The underlying technology is very similar to a mimeograph: the original is scanned through the machine and a master stencil is created. This stencil is then wrapped around a drum and vegetable-based ink is forced through the voids in the master. The paper runs flat through the machine while the drum rotates to create an impression on the paper. This entire process is automated, which gives it a magical feeling! The results look and feel like a silkscreened print.
Queer.Archive.Work’s risograph printer is a single drum SF9450, purchased new in 2018. It takes almost any uncoated paper up to 11 x 17 in., from light newsprint to about 120lb. QAW has five riso inks: Black, Burundy,Purple,Teal, and Fluorescent Pink (see this handy chart for reference). More colors coming soon!
Note that if you plan to do more than one pass through the machine, and/or print on both sides of a sheet, you need to wait 24 hours or more for your prints to dry before the second printing (depending on the humidity). Also: this machine jams easily on large areas of ink. If your art has a lot of ink coverage, plan for a much slower process.
Printing from original art on the flatbed is simple and requires no set-up, but if you want to print directly from your Mac (from a PDF, InDesign, Illustrator file, etc.), you’ll need to install a special print driver, available here in the studio.
Examples of ink colors printed on the QAW riso:
Black on newsprint
Teal on grey
Fluorescent Pink on kraft