from Gelli Arts
These paper prints were some of the very first pulls I took from a new gel plate. For someone without any background in acrylics or painting, it was a very exciting moment in the studio. My whole world stopped until I could watch and read nearly everything out there about gel printing, and get more background on acrylics. I could see the potential to change the way I was approaching surface decoration.
Monoprinting with a Gel Plate
If you're not familiar with printing, this is a method to make a single, unrepeatable print. So, mono- meaning one. In the past, actual clear gelatin was used--think finger jello consistency, but the problem with it breaking down over several uses was an issue. Also, mold. This reusable product holds up much longer, and doesn't need refrigeratation.
*The 8" x 10" plate comes sandwiched between 2 pieces of acetate-like plastic sheets. They must be peeled off very slowly and carefully. One side came off perfectly, but the other had a tear at the edge, and small chunk further in. Be forewarned.
Referring to the photo above, you can see that I already had some acrylic paint on the plate, and had used a brayer to roll it out thinly. I was added some white drops to the surface, and then again, rolled it out.
This is shot of using a piece of fabric ironed onto freezer paper as a stabilizer. I simply wanted to show you here that the surface you are printing on goes face down on your gel plate, and then rub gently over the entire surface with either the palm of your hand or a brayer to even transfer the paint.
The acrylic paint can be carefully marked to add surface design to the print. Any tool which wouldn't puncture the gel surface is ideal. I used a plastic jar lid, the edge of a popsicle stick, and a wood graining tool here. To reveal, start at one corner, and lift gently. (The blue you can see is a piece of painter's tape which I've used to help anchor the gel plate with plastic backing still on it to a plexiglass sheet. You don't want it moving around while you print.)
I set that sheet aside to dry, and proceeded to print with some different colors. When I saw there was still some paint attached to the gel plate, I flipped the black print on it to pick some up. The gel does not have to be entirely covered to pull a print from it.
I think it added quite a bit of interest with just a touch of red.
You can see what happens when I applied the paint thickly. Opaque paint can entirely cover your previous work. Also, consider whether or not you are looking to add texture. If you are, it can be left as is, or use another tool and shape it how ever you'd like now. Waiting a minute or two is beneficial to have the paint get just the slightest bit tacky enough to hold the impression or texture.
Using a Medium with Acrylic Paint
Adding a medium to your paint is helpful if you are just beginning. It extends the span of time before your paint dries, and if you aren't quite sure what you're doing, that's helpful. Slo-Dri, matte or gloss medium, etc. all work. READ the labels to see what proportion it recommends!
Here I started by adding some locust tree fronds to the top of the plate as a stencil or resist. Then I rolled out red, yellow, and brown. I rolled a bit of color on top of others, and took a print. Because the colors were rolled out thinly, there is some beautiful aquamarine showing through the print that was unexpected. It was left on the plate from a previous print, and I like leaving those colors there for little pops of color.
If you don't like a print, wait until it's dry. Acrylic color changes a bit. You may be surprised.
Your Scrap Paper Is Valuable, Too!
Rolling different colors across the gel plate means you need to keep your brayer and tools cleaned off if you don't want muddied tones. I keep a stack of cheap copy paper beside me, and roll the brayer onto it until it is cleaned. This print above was nothing more than a cleaning paper until I went after it with a Micron pen. I think it's quite lovely as a scrap!
Keep a mixed media journal nearby to record some of your prints. This was a nice mix of the colors I was using one day, and I had a piece of bubble wrap with which I had removed color from the plate. I printed it over the first layer.
Heart to Heart
Some days I sit here and think about whether or not you, dear Reader, are still interested in what I'm doing. I question if I've gotten so far away from my beginning that I've lost you. I hope not! This is an exciting journey, and though it's full of bunny trails and tangents, it all comes around to fabric. We like fabric because of the color and print on it. I want to know everything I can about those two things. It's simple.
This week is full of new things. I'll show you my fabric prints, some bee blocks, a new quilt, and the list goes on. Pop back, and we'll have us a cup of tea or coffee, and chat. Today I'm off on an adventure with a friend. We're going off together to do some fresh air sketching, and hopefully will find some shade to watch the dragonflies dance across the pond.
Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go do our thing.