New Modern Patchwork zine, new Spectrolite

I’ve been learning how to use a paper folder (a Martin Yale off of eBay) and a Rapid 106 electric stapler (on loan from Robert Baxter). Because it’s about time to start production for Modern Patchwork, a new “how to sew a quilt” zine from me and Amy for All Well!

You can preorder the zine on Etsy, if you’re wanting a Risograph printed copy, and they ship December 11th. (There’s also a riso two-pack, or a print-your-own-PDF version.)

Faster Spectrolite

In Spectrolite news, we have a big new version to share today.

It got a LOT faster, mainly. You can download it for Mac here:

Since we released Spectrolite on Oct 30th (which is somehow less than a month ago?) so many people have been playing with it and making cool prints. Adam and I were impressed by how many people had the patience to use it: each image to RISO-ify into a color palette took a while, often several minutes for big images! Now it’s quite a bit faster — seconds, not minutes!

When you initially create a palette, there’s still a time to wait, as Spectrolite calculates all the colors (about 30 seconds to 3-4 min, depending on the number of colors in the palette). Like this:

But after that, whenever you use the palette to RISO-ify your images, it’s much faster! A handful of seconds (instead of minutes!) for most images/computers!

Nerdy details: Adam initially wrote all the image processing in Python, which is suitable for research science (his background) but not so great for production code. Now everything is in Go language, which is a lot faster. As a side benefit, removing Python should hopefully fix the problems that some people had on older Mac OS versions (like High Sierra) and software developers who had multiple versions of Python already on their computer.

If you downloaded Spectrolite before, and it gave you an error when you tried to RISO-ify the images, please try again! (And let us know how it goes, if you’d like — there’s a feedback form under the Help menu.)

Some other new things in this version:

  • Apple Developer certificate signing: This lets Apple check the app to make sure it’s not malware, and they also “notarize” it so they can track the app back to us. (I had to give them a photo of my driver’s license! So legit.)

  • Auto updates: When there’s an improvement in Spectrolite, the new version will download in the background, and then a message will tell you you can restart to start using the new version.

  • Better color gradients. Before you might have seen some posterization in the RISO-ified images — like banding in a gradient. We changed the way the image processing is done and things should be a lot smoother now. Better sunset pictures for everyone!

  • FASTER. Did we say faster? It’s like ten times faster. I mean, it was pretty slow to start, so the bar’s not too high, but still: EXCITING.

Go Download Spectrolite

Zine making?

Spectrolite is a fun project for us, and we’re mostly building what we want to use ourselves. So up next, we’re moving off of image-related stuff for a bit, and into: making ZINES!

I’d like to be able to upload a PDF of statement size (5.5 x 8.5 inch) or A5 pages, and have it arrange everything onto riso sized paper. Like this, to make a booklet:

So a 64-page zine (like Modern Patchwork) prints on 8 sheets of ledger/A4 paper, printed front and back. Or a 24 page zine onto three sheets. (Here’s the code I used to create the image above.) It’s all stuff you can do in InDesign or other more expensive Imposition software — but we just want something simple for making riso zines!

That’s it for now. Hope you all are muddling through too. If you have any comments or feedback, you can reply to this email or message us on Instagram

— Amelia & Adam

PS - We did postcards and letters for the general election, and we’re doing it again in December for Georgia! We just got an order of 500 Postcards to Swing States in the mail, and sorted them into batches to distribute to people around town. Vote Forward is also one we recommend, for Americans who want to help get Democrats elected in the Senate special election in January.