Gelli Plates Printing
A few years ago, the only way to make a gelatin print was to make a gelatin printing plate. The process was tedious, and the plates were temperamental, often disintegrating within an hour. That’s all in the past. Thanks to Gelli Arts, the soft and spongy
Tools & Products
Gelli Plate printing requires a Gelli Plate, a tool to apply paint, impression-making items (many found in a crafter’s stash), and paper or fabric on which to print.
Gelli Arts offers a variety of square and rectangular plate sizes (3 x 5–12 x 14-inch), round plates (4–8-inch) and mini plates in circles, squares, rectangles, ovals, hexagons and triangles (approximately 3 inches).
Gelli Arts recommends acrylic and oil paints for best results. Golden Artist paints are available in tubes which are very convenient to use to squeeze portions onto the plate. Ranger’s Dylusion paints come in jars but can easily be dolloped onto the plate with a craft stick.
Inks can be used but will permanently stain the plate. Although staining won’t affect future prints, it can hinder design visualization.
In addition to products specifically manufactured for art and crafting, there is an endless supply of household items that can make impressions in the paint: crumpled paper, plastic wrap, rubber bands, bubble wrap, plastic bottle caps, twine, corrugated cardboard, feathers, corks, combs, etc. Avoid anything with sharp or pointed edges that will mar the plate’s surface. Permanent scratches and gouging will appear in all future prints.
Using heavier-weight paper helps prevent buckling—especially if printing one sheet multiple times. Dylusions tags, journals and journal insert sheets by Ranger are exceptionally good choices. All three have white, matte, non-pilling paper. The journal insert sheets and tags are also available in black and kraft. Do not use any type of paper with a glossy finish because it will stick to and permanently damage the plate.
A Gelli Plate is used to create a monotype—a smooth surface that is then coated with paint. The surface can be left as is or modified by removing some of the paint. Paper is then pressed against the plate to produce a printed image. This process consists of four to seven basic steps.
Step 1: Apply paint to the Gelli Plate and spread with a brayer, a plastic trowel or a gift card (Photo 1). Alternatively, apply paint to a craft sheet, then pick up and transfer to the plate.
Step 2: (Optional) Create patterns or shapes in the paint with Gelli Arts Edge Tools, texture plates, etc.—anything that will leave an impression in the paint (Photo 2).
Step 3: (Optional) Place die cuts or stencils on the paint-covered plate to create masks, bray with contrasting paint, and then remove the die cut or stencil before printing (Photo 3).
Step 4: Press paper against the plate and gently burnish with your hands, a brayer or an acrylic block to transfer the paint evenly.
Step 5: Partially peel the paper from the plate and inspect for bald spots; return and re-burnish if needed. Once satisfied, “pull the print” (remove the paper) and set it aside to dry (Photo 4). Step 6: Immediately repeat steps 4 and 5 on a second paper to create a lighter, softer ghost print. Step 7: (Optional) Repeat steps 1–6 on a dried print to create another layer of color and/or pattern. Repeat and pull as many prints as desired. Another option is to use a smaller or mini-sized Gelli Plate as a stamp. Mount the plate on an acrylic block, follow steps 1–3, and stamp on the paper.
Care & Clean Up
Gelli Plates have a high content of mineral oil. Place the plate on a piece of copy paper, and use a craft sheet or glass cutting board beneath to protect porous surfaces. Clean with mild soap and water if the plate feels gummy or repels paint.
Cleaning the plate between prints is unnecessary but should always be done before storing. Remove paint with baby wipes, or spritz the plate with water and swab with a soft cloth or paper towel. Allow the plate to air dry before returning it to the original clamshell package, sheathing it between the accompanying plastic sheets. Store at room temperature.
Acrylic paint is best removed from tools, stamps and stencils before it dries (see Gelli Plate Tips).