Gelli Printing with Multiple Plates

Acrylic gelli print
Acrylic gelli print, 12″ x 18″

I’m deep in the creative cave again and when I am I sometimes forget to use my words. I often forget to pick up my camera to get pictures of how I am doing things. Now I’m taking a moment to try to give you a peak at how things are progressing.

Beyond The Story

The work I am doing right now is for Beyond The Story, the show I am doing with Rebecca Shapiro and Lisa Sonora Beam at the Hillsboro Library Sept 3- October 30, 2014.

It’s a big gallery space. The work I was doing is only 9″ x 12″ which seemed small unless I hang a number of them together. Which I might do. But I am also experimenting with other ways of creating larger work. It’s almost like the small pieces are paragraphs and now it’s time to write some chapters.

Using multiple gelli plates

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I had a 6″ x 6″ and a 8′ x 10″ gelli plate. I did some interesting things with multiple gelatin plates, so I thought I’d try it with the commercial gelli plates. I bought another plate of each size, and started working across them to expand the size I could print.

It works fairly well. I do get lines where the plates come together so I do think about how I can make those work in the image. I’m experimenting with various kinds of paper, from architectural vellum to printing papers.

I’ve also started making pairs of smaller pieces that go together. These are printed on a thin dry wax paper used in delis.

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Pair of gelli printed deli papers
pair of gelli printed deli papers
pair of gelli printed deli papers


pair of gelli printed deli papers
pair of gelli printed deli papers

Gelatin Printing

playing with gelatin printing
Barbara and Kathryn exploring gelatin printing


Gelatin printing is a method where you use a sheet of thick gelatin as a printing plate to make a one of a kind print. I’d never done it before, so I corralled my art buddy Barbara who had tried it to show me and Kathryn how to do it.

I had no particular goal other than wanting to see how it worked. There are a number of ways to create a monoprint. The advantage of many of them is you work quickly and never know exactly what you are going to get. I like some of the spontaneous things that occur  that can then inspire other things later.

I had been doing intricate detailed drawings. I really enjoy doing that kind of work, but if I do too much of it I start to get tight. Not just phyically from leaning over the page, but visually too. My work can start to feel static and lifeless. A medium that forces me to loosen up really helps get some life back into my work.

The Gelatin Plate

The plate is made by making a thick batch of Knox Gelatin. You pour it into some kind of shallow mold and let it set. In our case, Barbara showed up with the plates all ready to go.

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A gelatin printing plate


This is a cookie sheet with a piece of glass on top of it. On top of the glass are two pieces of gelatin about 1/2″ thick. The gelatin and glass are then wrapped together with plastic wrap.

There is something almost alive feeling about the plates. Not as wiggly as a piece of jello, but it has give to the surface. They are kept wrapped and refrigerated until you are ready to use them.

The Printing Process

You can use a variety of different kinds of paints. We used Speedball inks which are made for block printing. The ink was rolled out on a piece of glass to get the brayer evenly coated.

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The ink was rolled over the gelatin plate.

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We make marks on the plate, either by carefully laying something on it or dragging something across it.

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A piece of paper was laid on top, and we rubbed over the back of it with our hands.

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The Prints

We got a wide variety of effects playing with different colors and textures. It was fast and furious. We also played with a variety of paper types.

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What’s Next

We now each have a variety of different textures on our paper. I am drawing back into mine. I’ll show you soon what I am coming up with.