Gelli plates are a quick, easy, and FUN way to make the most amazing monoprints. Once you experience this process for yourself, you’ll be addicted — like me!
Just follow these simple steps to make your own unique Gelli prints.…
- Gelli plate (available in 6x6, 8x10, 12x14, and an 8″ circle)
- Acrylic paints (student or even craft grade is fine — different types of paints will yield different results!)
- Rubber brayer
- Materials for layering and texturing (bubble wrap, string, cut paper shapes, rubber bands, etc.)
- Paper (the same size or a little larger than your Gelli plate — I used plain copy paper, but you can try anything!)
- Hand sanitizer (for cleaning dried paint from your Gelli plate)
- Baby wipes (optional, but makes for easy clean-up!)
There are so many ways to print with a Gelli plate… watch this video or follow the steps below to see one way to do it:
Squeeze out a small amount of acrylic paint. (Note: I experimented with both student grade and artist grade paints, and both work well. You’ll get a slightly different effect with each different paint you try, so play around and see what you like. I also tried tempera paint, but it crawled and wouldn’t stick to the Gelli plate, so I don’t recommend it.)
Spread the paint with a rubber brayer. You can cover your plate all the way to the edges, or apply the paint only where you want it.
Press some bubble wrap (or another material for creating texture) onto your Gelli plate, and then remove it.
Now lay a piece of paper onto your Gelli plate, rub it well, then carefully peel it off. You’ve made your first print! Work as quickly as you can so your paint doesn’t start to dry.
One of the best things about Gelli printing is how easy it is to achieve complex-looking effects, simply by working in layers! Here I’m adding some yellow paint to my Gelli plate.… no need to clean the old color off first, unless you want to. Letting the new color mix a little with the previous color will produce even more interesting results!
For my next layer, I added some string. You could also cut some shapes out of paper for a resist, or draw with a Q-tip. Just don’t use anything that’s sharp (like a pencil) and may cut into your Gelli plate, or you’ll be seeing that design on all of your future prints!
Now, lay your original print on top of your Gelli plate again to add another new layer. Press well, then carefully peel away your print.
Without re-inking, make a “ghost print” by laying another piece of paper (blank or printed) on top of your plate. Sometimes these ghost prints look even better than the originals!
Repeat this process, making prints and ghost prints, until you have results you’re happy with. There’s no limit to the number of times you can layer prints over a print!
When it’s time to clean up, I found baby wipes to be an easy alternative to rinsing my Gelli plate in the sink. Add a squirt of hand sanitizer to loosen any dried-on acrylic paint.
This is just one technique for making monoprints with a Gelli plate. Try experimenting with a variety of materials for layering and adding texture.… or go a different direction and use a brush for a more painterly effect. For more on Gelli printing, see my earlier post, “Making Monoprints with a Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate”. Imagine all the creative ways you can use these unique prints for backgrounds, collages, and more. The sky’s the limit!
Have you tried Gelli printing?
What ideas do you have for using Gelli prints in the classroom or on your own?