By Nicole Tinkham
Interested in the new Gelli printing craze? We recently received several requests for Gelli plates (from Gelli Arts) in our retail store and as soon as we got them, they flew off the shelves. So what exactly are they, how are they used, and why will you want to rush out and buy one? We are happy to answer these questions and more in this blog post.
What are they?
Let’s begin by talking about gelatin plates (a homemade version of the Gelli plate). Whether homemade or store-bought, these gel plates allow you to produce a textured print on fabric or paper with the use of stencils and stamps. See below for information on how to make your own gelatin plate.
For a 9 x 12 plate:
6 tablespoons gelatin powder
1 ½ cups cold water
1 ½ cups hot, almost boiling water
Mix gelatin powder with cold water in a 9 x 12 pan until blended (mixture will be thick). Gradually add the hot water and mix until gelatin dissolves. Do your best to remove any bubbles from the surface. Let set in refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Remove from pan and your gelatin plate is ready for use!
You can also purchase pre-made plates known as the infamous “Gelli Plates”. These come in the following sizes:
6 x 6
8 x 10
12 x 14
How to use them
Whether you choose to purchase a Gelli plate or make your own, the process in which they are used remains the same. As mentioned above, stencils and stamps can be used when printing with these plates.
- With your plate laid out at your work station, cover it with paint. We recommend using acrylic paints. Inks and dyes should not be used on Gelli plates because the gel can absorb the ink and permanently stain it. Of course, if you’re using a homemade gelatin plate that would be thrown out after a week anyway, it wouldn’t make a difference if it got stained. Acrylics do tend to dry fast so make sure you work quickly!
- Place your stencil down on the wet paint and lay the material that you are printing on over the stencil.
- Use a brayer or your hands to press the material down into the paint. Lift the material off and you have your printed piece! The fun part is creating layers so once the paint is dry, feel free to repeat the process with different stencils.
- Coat your plate with a thin layer of acrylic paint.
- Press your stamps (or anything with texture) into the wet paint. You are essentially removing the paint from the plate.
- Lay your material on the stamped plate and press it into the paint with your hands.
- Lift the material off the plate and you have your printed piece! As with the stencil method, layering is encouraged!
Having a hard time visualizing the awesomeness of gel plate designs? View the video below to see different inspiring techniques!
Gelatin vs. Gelli plates
So far we’ve discussed homemade gelatin plates and Gelli plates and how they both get the job done when printing. We also mentioned that after reading this blog, you would want to run out and buy your own Gelli plate. While homemade gelatin plates are simple and cheap to make, pre-made Gelli plates are much more convenient. Below is a list of reasons why you want one.
- No planning needed – gelatin plates require prep time
- Can be used over and over again – gelatin plates only last up to a week
- No rush to get done a bunch of prints at once
- Can save money in the long run
- Saves time (for more prints!)
- Provides firmer surface to work on
- Multiple sizes available
Taking care of your Gelli Plate
Assuming you ran out and purchased your very own Gelli plate just now, it’s time to talk about caring for it. To ensure a long lasting plate, try to take care of it as best you can with these easy tips:
- The package in which your Gelli plate has come in is actually meant for storage. If you got over-excited and already trashed the plastic packaging, you can always store your plate on a tray or piece of glass. Just remember to lay it flat on a smooth, clean surface.
- While it’s not necessary to clean your plate between prints, you should clean it before storage using soap and warm water. You can also use hand sanitizer or baby wipes to remove paint residue.
- Do not wrap plastic wrap or wax paper around your plate as this causes the wrinkled texture to be imprinted onto your plate.
- Keep your plate away from fire and other heat sources.
Have further questions? Ask us in the comment box below, give us a call (941-747-2995), or stop in and ask our art experts.