Create with a Gel Printing Plate
I came across gel plates or Gelli Plates a couple of years ago, with a recommendation from a friend. She had made her own plate, but I chose to head over to handprinted.co.uk and made my purchase
I began watching a couple of YouTube videos, which I found interesting, but quickly decided that my colour choices wouldn’t include lime green and pink - just not for me and nor would I try out the gel nails that all the demonstrators seemed to favour.
Gel printing plates look and feel like gelatin, but are durable, reusable and store at room temperature; they come in a range of sizes and shapes, are easy to clean with mild soap and water or baby wipes and are always ready for printing. They are used in conjunction with acrylic paints and need no more equipment than a cheap roller to apply the paint. Paper is also inexpensive, as copy paper is all that’s needed
They are a lively and instant method for creating monoprints, with the advantage that they don’t require the use of a printing press. With this in mind, they are a cost effective way of developing a range of creative skills and outcomes, with this highly adaptable process inviting lots of experimentation.
Each print is unique.
I begin with placing a few dots of various colours of acrylic paint over my gel plate and roughly roll out the paint; it doesn’t have to be precise or particularly even. A sheet of copy paper is then placed onto the paint and gently burnished with the flat of your hand, before being firmly pulled away. If there’s still some paint remaining on the plate, a second print can be taken.
I tend to create around 6 of this initial prints, adding extra dots of acrylic paint when needed, before I wipe the plate clean with baby wipes or a damp cloth and change my colour palette. I play around with my colour choices, exploring harmonising/complementary, cool/warm or light/dark colours and if my brain feels sluggish I seek inspiration with a quick trawl through a few of my favourite Art books; images by Mark Hearld never fail me.
And now the fun can begin.
I have assembled an odd collection of objects and materials, which I use to create different qualities on my monoprints. These include: small decorating rollers with elastic band twisted around them, small blocks of wood with string or elastic bands placed around them, bubble wrap attached to blocks with double sided tape and short lengths of thick dowel with varying thickness of string secured to them.
I use these to roll and stamp onto the paint covered gel plate, creating patterns and textures, before in turn, replacing my collection of backgrounds onto the plate and burnishing the surface and removing the outcome. Some outcomes are now complete, whilst others need several re applications and changes of colour, in order to be something that I am happy with.
Moving onto more advanced techniques.
In the early stages of exploring how to use my gel plate, I was pretty happy with my outcomes, but then after watching a few more YouTube videos I tried various masking techniques using slender grasses and flowers, leaves and feathers.
Cutting your own stencils from thin plastic sheets, can be used to create both figurative and abstract outcomes and pattern, both regular and irregular can be very successful.
An adaptable process.
Within a relatively short time, you can create a range of monoprints that can be seen as outcomes in their own right or can be starting points for further processes, such as paintings or a lino cut. They can also be collaged and used to create cards, gift tags or used in creative journals and sketch pads.
Liz will be running a day from 10am - 4pm on Thursday 19th March - Create with a Gel printing plate