Thermofax envy

OK, I’ll admit it: I have Thermofax envy. I keep seeing all these wonderful results of using images produced on a thermofax: Sonja has one, or at least has access to one. So do Liz, Denise, Lynda, Rayna (TWO!), Maggie, Cathy, Casey, Cynthia, Linda, Susie, Amy, and Patricia Bolton (she has another great link on her blog). Claire has actually made a business out of selling the many wonderful screens she makes. Jane Dunnewold has a thermofax service, as does Marcy Tilton. I’m sure I have only scratched the surface of the number of these once defunct, now gloriously resuscitated machines. Apparently Welsh Products is the place to purchase all things thermal in North America. They include instructions as well.

As an avid doodler, sketcher, and photographer, I, too, would like to translate my images into screens in such an elegant and easy manner. So . . . I am giving notice to the universe that I want, need, and would use & cherish such a machine. Perhaps I should also start saving my loonies (I’m Canadian), which will mean fewer chai lattes. Sometimes an artist has to make sacrifices.

In the meantime, perhaps I’ll try PhotoEZ. Gwen Gibson has used it, and sells her screens (she also does intriguing things with PhotoEZ and shaving cream); Ginny Eckley sells it in the US. Desiree has some very helpful info about it, and 3 YOUTube presentations (1, 2, 3) show how slick and effective this stuff actually is. You can buy it direct from the manufacturer, Circuit Bridge.

Right now, I simply use stamps and stencils, or attach a printed, tissue paper image to my quilt or collage painting with liquid medium.

And I’ve made this page so I can access all these lucky people with a click, and dream about my future acquisition.

About CarolWiebe

Art entices, inspires, and delights me. Art is a vehicle for laughter, tears, wonder, enlightenment--taking me on a constant path of discovery. You can't say that about housework (except, perhaps, for the crying part).
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23 Responses to Thermofax envy

  1. Liz Plummer says:

    Hi Carol

    I don’t have one, I have a Print Gocco machine which makes images on thermofax film. That is more affordable! (And possible to find, in the UK…) When I posted about thermofax images, I was intending to send them away to someone who makes them, and one of the people who commented told me about the Print Gocco machine. You can use unframed thermofax film and flash it as many times as it needs to make the image, although it uses 2 bulbs for each flash.


  2. carolwiebe says:

    Thanks so much for that clarification, Liz. I’ve visited your site quite a number of times and find your work very intriguing! This may be a moot point, because you’ve already invested in a Gocco, but have you considered the PhotoEZ? Apparently it works in a Gocco, and in sunlight as well (no bulbs!).

  3. Carol,
    I’ll tell you a secret…I don’t have a thermofax. I send images to someone who does them for me on their machine. It’s a heck of lot cheaper than plunking down the money for one of my own.

  4. Susie Monday says:

    Hi Carol — If there is a large volume tattoo artist anywhere within close reach you might check with that shop and see if they have one and if you can pay them to run your images through — you might need to provide your own frames and film, but you can get those in small quantity from Welch products. Also keep your eyes out for school auctions. Sometimes they have them very cheap. Thanks for the mention and the link to my site. I do love having the thermofax and bought mine on ebay for about $300 about 5 years ago. It does generally need servicing and parts to the tune of $100 or so every other year, but compared to the time and effort to make photo silkscreens, I have found it to be a very practical investment, especially since I use it in the classes and workshops I teach. S

  5. carolwiebe says:

    Thanks, Susie, for the great tips.
    I have taken regular silk screening classes (from simple paper stencil to photo emulsion) but it is quite involved, even with simple methods, to keep the big screens clean, not let them dry, etc. and even the smaller screens are rather big and clunky for the scale of work I do. The Thermofax screens look pretty perfect for my purposes.

  6. Jim says:

    I sell thermofax machines, also belts and lamps for them as well. I did my first screen printing today. It was fun!
    I have been repairing and reselling these machines for about 10 years.

  7. Lori says:

    I wanted a thermofax too but just today found out there has been a revival and a new more affordable alternative….Yudu. I bought mine locally at AC Moore but you can get them online at
    I can’t wait to try mine.!

  8. carolwiebe says:

    Lori, the screens for this product cost, online, about $30 in US funds per screen (Feb 09). That doesn’t include any S&H. Emulsion sheets are about $10 each. Also, the manufacturers recommend only using their inks. I will have to do the math to see the cost per screen, but it looks a little high to me. Does anyone else have a breakdown of what the thermofax screens cost per screen?

  9. Lori says:

    The screens are $24 here:
    and I think unless you intend to make the same screen over and over then you would need seperate screens. I think the plan at Yudu was to remove the emumlsion and reuse the old screen again. But I see that if you want to keep certain screens to use again in the furutre this can be expensive. But Thermofax is expensive too but they use more temporary screens made of cardboard. The emulsions price is the same as Yudu but the paper screen frams are cheaper. But the price of the machine is WAY different. I paid $199 for my Yudu compared to $1000 plus for thermofax. You do the math there too!

  10. carolwiebe says:

    Good points, Lori. Either you work for YUDU or you REALLY like this product! I’d love it if you sent me an example you have made (preferably your own design) to do a blog post about!

  11. Lori says:

    I haven’t even opened the box yet! It’s too heavy to lift from my trunk ( I’m 60) so I’m waiting for my son to come and bring it in for me today. I have been watching videos and going through all the possibilities in my mind first.
    Here’s the best video:

    long but very inclusive.

  12. Pingback: What will YUDU? « Silverspring Studio

  13. Heather says:

    Just reading through these comments, and wanted to point out that even if I hadn’t found my Thermofax for free (thank you government surplus…) and even if the Yudu screens were as inexpensive as Thermofax… The savings would be in TIME.

    I can draw a design with one of many black pens or pencils and run it through my Thermofax machine in about 10 seconds. The screen material costs at most a couple of dollars per sheet, and frames etc. are optional. Putting the screen on a frame takes a couple of minutes, and Jean Ray Laury says you can use them without frames “if you’re careful”.

    I’m now making a collection of small screens bordered with duct tape. If the tape is allowed to “season” for 24 hours or more before use its waterproof, but even that’s optional.

    It is still possible to find a school or business with a Thermofax machine in the basement or in storage and they are wonderful!

  14. carolwiebe says:

    Thanks for all these excellent points, Heather. I have not acquired a Thermofax machine yet, but I live in hope!

  15. Jim says:

    Visit my website above, I stock bulbs, belts and sometimes a transparency maker or two!

  16. In addition to thermal screen printing products, we also sell Print Gocco and Yudu products. We will soon be adding additional related items to our webstore. Check us out at

  17. chris says:

    I have had some success feeding risograph tissue(digital duplicator) through it, it has a tissue that holds the ink. I had better results when used with injet masters, lexmark, and epson, both must have a carbon pigment. My laser printer would not work, they have modified the fuser toner with the newest models. I then use this on a vintage gestetner, with textile ink.

    • George says:

      When you say you have had some success with a risograph – what were the results? I have always had problems with splotchiness with a newish laser printer so I thought maybe a riso-made copier would be the ticket. I am worried the soya-ink doesn’t have enough carbon content in it though. I would love to know more about your experiments.

  18. tom says:

    we have new guine thermofax machine parts, if you need parts we need model & serial number also genuine thermofax sales service supplies

    • Joanna says:

      REPLY TO “TOM”: A few years ago, I bought a Thermofax, model “The Secretary,” thinking all it needed was a new bulb. I talked with someone online and learned that this was a really old model and would have to be retrofitted before the standard “Thermofax light bulb” would work in it. I’ve since lost that person’s email and contact info. Do you work on this type model and if so, what would you estimate the cost would be to get it up and running?


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