Down a pot plant-lined laneway in Marrickville lies the warehouse space, Join The Dots, an artist-run creative community. Consisting of open-plan artist studios, a communal wood workshop, performance space and recording studio, it’s a place for experimentation and collaboration. A section of JTD is home to one of Sydney’s few risograph machines, affectionately named The Rizzeria.
The RP3700 machine was bought by a group of Sydney-based zine makers and artists who chipped in and own it together. It has moved a lot in its lifetime, touring Australia for zine fairs. Now it has found its new home in Marrickville.
The machine works like a digital screen printer. You send a file to it via a computer or copy something off the glass like a photocopier. It then burns a stencil onto banana paper and prints from that. Popular in the past for making primary-school bulletins, the risograph prints one colour at a time, quickly and cheaply. It’s a very hands-on process, requiring you to manually change the ink drum when you want to change colours. The process is chemical free and more cost effective than using a screen-printing machine, but it still achieves a hand-made aesthetic.
The machine is available for public use, run with the help of volunteers who are there to guide newcomers through the process. Jasha Aitchison is a Sydney-based graphic designer who volunteers with The Rizzeria. “A lot of people haven’t used the risograph machine before, and then they are always happily surprised,” she says. “Because they haven’t seen their work printed in this way before. Or, for example, if they haven’t seen a line drawing they’ve done in red ink on pink paper before.”
Sometimes the layers will miss-match slightly as the colours are printed, making each copy different. These slight inaccuracies are one of the reasons creative folk are seeking out the machine as opposed to traditional digital printing. “A few errors here and there adds character,” says Aitchison. “You can also purposely fade the colours, by manually switching out the inks as it is printing.”
You can print photos, cards, stickers, invitations, posters, zines, or anything you want on a range of different papers on hand. Or you can bring your own in. The size goes up to slightly bigger than A3, so you can bleed the ink right to the edge, and then you can trim the paper off with The Rizzeria’s friend next door, the Guillotina. There are 12 colours available to print including the new additions of teal, silver and gold.
Head over to the website to book a session with the Rizzeria, where you’ll also find instructions on how to set up your files on the website.
If you’re keen to give it a whirl there is also a custom printing workshop happening on Sunday August 24.
The Rizzeria at Join The Dots studio
102 Victoria Road (side entrance), Marrickville