i recently attended a riso zine workshop at the splendid rope press in birmingham. i’d been wanting to attend one of their workshops to learn a bit more about and have a go at the risograph printing process for a while, and so my partner julie bought me access to their zine workshop as a birthday present and to make sure that i actually got round to going. if you’re not familiar; risograph printing is a bit like a cross between screen printing and photocopying . it’s a spot colour process which means the colours are printed on separate layers like in screen printing, but at higher speed and volume. by printing on separate layers you can get miss-registration and other effects that add to the unique aesthetic of the process.
we were ably guided through the workshop by reece who taught us about the process and was knowledgeable, helpful and patient – especially when i couldn’t decide which colours i wanted to work with. they had a whole stack of magazines and ephemera we could use for collage; so i took the leftovers from some pages that other people didn’t want, some carefully selected portions from a book on plastics and a guide to medicines, and added drawings from my sketchbooks. the booklet was 16 pages, but because you have to produce 2 layers for each page we had to produce 32 pages which was a tall order in a relatively short space of time. you then have to arrange the pages so that they will print in the right place when the A3 sheets are guillotined and folded. the printer is such that two colours can be printed at a time, but the first lot of prints have to sit and dry for 15-20 mins before the reverse side can be added. once the second side is printed and dried, they’re guillotined, folded and stapled. i printed onto three types of paper: white, newsprint and canary, and it was interesting to see how the work looks so different on the different papers – i thought i’d prefer the pristine white, but much preferred the the other two once the run was printed. I really enjoyed my afternoon at rope press and would happily recommend one of their workshops if you’re interested in different ways of printing. i was also really pleased with how the prints came out and am now planning more work to have the riso treatment – can’t wait.
rope press are a non for profit organisation based in birmingham, uk, that offer printing and book binding services as well as workshops.
also, rope press are now called playtime press.