Gelli Baby!


I recently picked up a set of gelli plates and although I have dabbled a tiny bit in other printing methods such as linocut, I'm somewhat addicted to all things Gelli. Its quite infuriating to begin with as over the course of a weekend I was surrounded by a dark painted mess of failed prints. Eventually you get the hang of it, everything has to be just right. The right initial image, the right Gel surface, the right amount of acrylic paint, the right "push" pressure , the right length of time until a pull, so on and so forth.

Steeped in the venerable traditions of printmaking, gelli printing emerged propelled by the revolutionary gel printing plate. Unlike its predecessors reliant on cumbersome printing presses, the gel plate heralded a new era of accessibility and spontaneity in the art form.

The genesis of the gel plate can be traced to the latter half of the 20th century, Crafted from supple and resilient materials like silicone, the gel plate has recently proved popular with artists on social media.

Process of Gelli Printing:

  1. Material Preparation:

   - Assemble your arsenal: Arm yourself with the essentials—a gel printing plate, an array of vibrant acrylic paints, an assortment of brayers, and a treasure trove of mark-making tools, from stencils to stamps and found objects.

   - Using a system of resistance against the paint when you complete a pull you can transfer images including your original sketches as I have done.

  1. Painting the Canvas:

   - Choreograph a symphony of colours: Apply dollops of acrylic paint onto the gel plate, allowing hues to dance and mingle, weaving a tapestry of random tones.

   - Master the art of diffusion: Harness the power of brayers to elegantly spread paint across the gel plate, achieving a seamless and uniform canvas.

  1. Embrace Texture and Design:

   - Weave a visual tapestry: Engage in a spirited dialogue with your canvas, employing an array of mark-making techniques to infuse depth and character. Experiment with stencils to evoke intricate motifs, stamping to leave indelible imprints, and found objects to introduce serendipitous textures.

  1. The Moment of Revelation:

   - Unveil your mess/success: Reverently lay a pristine canvas upon the adorned gel plate, allowing the alchemy of pressure and pigment to the transfer.

   - Peel back the veil: With bated breath, lift the canvas to reveal the enchanting tableau of your gelli print, each layer a testament to spontaneity and expression.

  1. To do an image transfer on a gelli plate, first place your desired image face down onto the plate, then gently burnish the back of the paper to ensure good contact with the plate. Finally, carefully peel away the paper to reveal the transferred image on the gelli plate.but it's absolutely trial and error needing a mixture of a soft touch but the need for speed!

I've been pleased with the prints from the "pull" and added some embellishments afterwards, quite good fun although I've had some inconsistent results (a lot of shockers)I'm not sure if it's me (highly likely) or the nature of the medium? 

I think they'd make a great addition (if I keep practising ) to provide hand made but affordable prints of some of my original pop artwork. I'd better tidy the mess up now!


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