I recently discovered a new product that I’ve become obsessed with… the Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate. I’ve always loved monoprinting, but Gelli Plates take this art form to a whole new level.
Printmaking with a Gelli Plate is similar to gelatin printing, but the plate itself is much more durable, it’s reusable, you can store it at room temperature, and the resulting prints are fabulous! But I think the best thing about making prints with Gelli Plates is the process.
When was the last time you experienced the freedom and FUN of getting totally lost in the art-making process? This happens to me every time I get out my Gelli Plate!
Last weekend I invited a couple of my artist friends over for a Gelli Plate “play date”. I began by showing them some prints I had made — and they were instantly drawn in… they couldn’t wait to make prints of their own. We quickly became immersed in the process of making prints and sharing ideas… the hours flew by!
The Gelli printing process is simple, fast, and full of exciting surprises. Even when you try to duplicate an effect you got on an earlier print, there are always unexpected results. Every print is truly unique… no two are ever exactly alike. Pressing textured materials and shapes into the paint as you print successive layers creates a rich, complex arrangement of colors and patterns.
Gelli printing is like therapy for the perfectionist or control freak. If you’re not happy with one of your prints, you don’t have to stop there… just keep adding layers until you arrive at a print you love! And, no matter how much you try to manage the outcome, you can never completely control it. This forces you to let go and just have fun. Students who pressure themselves with perfectionism during art class may finally find freedom from that stress with Gelli printing.
Gelli prints make wonderful backgrounds for paintings and collages. Or, cut them up “Eric Carle style” for colorful, textured collage paper. Try painting a landscape or still life before applying your textures. You’re only limited by your imagination!
I’m just beginning to explore the possibilities for using Gelli Plates with kids. As a classroom supply, the drawback is their price. If you’re a teacher with a large class and a small budget, you may not be able to afford a class set all at once. But perhaps you could have a couple of Gelli Plates on hand as an option for early finishers, use them in “centers” during a unit on printmaking, or have students work in groups, sharing a Gelli Plate between several students.
For inspiration, check out the Gelli Arts web site, the Gelli Arts blog, Gelli Arts on Facebook, the Teach Kids Art Gelli Print board on Pinterest, Gelli Printing on You Tube, and The Art of Education’s recent interview with Lou Ann Gleason, the co-founder of Gelli Arts. I’ll also be posting a step-by-step tutorial soon.
Gelli Plates are available in four sizes: 6x6, 8x10, 12x14 and an 8″ circle. You can buy them online from Dick Blick Art Materials or directly from the Gelli Arts website. Some art retailers also carry them. Have some fun with a Gelli Plate yourself and imagine the possibilities!
(For an inexpensive version of monoprinting that everyone can afford, see my earlier posts on making monoprints using aluminum foil, tempera paint, and Q-Tips!)