Gelli Arts - Gel Printing Plate Review
Monoprinting is an art form that creates a one-off piece. Once the print has been made, you won't be able to make another identical one. A monoprint can be a stand-alone piece of art, a background for mixed media or an art journal. It can be used on paper or fabric. Monoprints can be combined with paint, pens, collage and any other mark-making media. Techniques to create monoprints vary from metal plates, presses, wood blocks and litho stones. Another method is to create a printing plate with gelatin.
Liquid gelatin is poured into a mold and allowed to set. It is then carefully removed as it is quite fragile and placed on a surface. It is then covered with paint and a print taken off it by placing a sheet on top. The drawbacks of using gelatin is that it takes around 12 hours to set in a refrigerator and doesn't last very long - if you are able to keep it intact, you need to refrigerate it after a couple of hours in order to be able to use it again. The actual process of gelatin plate printing is really good fun, it's just a shame that the plate is not very robust.
Gelli Arts to the rescue! They have taken the gelatin plate and transformed it. They took all the fun of gelatin printing and jettisoned the annoying, irritating stuff. Meet the Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate.
My Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate Arrives
I was so excited to get my 8" x 10" gel printing plate a few days ago. Unfortunately, due to family commitments I haven't had the time to use it yet. Today I have some free time so I thought I would review the gel printing plate and share the whole process with you.
The plate comes in a sturdy clamshell package with a colorful information insert. I was surprised that there were very few techniques included in the insert. It does cover 'Basics', 'Easy clean up', 'Making your mark' and 'Essential to know'. I'll go over some of these things as we go along.
The plate is a little weird, I have to say. When you open the clamshell, it's as though there's nothing in it. Only the weight lets you know that you are holding something fairly substantial. The plate is completely transparent and feels like... well, wibbly-wobbly jello!
My kids ask me what it is. So I tell them. Then they ask how much it cost. I tell them £30 sterling. They gape at my transparent bit of wibbly-wobbly almost in shock. You can see their calculating little greedy-brains working out that it cost more than a decent computer game.
I feel no guilt.
6" x 6" and 12" x 14" versions are also available.
The supplies needed for making monoprints with the gel plate are fairly minimal.
- Acrylic paint - craft paints are fine as you need a creamy consistency rather than a heavy bodied one.
- Paper - I gathered up some scrap paper for my first attempt. I used left over watercolor paper and some sheets from an acrylic paint pad. You could even practice on printer paper. You could (and I will) use a journal.
- Mark making tools - the end of a brush, rubber-tipped tools, stencils, combs, bubble wrap and sequin waste are all good.
- A brayer/roller to apply the paint.
- Water and paper towel to clean up.
How to Use the Gel Plate
Once I was organized, and I use the term loosely, I could begin painting. I made sure to remove the plastic protective sheets from the gel plate and covered my work surface with some clean bubble wrap, bubble side down. You could use a Teflon sheet, or a nice smooth baking tray. After placing the gel plate on my work surface, I dabbed on some paint. I was a little cautious with the colors to begin with.
The paint should be fairly liquid, but not runny. I wanted to thin mine out with a little acrylic glaze but I couldn't get the top off! Where is the man when I need him? I spread the paint out using a brayer.
Now the fun part begins. I experimented by drawing into the paint and scraping paint off. You could use the handle end of a paint brush or a comb or anything that won't damage the surface of the plate. I pressed stencils down and lifted them off. Rubber stamps also worked really well.
Once I created some pattern and texture - note, you won't be able to see much on the gel plate at this point – I gently laid down a sheet of paper on top of the plate. The paper didn't slide around as I expected as I applied a little pressure with my hands. Lifted the paper off and gasped at the perfection of my first effort at monoprinting.
I was away! Having watched a video where the demonstrator said there was no need to clean the plate between applications, I brayer-ed, stencilled and experimented like a crazy monoprinting thing. I couldn't take photos while I was doing all this because the paint was drying out quite quickly. You'll have to watch the videos on the right to see how easy the techniques are.
Gel Printing Plate: Results of First TrialClick thumbnail to view full-size
Carolyn Dube shows that anyone can use a Gelli Plate
Taking Care of the Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate
- Wash with warm, soapy water after use. You can also wipe the plate clean with a baby wipe or hand sanitizing gel and paper towel. Clean-up couldn't be easier. That baby just wants to be transparent and shiny.
- Store the gel plate in its original packaging. The manufacturers say it's okay to leave it on a flat, clean surface but if you have cats... The plate will leach mineral oil which could stain any surface it is left on. Just put it in the clamshell, then there won't be any problem.
- Only use acrylic or oil paint. Watercolors and inks will just puddle.
- Don't use pointed tools on your gel plate. If you do make a permanent mark, you can still use it but that mark will appear on all your prints. You can always turn it over if you do accidentally damage it.
I'm sure you have already guessed that I love this wibbly-wobbly gel plate. I enjoy creating backgrounds in my journals and for mixed media pieces, and this gives me so many more options to experiment with. The process is simple, fun and endlessly fascinating. I highly recommend the Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate. You need this, you really do.
Gelli Arts website.