some errands, since the first half of your precious Saturday has been wasted.

To be continued….

It came!!

I have been a very good and patient girl as I have waited (and waited and waited) for a special Etsy order to arrive. It wasn’t the seller’s fault–she said very clearly that she wouldn’t be shipping anything until January 15. But when you’ve placed the order on January 2, it still seems like ages.

And what, you might ask, have I been waiting for?

I bought my very own Gocco!!

So tune in next week for Paulabirdy’s new adventures in screenprinting!

And because it feels like a shame to have a post with no pics…

Quail cards.

Sparrow cards.

Bye-bye lino cuts, hello gocco!

In which I pretend to be a scientist.

A characterization of the scientific method, courtesy of wikipedia

  1. Define the question
  2. Gather information and resources (observe)
  3. Form hypothesis
  4. Perform experiment and collect data
  5. Analyze data
  6. Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis
  7. Publish results
  8. Retest (frequently done by other scientists)

An application of the scientific method to the Wheatland Express bus route, courtesy of me:

  1. Question defined: Is the number of minutes that the bus arrives after the scheduled time inversely proportional to the temperature?
  2. Information gathered: 1 to 2 times on weekdays, January 1-January 24, 2008.
  3. Hypothesis formed: When it’s cold, it’s late.
  4. Experiment performed, data collected: Walked to and from bus-stop in weather ranging from 6 to 20 degrees F, noted time that bus arrived.
  5. Analysis of data (sample): 6 deg. F, 17 minutes late; 10 deg. F., 15 minutes late; 15 deg. F., 12 minute late.
  6. Data interpreted, new hypothesis formed: 1) I was right; 2) people around here can’t drive in the snow.
  7. Results published: You’re reading it.
  8. Retesting: After attempting to calculate ratio between temperature and lateness, arrived 7 minutes late in 14 degree weather. Result: Was a block away when the bus arrived at the stop, deposited passengers, and kept on going. Was forced to run over icy sidewalks to next stop.

Conclusion: Failure of scientific method.

(I’d like to thank Logos School and my dad for this brilliant feat of logic and the application of science to real-life situations. Thank you.)

Etsy photos, take four.

Taking photos for the shop has turned out to be a much bigger hassle than I had ever imagined. I mean, I like taking pictures + I like arranging stuff, so I figured that the photos would be the least of my problems. Not true! Between finding the “perfect” spot, coming up with lots of little vignettes, and creating the right lighting conditions, it has turned out to be an ongoing source of frustration.

Alphabirdybet print...for Etsy.

The lighting is the main problem, of course–our apartment really only gets good light within four feet of the front windows between, say, 10 am and 2 pm.  On a good day. Since I’m usually not home at this time, it means that sunny Saturdays are my only option.

More Alphabirdybet prints!

I’ve tried to work around this in the past by using various artificial setups in my craft room and even hauling all my stuff to a very generous friend’s house, but I still wasn’t completely happy with the results. So this weekend I tried again.

A Bird for All Seasons.

This time I didn’t even try to shoot with any light that wasn’t natural, so I set everything up in our little entryway. I used our coffee table and the framed Ikea fabric from our bedroom and just made everyone a lot simpler. And you know what? I am so much happier with the results! 

Mr. Cardinal, again.

It’ll be kind of a pain to switch all the old photos out (making any change to an Etsy listing requires going through about 5 webpages for each item…and I have a lot of items now), but I think it will be worth it.

Mr. Puffin, again.

This little guy has flown (or is it waddled?) away already, but Mr. Cardinal is still there. :)

(Oh, and in case you’re interested…it’s STILL cold outside. The heat’s back on, but now the electricity’s all wonky–a third of our outlets work fine, a third don’t work at all, and a third are at about 25%. I’ve never seen the last one before, but it exists: the little lanterns in our front window have only a very faint glow right now. Weird, huh?)

Baby, it’s cold outside.

When I left the house this morning, it was 6 degrees Farenheit outside. I mention this little fact because a) the bus has been running late (30 min. yesterday morning, 20 min. last night) so I’ve had a front-row seat of the weather, and b) the heat is out in our entire apartment complex right now.

Our very responsible landlord left a message yesterday apologizing for the room temp and explaining that things should be back on track this afternoon, so I’m not complaining. These things happen in old buildings. Nope, I’m just remarking that when it’s 6 degrees (or less) outside and you’ve got no heat, you starts thinking about things like the possibility of getting frostbite in your own bed. And whether your fooffy showdog really has enough survival instincts to curl up in a little ball to keep herself warm.

(The answers, happily, have been “no” and “yes,” respectively.)

I tried messing around with postcard/business card ideas during lunch today, but everything looked terrible. Will try again tomorrow…when it’s warmer.

Pretty birds all in a row.

I managed to start and finish something in only a week – now that’s progress!

Pretty birds all in a row.

The new painting was done in watercolor, gouache, and ink on rough watercolor paper. I found that my pen trips a bit on the paper’s surface, leading to a few extra blotches and blobs. Adds character, right?

Prettybirds detail.

The parrot is an homage to my sister’s green-cheeked conure, Stewart. (Or just “Bird Stew”, if you prefer.) Hmm, he’s a lot cuter when he’s not biting anyone.

Prettybirds detail.

The budgie is in memory of all the ones I’ve kept as pets over the years (= many), although I’m not sure we ever had a yellow and blue one.

All the other birds are for decorative purposes only, but there are some that I’ve drawn so many times now (like the bluebird and cardinal) that they’re beginning to feel like old friends. Part of my imaginary aviary, perhaps?

Prettybirds postcard sample.

I think I’ll turn the painting into a postcard instead of the usual print, since I’ve been wanting a new freebie to add to my Etsy orders. Might just go ahead and change my business card as well, since I’m almost out of the first batch. I was going to ask for your opinions on this design, but it’s looking a little color-by-technicolor, eh? Hmm. Back to Photoshop.

Anyhow, excusing the neon glow, what do you think? And do you like the new font? (Thank you, Dafont.) I liked my old one, but it could be a little spindly and I can’t find a version that will open on my Mac. Am hoping that Danoise will be a little friendlier…I prefer the look of Ecolier, but I can’t get the file to open just now.

Tidying up.

So I opened a Flickr account a while back because WordPress told me that I was running out of room and wanted me to pay to upgrade. Being somewhat cheap, I opted for the freebie – load photos into Flickr, place link in WordPress. But then I ran out of room in Flickr (free room, that is) and finally had to upgrade to a pro account. Sigh. Does this remind anyone of the Windows Vista/Mac OS X.whatever situation? Hey, you can’t that thing you used to do anymore! At least, not until you pay us some money to upgrade your operating system!

Anyhoo, I decided that now that I’m paying some hard-earned money for my Flickr account, I might as well clean house a bit. So I made a bunch of new sets and put all my photos into nice little stacks and bundles.

Voila! Even virtual housekeeping makes you feel good afterward.

New birds on the block.

Please say hello and how d’ya do to my two new friends, Mr. Puffin and Mr. Cardinal.

Mr. Puffin

Mr. Cardinal

As you can probably tell tell, Mr. Puffin is the more opinionated of the two. But I’m sure that Mr. Cardinal could turn around and give you a piece of his mind if he wanted to.

These newbies just made their way into ye olde shoppe, which has been languishing a little due to lack of attention. But I plan to fix that soon, oh yes I do. I’ve got something rather large and bulky up my sleeve that might be just-the-thing to drag me off the couch and back to the kitchen table. (It’s quite nice to know that I’m not the only one who feels that way!)

I thought about spilling the beans right now, but I think I might wait just a little longer. I managed to make myself draw for a little while last night when I was stuck on the couch feeling lousy, so I think my enthusiasm might be returning.  Mr. Puffin and Mr. Cardinal were supposed to be little samples, but they turned out rather differently than I’d expected and I think I’m going to move in another direction. But it will be a fun one – you’ll see!

I hope you have a lovely weekend drawing, painting, or curling on the couch. :)