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March 29, 2007

eating poetry: gocco printing with chocolate

by gl. at 11:40 pm

for the edible book tea, i had a lot of different ideas, but the one that gave me the most pleasure was doing some sort of interactive edible printing project. i wanted everyone to print their own or mark their own edible item. i was thinking of doing a "jello journalism" setup, like a hectograph. while researching that possibility, it suddenly occured to me that a gocco would be even better! and boy have i been looking for a good gocco project!

for those who can't wait for the punchline, the basic recipe for the chocolate gocco ink i used is hershey's syrup mixed with powdered sugar until it reaches a consistency similar to that of riso ink. it was perhaps a 1/4 cup of syrup to 5 or 6 heaping tablespoons of powdered sugar. i tried several different formulations & chocolates and that was the best one (and the most reproducible). the "ink" will thicken in the refrigerator; it's better fresh and at room temperature. but the other secret was crepes. wonton wrappers didn't work nearly as well for a good impression. i didn't try other mediums once i found crepes, so there may be other surfaces that work well. the sweet crepe recipe seems to have worked slightly better than the savoury crepe recipe.

the whole process took me about a week to nail down (roughly 15 hours). i could only work on it "after hours," when all my other work was done, which often meant i was testing after midnight. here's how it all went down:

day1: buy egg roll & spring roll wrappers at uwajimaya. pick poem, create poem layout in illustrator, photocopy poem, set up gocco, burn screen. make chocolate sauce from melted chocolate chips, test print on egg roll wrapper. the chocolate is much too thick, wash screen. test prints w/ hershey's chocolate syrup (3 different kinds!), but the syrup is too thin. the screen breaks apart under all that washing, so i burn a new screen. begin to wash screens much more carefully. test print w/ hershey's syrups most promising, but i think the type is too small. reset & adapt poem to configure for larger type, photocopy, burn new gocco screen. test print w/ hershey's syrup: words are forming, but i'm not thrilled. attempt to toast egg roll wrapper prior to printing & burn it. toast another egg roll wrapper. test print w/ a mix of chocolate syrup, cocoa powder & powered sugar. better print, but the toasted egg roll wrapper crumbles and gets all over the place. test another print on plain & toasted egg roll wrappers. test print on spring roll wrapper (blech!!). i care a lot that this is actually an edible book. take a short nap, clean up kitchen, fret. (end at 5 a.m.)

day2: think of using crepes! thanks, sven!

day3: make 2 savory crepes to test, realize i don't have enough syrups to do much more. when i try to mix the syrups with cocoa and thin with water, it squishes out the edges of the screen -- but it prints one good print on the darker side of the crepe! a true success! make 10 more crepes. make another batch of ink with the rest of the syrups & powdered sugar. 5 successful prints in a row! leave the rest for tomorrow's tests, clean up kitchen. feeling cheerful. (end at 3 a.m.)

day4: pick up an extra bottle of hershey's syrup & a jar of papa haydn's chocolate sauce after visiting michaelmas. i didn't even know papa haydn's sold its chocolate sauce in jars. while smooth and decadently delicious, the sauce doesn't print at all, even if thinned w/ milk. it did have the highest proportion of actual chocolate of all the sauces available on the shelf at zupan's: is particle size an issue? it also squishes and gets all over gocco press (though the syrup also gave me that problem). feeling frustrated. wondering what my plan b is. clean up kitchen. amazed the screen seems to still be holding. (end at 3:30 a.m.)

day5: make cherry pi for 3/14! (related only in that i had to wait till that was done to work on the "eating poetry" project.) after the total non-success of the premium chocolate sauce, am glad i bought the extra hershey's syrup. this was, happily, the easiest day yet: i created more ink from about a 1/4 cup of hershey's syrup and 5 or 6 heaping tablespoons of powdered sugar. i finally think to apply a very thin layer of sauce, which works like a dream! no squishing out the sides, but continues to have even coverage and am able to pull multiple prints. the crepe sticks to the screen and must be peeled off, pulling very thin strings of syrup from the letters. neat! use up rest of crepes: i now have enough pre-printed crepes for plan b, which simply involves picking a crepe & eating it rather than everyone printing their own -- but at least there's still poetry involved! write some of the process down. clean up kitchen & gocco. (end at 2:30 a.m.)

day6: cut waxed paper to cover print bed. set up studio for edible book tea. print poem & art onto paper so people can see the source (but then i leave them on the printer!). make blank crepes w/ the sweet crepe recipe instead of the savory crepe recipe. these turn out lighter in texture and may even make better surfaces (carmelization?). to make the printing side dark enough, i leave it in the pan for 1.5 minutes. am finishing the crepes minutes before the event is set to begin. at the event, i describe the project, pray, print... hooray! a beautiful print! when i let others print, the results aren't as good, but i can't tell what they're doing differently. they fill the printed crepes w/ strawberries & whipped cream, though, and it's so delicious it hardly matters. (end at 3 a.m.)

wrap up: i am pretty pleased with the way these turned out, though of course i'd like even better, more consistent coverage. maybe what i'm really looking for is a chocolate embossing technique. :) i printed about 25 of these crepes for the event without evidence of clogging, though i have no idea how many more i could have gotten out of it. as far as i can tell, the screen is still usable. thank you, gocco!

posted by gl. | March 29, 2007 11:40 PM | categories: printing