How to make your own gelli monoprinting plate and save money

I have always loved art printing ever since I tried lino printing in high school. Now my new favourite way to print is using gelli monoprinting plates. The results are lovely and sharp and there are lots of cool effects that can be achieved by painting onto the gel. Gelli monoprinting plates can be pricey if you buy them in an art store but here I will take you through the steps of creating your own at home for a fraction of the cost.

Last week at the mixed media group that Michelle Stratton runs at the Henley and Grange Arts Society we tried out gelli printing. It was the first time that I had used one and I fell in love. The gel was so easy to paint on and make all sorts of patterns. I liked using baking paper to mask a silhouette and the way that many prints can be made very quickly. So I got to experiment with a lot of different colours and patterns for the same image.

One of the other participants at the group had made her own gelli monoprinting plate for printing. I thought that was such a great idea and immediately wanted to give it a try.

Side by side comparison of ‘Flying Mermaid’ and the reference image (photographer Casey Grimley)

Making the gelli monoprinting plate

Ingredients:

1 cup boiling water

1 cup glycerine

6 tablespoons gelatine

flat bottomed dish

Note: The dish needs to have no pattern in the bottom as the bottom surface is the one that will be used for painting on and printing. The size of the dish will be the finished size of your gel printing plate.

Instructions to creat the gelli monoprinting plate:
  1. Dissolve gelatine into boiling water so that there are no lumps
  2. Add glycerine and combine quickly
  3. Place the mixture into the dish, try to remove the bubbles if you can but don’t worry too much if there are a few left there. The bubbles end up at the top edge of the plate which is not the surface that you use for printing
  4. Cover with plastic wrap
  5. Put the dish containing the mixture into the fridge at least overnight
  6. Check that the middle of the gel plate has set completely by pressing the gel
  7. Peel the gel plate out of the dish
  8. You can now print with your plate or store it in plastic wrap

Progress photos of creating my own gelli monoprinting plate

The finished gelli monoprinting plate

Reference Image

I was sent this lovely photograph from Tracie Eberle on Instagram who commissioned me to create an artwork from it. This image made the perfect silhouette to use on the gelli monoprinting plate.

photographer Casey Grimley

Instructions on using your home made gelli monoprinting plate

These are just instructions on how I have used the gelli monoprinting plate, but you should experiment and find out how you want to use yours. I thought that I would provide these instructions just to get you started.

First I put several blobs of acrylic paint onto the gel and used a roller to distribute the paint. I then added a swirly pattern  into the paint using a toothed plastic card. To mask off a portion of the plate, I put a baking paper cutout of the mermaid on lyra design on top of the paint. The paper was then pressed onto the painted gel surface to transfer the print.

This process can be altered to give your piece an interesting background

Progress photos of using the gelli monoprinting plate to create ‘Flying Mermaid’ prints

Showing some of my prints in progress and one already done

 

Showing all the prints that I made in the mixed media session

 

Prints of ‘Flying Mermaid’ available in my online store

 

If you find this post useful I would love to hear from you and see your creations.