Wednesday, March 8, 2023

My Recent Exploration into Gelli Printing

Back in 2021, I started exploring gel or gelli printing. I had seen many artists online doing this form of printing, and I decided I wanted to try it too. At that time, I spent a week or two printing with plants of all kinds. It was a lot of fun. Ever since, I have wanted to get back to it to learn more about the medium, but I could just never find the time. Until recently. I just gave myself the gift of play and further exploration into this form of printing. 

Gel or gelli printing is a form of mono printing, that uses a flexible gelatin plate to create prints using different textures and layers of color. Paint is rolled on the gelli surface with a brayer, just like you use in linocut printing. Then you place stencils or plants or other textural objects on the gelli plate, and you place your paper on top, and add pressure to the paper with your fingers or a baren. Once you lift off the paper, you have your printed image. 

You can buy or make your own gelatin plate. I have purchase a few sizes of plates from Gel Press that I like. I decided to purchase my plates instead of making them, for now, because they come in this protective plastic packaging, that you can store the plates in. The surface of the gel plate is sticky, and will attract dust and dirt and pet fur and... you name it. Being able to keep the plates surface clean is very important. In the future, I may try to make a plate, just for the heck of it. It seems like a fairly easy, and economical process. 

Gel printing is fairly easy to do. Figuring out what materials work best for a finished print is a bit of a challenge. That takes trial, effort and experimenting. I find that rice paper works well for printing with stencils. It may also work well with botanicals, I just haven't tried that yet. Other paper recommendations are 80 lb. papers, copy paper, economical packs of cardstock and drawing paper. You want a smooth surfaced paper to give you a more solid print.

I used acrylic paints for my prints. There are many brands available. I like the Liquitex and Artist's Loft brands, in tubes. I also tried liquid versions of acrylic paint in squeeze bottles. For me, the paint just was too thin. The tube paint is thicker and more pigmented, which I prefer. 

My goal in this exploration was to create beautiful papers to be used in the collage art I like to make. I mostly used stencils, because there was not a good choice of plants available in the beginning of March. My plan is to do more botanical printing in the summer.  I can tell you, I'm still learning. 

Placing a stencil on the inked plate.

Lifting a print.

Finished prints using stencils.

Finished prints using plants.

I do have some RESOURCES for you if you are into exploring gel printing too. 

Printers to check out online for botanical printing.  These are people I like.  Most of them are on Instagram, Facebook, and have websites.  The first two artists also have online courses available. 
One printer I know of that prints well with stencils is Elizabeth St. Hilarie of Paper Paintings Collage.  She has written three books on gel printing. She has online workshops available on her website, and you can see her print on You Tube.

Gel Press gel plates are available on Amazon, Blick, and MANY other online art stores, if they are not available locally where you live.

You can find MANY videos on how to make a gel plate on You Tube.

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