Ok so who wants to get their Gelli on?
Well DIY Gelatine plate actually!
You guys must have seen all the lovely monoprinting blog posts with the Gelli Arts Printing Plates around and about over the last few months I’m sure? If you haven’t spotted them and don’t know what I’m talking about then Gelli Plates are a synthetic gel surface that you can use for monoprinting with, which is a printmaking technique that gives a unique print – hence mono or one.
The Gelli plates are based on an old school technique using Gelatine (or Gelatin) plates used for years. The benefit of Gelli Plates (as I understand it ‘coz I don’t have one) over those made from Gelatine is that it is quick, non-perishable and reusable. But Gelli Plates do come in at a bit of a price (6″ x 6″ ~£19.99; 8″ x 10″ ~£29.99 well at least in the UK). Obviously if you use monoprinting a lot in your art you might be very happy to have a Gelli Arts Printing Plate.
I’ve been wanting to try monoprinting for a while now and the recipe has been open in a tab on my browser for ages so when I saw all those lovely monoprints on blogs I was inspired to get my finger out finally and try a bit of monoprinting!
But I thought I would go the cheaper route for the time being, ~69p for 70g Gelatine! So if any of you are wanting to dabble in monoprinting or see if Gelli Arts Printing plates are for you but don’t want to risk the cost then stick with me for a cheaper option, well at least until you find you can not live without a Gelli Plate that is!
Ok, so what will you need?
70g powdered Gelatine (Supermarket, Grocery store)
800ml Water (400ml cold water/ 400ml boiled water)
Tray (29cm long, 19cm wide, 2cm high)
Measuring tools (optional)
These are the measurements of water and Gelatine you need for a tray the size mentioned above but you can use any size you want just alter the recipe (see below) and if I was you I would use a disposable foil tray (I’m going to try that next time myself).
But bear in mind that the Gelatine will take on the shape of the container and if you want to use both sides of the gel then you might need a smooth container.
Their general rule of thumb is 2 tablespoons of Gelatine for every cup of water or 24g Gelatine for every 240ml water if you prefer metric (but it is a very approx conversion!).
First start dissolving your Gelatine in the cold water and I added my Gelatine in parts to the water to help it dissolve. Then mix the hot water in well. Use a spare piece of paper to skim most of the foam off and pour into the tray to around 1.5cm thick.
(Don’t throw any waste Gelatine solution down the drain, let it harden and throw it in the bin as it could clog the pipes.)
Skim off all the bubbles with a spare piece of paper and let it cool to set. It didn’t take long, around a couple of hours and I was using it. I think you can put it in the fridge if you need to.
Once it is firm to the touch you can get your printing on!
You will find a brayer or two very useful and then things for making marks, or masks, or fun textures. So things to try are paper, paper cut into shapes, packaging, string, paint combs, texture brushes, corrugated card, well the list is endless really!
Acrylic paints are perfect for monoprinting. But you can try oil paints and inks just be aware that they may effect the surface – dyes stain the Gelatine but doesn’t interfere with the print making.
Cover the surface with paint and use the texture makers to add interest, then layer the paper onto the surface and smooth down before peeling off.
I made quite a few prints, as you can imagine. The great thing is that you can just keep going, although I might have been a bit rough on my surface as I did end the day with a couple of nicks, but I wasn’t too concerned, I’ll still give it a few more uses.
Apparently the Gelatine plate will remain usable for around 3-5 days and I’ve covered it with cling film (Saran wrap) and placed it in the fridge (wonder how long before that gets noticed?).
Ok so no finished makes but lots of prints to show…
The first sample, top left is acrylic paint on fabric, the rest are on paper, there are some metallic paints in there too.
Yep it is FUN! and yep I would do it again with my Gelatine plate, it is much easier than it looks.
Still on the fence about buying a Gelli Arts Plate, but if you have one I would love to know what you think of it!
Before I go if you are looking for an even cheaper, even simpler and even vegetarian (well as far as I know!) method? Then check out this YouTube clip from JenniBellie, gonna need to try that too!
Have fun re-acquainting yourself with monoprinting techniques!
[EDIT: ps. there are some more monoprints with my DIY gelatine plate here.]