Friday, May 13, 2011

Gocco & Me Makes Three

Someday you might be thinking to yourself, “Self, I’d like to invite some people to my wedding, and I’d like to make the invitations really special.” And then you might consider instead just using Vistaprint. I had this conversation with myself some months back, and the conclusion I came to was that Vistaprint is for suckers who hate beautiful handmade things, and I would be damned if I would send out invitations that weren’t personally and painstakingly handcrafted by me.

Here’s what I learned: Vistaprint is not for suckers. It is actually for people who want nice-looking wedding invitations and also enjoy having lives. But if you’re willing to sacrifice your social life... if you love spending time and money... if you don’t care if you ever see your friends again and you don’t mind having five nervous breakdowns... then complex, personally painstakingly handcrafted wedding invitations might just be for you.

My process evolved from MLB’s idea that since we’re getting married at a theater, we should have an invitation that looks like a ticket.

Oo, look, pretty:

Don’t be fooled. THEY ARE PRINTED IN BLOOD. Well, not literally. But figurative blood for sure.

A while back I showed you the cutting process (thank you, trusty Cricut, and thank you, Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts, for that Black Friday deal). Each invitation was composed of two covers (which also had to have their scalloped edges trimmed off so they would fit inside #10 policy envelopes and also not look super lame) and three to four pages, including a pre-stamped, pre-addressed response card to be cut out and sent back. As I mentioned before, that’s a lot of cutting. But we’re so past cutting now; today we’re talking about

How to Gocco Your Wedding Invitations
Without Losing Your Mind

Step 1 (not pictured): Buy a Japanese tabletop screen printer on eBay and learn how to use it. This process involves a not-in-English instruction manual, several YouTube videos, and much reading of other people’s Gocco mishap recaps on the Internet, as well as several personal Gocco disasters and questioning of plan and purpose, and is not worth recounting in detail.

Step 2: Insert flash bulbs in Gocco flash unit.

It almost looks friendly, doesn’t it?

“Bleep blorp. I am a robot.”

DO NOT BE FOOLED. The Gocco is a temperamental beast. Sometimes it creates beautiful, crisp, pristine prints, and sometimes it catches on fire. YOU CAN’T TELL WHAT IT WILL DO. Be prepared for anything. Speak in calm, even tones.

Step 3: Create your original. If you are lazy, you can do this on a computer and then print it out on a laser printer (or print on an inkjet printer and then make a photocopy). If you love your friends, though, you’ll hand letter it using your special Gocco carbon marker.

You can use more than one piece of paper if when you screw up. Just don’t let any of the paper overlap with any other pieces of paper because then your screen will burn unevenly and you will likely end up in tears of frustration, unless you have cried out all your tears, in which case you will just stare numbly at the wall for a while, wasting precious seconds you could be using to frantically order more supplies from Etsy sellers.

Step 4: Place your original on the pad and close the lid. Look through the window to make sure your design is where you want it to be.

Of course, where you really want it to be is ON THE PAPER AND IN THE EFFING MAIL ALREADY, but the center of the window will do.

Step 5: Insert the flash unit and press down.

If you did it right, you’ll see a flash of white light. So you probably shouldn’t look directly at the Gocco while you press down. Maybe I should have mentioned that before I told you to press down. Oh well. Your eyesight will come back eventually.

Step 6: Remove the flash unit (Don’t touch the bulbs! Hot! Hot!)...

...and open the lid. Your original should be stuck to the screen. (Oh, I skipped the step in which you insert a screen to be burned. Um... OK, go back up and pretend I wrote “Step 4B: Insert a blank master screen and a blue filter.” There. All good.) If your original is not stuck to your screen, YOU ARE EFFED.

Good news: Stuck! Success.

Step um... 7? Peel back the clear plastic on the master screen and squirt ink over all the places where your original is stuck to the master.

Now peel back the original...

...and you’re ready to print!

Oh, wait. That should have been Step 8. Eh. Whatevs.

Step 9 (depending on your math): Insert a piece of test paper.

And push down.


Open it up...

...peel it back...

...say a prayer to St. Jude...

Et voila!

You have successfully printed legible text. Now it’s time to do it for real.

Step 10 or so: Take one of your thousands upon thousands of Cricuted ticket pages and center it on the printing pad. Press down firmly and cross your fingers.

Peel it off and:

There you have it. One perfect print!

Step 12ish: Repeat many times.

Many, many more times.

So many times.

OH THE AGONY so many times. You didn’t want any of those horizontal surfaces anyway, did you?

Oh P.S., they should probably dry overnight. So I hope you didn’t need to use that room. For like a week.

Once all your one million pages are cut, printed and dried, the fun is just beginning! Now it’s assembly time.

That’s a front cover, a ceremony invitation, a reception card, an RSVP card and a back cover. And then there are some with a rehearsal dinner invitation as well. Yeah, I like my wedding way more than I like trees. Don’t hate.

All those pages have to be stacked up in order, and each stack has to be anchored with a little bit of double-sided scrapbooking tape.

And then lined up perfectly.

That is, until you run out of scrapbooking tape, and then you use the rest of the regular double-stick tape you usually use for gift wrapping, and once you’ve gone through that you just sort of stack them together and hope for the best.

Step 437 (roughly): Take all the invitations upstairs to MLB (or whoever your fiancĂ© happens to be; mine will never agree to do this again, actually, so he’s probably out), teach him how to set eyelets, and have him bind all the booklets while you go down to the craft room to cry.

Oh, but by the way, the finished product is awesome.

People are just starting to get them (and confession, there are just a couple more that have to go out tomorrow because for whatever reason we didn’t have those addresses and didn’t think to get them before we sent out all the rest. Sorry, five or six people).

I got a call from MOH Alicia tonight. She started off by telling me she had gotten the cutest wedding invitation in the mail. Then she said, “I honestly think you’re insane. What were you smoking that you thought that would be a good idea?”

Truthfully? I don’t know. I have no idea. BUT I EFFING DID IT. I’m only planning on having one wedding, so I wanted the invitations to be epic. Sure, I cried a lot. Sure, I had no life for weeks. Sure, MLB thought I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. And sure, we could have just gone to Vistaprint. And then a movie or dinner or effing CHINA ON FOOT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD with all the time we had left over. But I didn’t just want these invitations to say “Come to our wedding.” I wanted them to say “I used to be Google’s top result for ‘dating woes’ and now I’ve found a man who cooks me lamb chops and gets excited about deals on Le Creuset and lets my dog sleep on his pillow and thinks I’m equal parts hysterical and adorable and we are getting MARRIED, dammit, and you should effing COME TO OUR WEDDING because it is going to be AWESOME and here is some Stardream cardstock cut out on my fancy scrapbooking machine and screen printed with my OWN HANDWRITING on a thing I had to ORDER FROM JAPAN because that is the only way to adequately express how EFFING UNBELIEVABLE it is that we have gotten to the point at which we want to publicly declare our desire to spend the REST OF OUR LIVES together. Also, ALL CAPS.”

Which I think these accomplish.

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