My experiences using a Gelli Arts Printing Plate.
What is a Gelli plate –
A Gelli plate is for creating monoprints without a press. The plate I am using is produced by Gelli Arts, and is about 3/4 of an inch thick. Gelli plates can be homemade using gelatine but are not very durable. They need to be kept in a refrigerator and only keep for about a week. Recipes for this can be found on line.
Before purchasing a Gelli plate, I watched several demos on YouTube. Most of them were about creating patterns and backgrounds, using stencils and stamps. This method is very effective with the plate. However, I want to create something more original and personal to me, if I use stencils and stamps, I prefer to create my own. I will send a later blog explaining how I do this.
The reason I was interested in a gelli plate, was to be able to create monoprints and original greeting cards.
Basic methods using the Gelli plate –
Small amounts of acrylic paint, about the size of a pea, are squeezed and randomly spaced out across the surface of the plate, then rolled out using a brayer, – a brayer is a type of roller used for printmaking. The amount of paint varies depending on the make. If the brayer skids instead of rolling, it’s usually a sign there is too much paint.
The surface of the paint can be drawn into or textured. This can be achieved with stamps or stencils, or anything that patterns the surface, such as, crumpled paper, fabric, leaves, netting or textured wallpaper. Then, placing a sheet of paper on top and sliding your hands over the surface, to apply enough pressure to transfer the print. The paint soon dries and several layers can be built up.
Masks, created by cut paper, tape, ribbon or string, can be placed on the paint surface before printing to retain chosen areas of colour or pattern between layers.
It is not necessary to clean the plate between prints. You can usually get a second print, called a ‘ghost print’ from one application, and sometimes a third. By then, the plate will practically be clean.
Paint does not always have to be applied with a brayer. It can be applied with a brush, sponge or credit card, for example, but this will affect the smoothness or texture of the print.
Cleaning the Gelli plate –
If you do want to clean the Gelli plate, just use mild soapy water, hand sanitiser or a baby wipe. If paint is left on the plate, it will be reactivated next time paint is applied and pulled up with the paint. This can create an interesting texture to the print.
The first time I used a Gelli plate, I couldn’t believe how many variables there were. For example, the amount of paint to apply, the make of paint to use, and the kind of paper etc. I am still trying to overcome these issues.
In my next blog I will share some of my experiences using different types of materials.