Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Gift by Gocco

Matt and I got married last fall and my friend Marianne popped over recently to deliver a wedding gift. It's a screen print that she made with the help of a friend/graphic designer. They used a Japanese device called a Gocco, which can create small prints through its clever self-contained color system. It was invented in 1977 by Noboru Hayama and according to Wikipedia, one-third of Japanese households own a Print Gocco system.

Gocco has over 30 kinds of ink, and allows you to create marbling, pointillism, rainbow patterns, and gradation. You can see some of that detail in the close-ups below:

The company Web site markets it as a user-friendly, DIY product. "Personalization couldn't be easier!" and "Fits right on a kitchen table!" That's evidenced by the number of crafters who use it: Etsy has a ton of designs created with Print Gocco. 170 plus pages in fact. Here are a few samples:

It's interesting to contrast the Japanese designs below, which are showcased on the Gocco Web site, against their American counterparts:

The company that owns Print Gocco stopped importing the product to the U.S. last month. They site lack of demand and blame the personal computer. I spoke with an art shop in Rockville, Maryland that once carried the printers. They still sell supplies for the system, but confirm that they can no longer get the actual printers. The sales clerk noted, though, that there is a large contingent of Gocco enthusiasts who "seem to figure out how to get one" anyway. The New York Times chronicled that cult following last year. There's even a Save Gocco Web site. The enthusiasm for the product reminds me of the history of the Lomo camera. I wonder if the enthusiasts can succeed in bringing the Gocco back to the U.S.?