All about Risograph Printing リソグラフ

The Risograph is a copier made in Japan by the Riso Kagaku Corporation.  Pronounciation guide: リソグラフ (ree-so graph)

The Risograph is an automated mimeograph released in Japan way back in 1986. It was designed mainly for high-speed, high-volume photocopying and printing in an office environment. When printing multiples (generally more than 20) of the same image, it is typically far less expensive per page than a conventional photocopier, laser printer, or inkjet printer. For schools, clubs, and other short-run print jobs, the Risograph bridges the gap between a standard photocopier (which is cheaper up to about 50 copies) and using a commercial printer (cheaper over about 10,000 copies).

color1.jpg
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It is also better for the environment than regular digital printers or photocopiers. The machine itself is energy efficient, and uses recycled, uncoated paper. It also only prints with soy-based ink, which is better than toner in appearance, and does not require the extra process of setting the ink with heat, as photocopiers do with toner.

rose blake

rose blake

It looks like a bulky photocopier, but inside it has a silkscreen mesh that is uses to print, along with stencils made from a roll of banana paper. It uses spot colours in a limited palette of vibrant inks. The finish of the print is similar to both lithography and silkscreen, with results that are sometimes unpredictable. Oh, and it prints FAST!

So, How can I use this process as an artist? Spot colour means that each colour is printed separately, and layered to create new colours. This can be used to great advantage to create beautiful effects. I love how 2-3 colours can be blended together to recreate hand painted tones, or how the semi-opaque quality of the inks can lends itself to very clean layers. There is a limited palette, sure, but sometimes working with restrictions helps you to make something you wouldn't have thought of normally. It forces you to learn to work with what you have. Anyway, there are beautiful florescent colours, a metallic gold, and plenty of subtle greens, reds and blues to work with. Keep in mind, though, that not many places will have the full range of colours available (they are hard to come by, and you would need a very large storage area!).

Ashley Ronning

Ashley Ronning

Cost is also something to consider. If you're only going to print 5 copies of something, Risograph may not be the best value for money. The more copies you print from one stencil, the more cost efficient it is. It is designed to print 50-2000+ copies at a time. Great for posters, zines and booklets. You can print on different colours and textures of paper, too! Because it uses uncoated paper, this opens up a whole world of options. This book was printed on a coloured paper stock, which can change the perceived colour of the ink quite a lot.

Esther McManus

Esther McManus

Tali Bayer

Tali Bayer

Overall, as with all printmaking processes, it has its own quirks and benefits. I personally love making riso prints! I've been working with lots of local artists recently on a Dundee Print Collective project called Riso Soup, and it's been a rewarding challenge to really experiment and play with Risograph Printing. I'll make a separate post about that, as this post is getting pretty long. But it's been fun blogging more regularly! I'll be back soon.

Like the idea? Do you want to make something with this process? I am a trained riso tech, so I can try to answer any questions you might want to ask. :)

Geli Monoprinting and Paper Drypoint prints

I have been making quick geli monoprints and paper drypoint intaglio prints. Both really quick, messy and fun ways to approach printmaking.

Geli Printing is a cool new way to monoprint, using a wobbly gelatin plate and either water or oil based inks. You can build up the surface using rollers, textured stamps, brushes, or if you're like me probably just your fingers. What's really cool about it is it keeps a ghost image on the surface that you can play with, gradually building up layers before printing a final image. For my ones, I kept it simple. I used a brush, cloth and fingers to get the soft, almost lithography-like marks, and paper stencils to block out the white shapes. The final two images show what can be achieved with the ghosting.

portal (Small)
portal (Small)
fireball (Small)
fireball (Small)
moon (Small)
moon (Small)
moon refelection (Small)
moon refelection (Small)

The other day I made some quick new paper drypoints, too. Quick and easy. Might print some nicer ones from the plates at some point...

wing (Small)
wing (Small)
sun 2 (Small)
sun 2 (Small)
orb 2 (Small)
orb 2 (Small)

3D Printed Things at DCA

At the beginning of the year, the DCA Print Studio got a little 3D printer, and I have been experimenting with my own print plates and experiments. At first, we all learned how to print our own 3D selfies! Here I am:

Haha. The 3D scanner really picks up a lot of detail in the short amount of time it takes to compile the image. It then took just under 2 hours to print.  Shortly after that, I had a go making and 3D printing little intaglio/relief printmaking plates. It went pretty well, but I haven't fully explored the technique yet. Here are a few pictures! They are all small test plates printed through an etching press on somerset satin paper.

Still want to develop that further when I have the time! While I was playing with 3D possibilities, I really liked the mesh that made up one of the failed 3D scans of my own self. I got to making a screen and digital print from it. I don't have a great picture of the final thing yet, but here's the mock up. It's actually the back of my head looking inside, with various holes and deformations that the scanner made on its own. I flipped it so it almost resembles a mountainscape.

I also started to think about ways in which I could use this technology in my own practice. I have been looking at the huge amount of open source 3D models available for free online. I downloaded several and sliced their arms/hands off in 3dsMax, then printed them at this miniature scale, suspending them from silk thread.

You can download and print just about any object you desire. What future world could we create with this over-abundance of information? How many hands are 'connected' to the internet right now, typing and swiping away? Could I be printing a 3D scan of your hand as you read this blog post?

Happy February! Updates and 2015

Apologies for the absence - Christmas and new year was hectic. My Etsy store really took off around November. That, alongside lots of overtime at my day jobs, meant less time for blogging. I have been working on many new things, however!

Quick updates:

I got a new computer! It is so lovely and glossy and blue. It also runs Photoshop, Illustrator and even 3D Design Programmes with ease, and I am very happy with it. This will go a long way to help me design, research and experiment for new work.

At work, we got a 3D Printer, so I have been researching printmaking with 3D Printed plates, and also with simply working in 3DSMax to create some weird stuff. Dedicated blog post to follow!

I learned, with Paul, how to make a silver ring! We went along to the last Vanilla Ink class and made each other some really lovely rings with the help of the lovely Kate. Sad to see them go, as their studio at WASPS closed last week.

I learned Taku-hon (Japanese Stone Rubbing), perhaps the first printmaking technique to be invented in the world. The pieces created can be beautifully textured, tactile, and either dark and bold or feathery light and subtle. Will also follow up with a blog post.

I am learning bookbinding. I have fallen in love with the look and feel of coptic bound books, and plan to create a range for my online store once I can do them well.

Another Zine to come soon! Everything I Know About Dreams... Goal is to finish it for the next ZineSwap later this month.

My 2015 vague goals? I have lots of ideas for new pieces, including collage, geo prints, and sculptural work, as well as some nice etching and screen prints. I want to make scale a consideration this year: tiny little plates as well as bigger, one off pieces. I'd like to, mid year, have a portfolio to include my own examples all the techniques that I know and use at work. I also want to experiment and work with GOLD!

Large Scale lino cuts for The Big Print, at Print Festival Scotland

At the same time as IMPACT 8, The very first Print Festival Scotland took off, with loads of events including studio open days, print and education exhibitions, and special film screenings at DCA. The Big Print has been in the works for the last 6 months, led by the Creative Learning Team at The McManus. The artworks are collages of many pieces by children, young people and adult learners inspired by the McManus collections and Dundee history, architecture, science, and culture.

There were then many sessions of lino cutting to transfer the initial drawings into the giant lino blocks. This was done by many artists, students and volunteers, and I managed to help a little. Here is a cutting process picture I took on an extremely rainy day in the creative learning centre at The McManus...

So when the day of printing rolled by, the momentum was really something- a great atmosphere of excitement and fun. The 'giant printmaking' was achieved using a road roller! Here are some photographs of last Saturday...

Well done to everyone involved, there was a lot of hard work involved but it turned out fantastic in the end!

Impact 8 Printmaking Conference in Dundee

So Impact 8 happened last week, and it just flew by. The conference has previously been held in Australia, South Africa, and many cities within Europe, so it is very exciting that Dundee was chosen to host this year. Dundee does have a rich, relevant print history though - with DC Thompson, the invention of the postage stamp, academia, the art school, and digital and computer games industries.

I was a volunteer, and we were all very busy assisting with various tasks and taking in the awesome printmaking/academic vibes/knowledge. Dundee University and DCA print studio had been preparing for last week for a long time, and that enthusiastic energy really showed with all of the Impact events and the first ever Print Festival Scotland, too. I mainly acted as a technical hand should anything go awry in the presentations. I helped look after 2 talks (each with 3 speakers) and a panel discussion. The talks were both on the subject of 'Art and Science', which was really interesting and included a lot of great work. I met a lot of really talented folks with inspiring ideas. The speakers were  Barbara ZeiglerTim O’Riley, Monika Auch,  Sean Caulfield, Kathryn Smith, and Beatrice Haines. Everyone had such interesting things to say, and managed to elevate my understanding of how art and science can be brought together in a variety of ways, not just your usual 'visualisation/anatomy' uses. To name a few - ethics, highlighting scientific detachment, drawing attention to people, process and materials, and solving intrigue.

The panel discussion was so interesting too, and much more involved in the kind of subject my own art is involved in: 'Printopias' - creating whole worlds within print. My 4th year studio buddy Raluca Iancu was speaking at the panel discussion (about the Three Bridges Project), and it was fantastic to catch up after 2 YEARS! I can't believe it's been so long since graduating.  The other speakers were John Philips (he spoke about the worlds and utopias within postage stamps) and Curtis Bartone (he spoke about fictional dystopia/utopias) , and the panel was chaired by Beauvais Lyons.

I plan to make a post on The Big Print soon. :)

Working on Editions for Thomson and Craighead

One of the new pieces of equipment the DCA print studio acquired recently is the CNC router. I would absolutely love to create a woodcut piece with it... going to have to think about that one a bit, though. You can cut some really precise, large scale stuff with it, and it has interchangeable cutting tools for both fine and rougher work. Artist duo Thomson and Craighead are getting their work for Never Odd or Even, their first survey exhibition in the UK at the Carroll/Fletcher Gallery in London. The woodblock pieces I have printed are part of the London Wall project, where local tweets are chosen and made into artwork. They have already been selling very well, I hear, which is fantastic news. Here are some pictures on the process...

cnc router for Thompson and Craighead

 

I alsolutely love to use that style of press- it's so old and still works perfectly. Here is the only 'finished' shot I could find:

The other one that I printed was black and said 'Don't blow my high'. You can see the block being prepared in one of the previous pictures. This project was really fun and rewarding to complete, and I really enjoyed it. More on relief printing soon! :)

 

Edit: I just realized that the pieces I printed are available to buy at the Carroll/Fletcher online shop, too.