Gelli Plate Printing, Demystified | Printmaking Techniques

Insider secret: Our team has rounded up the 15 most popular mixed-media products of 2015 and we want to share them with you! If you’ve held off treating yourself to any of these items, now’s the time! Get them today at 15% off during the “Top 15 of 2015” sale at Interweave. (Use the coupon code ARTOF15. Scroll down to find the complete list of sale items.)

One of the featured DVDs in our Top 15 sale is Jodi Ohl’s Collage Characters: Exploring Gelli Plates for Colorful Results. Jodi was kind enough to share with us an overview of printmaking with a Gelli® Plate, along with some great tips. Read on to see what Jodi has to say!  ~Cherie

Explore Gelli Plates for Colorful Printmaking Results  |
This lesson is from one of Jodi’s mixed-media art workshops. Learn more in her ‘Collage Characters: Exploring Gelli Plates for Colorful Results’ DVD (now 15% off with the coupon code ARTOF15). Pin this!

Printmaking: The Basics of Monoprinting With a Gelli Plate by Jodi Ohl

Monoprinting with the Gelli Arts printing plate is a great way to enjoy a day of art, creating prints both simple and elaborate with paint, paper, and a few tools. Stamps, stencils, and scrapers, are just a few of the options for creating interesting prints.

One of the things I love about printing with the Gelli plate is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. At the same time, the more you print, the more variety, depth, and interest you create because you become more confidant in the process. With time, you also learn what type of paint and materials work best to create intriguing prints. Just like most things in life, the more you use the Gelli plate, the better you get. There’s always something fun to learn and try.

Can you create mud with printing? Sure. You can create mud with any painting you do. Will there be some prints you love more than others? Absolutely! Are the not-so-great prints ones that should be thrown out? Heck, no! You can almost always revise and enhance any print. The beauty of using acrylic paints for any project is the fact that after they’re dry, you can easily add more paint, if you like.

Paper Options For Gelli Plate Printmaking

There are many possible substrates to print on. When I’m experimenting, I like to use copy paper as it’s the least expensive option. The only thing to remember is that some papers are thinner than others and could (will) potentially wrinkle. The more layers of paint you add to lightweight papers, the more the ‘body’ of the paper will build up.

Some papers I’ve used in the past include:
• Copy paper
• Newsprint
• Drawing paper
• Deli wrap
• Dictionary and old book pages
• Heavy tissue paper
• Scrapbook paper
• And, don’t forget junk mail–old envelopes and other types of scrap papers are interesting.

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Explore Gelli Plates for Colorful Printmaking Results | Jodi Ohl,
Thank you so much for joining me in learning this printmaking technique! If you’re interested in more classes or items I have for sale, be sure to stop by my website: and find my books and DVDs at the Interweave store.

Paint Options for Printmaking

You can use any type of acrylic paint and some water-soluble inks with the Gelli Plate. You will, however, see a difference in how your prints look when using craft paints versus professional artist grade paints. There are also differences among translucent and opaque paints, metallic paints and glazes.

One thing to note: Craft paint is a good choice because it’s so affordable and accessible. The drawback is that it has a lot of water in it, so it may bead up on the printing plate. It also dries quickly and you may find that the colors aren’t always as vibrant as higher quality paint.

If you’re trying to print something that’s a bit more detailed and you need more working time, you can mix open medium or glazing medium with the paint you choose. These allow the paint to stay ‘wet’ or ‘open’ long enough for you to pull a good print.

In-Depth Prints and Making Your Mark

Once you’re more comfortable with the basics, you can move on to more in-depth printing by using multiple colors of paint, layering prints on top of one another, and making unique marks with stencils, mark-making tools, and/or textural elements. (Think netting from a produce bag, rubber bands, doilies, cotton swabs, etc. You can also use more than one piece of paper when pulling a print on a Gelli Plate, choose to paint only a portion of the plate, stamp onto the plate, and print on a “dirty” plate to increase the grittiness of your prints. The possibilities are endless.

Evaluating and Enhancing Your Prints

You’re naturally going to find that some prints are more pleasing than others. The truth is, some prints won’t be amazing, but there’s a good possibility that even within those less-than-successful prints, you’ll have pockets of genius somewhere on the page. Alternatively, you might be able to add a few enhancements to make the print look more cohesive. Take a close look at the different sections of your print as you critique your work. This will help you identify areas that are working (Try using sheets of paper to crop or a pre-cut matte window to crop it). If the colors aren’t working, try toning them down by using a white wash or other neutral glaze over the top of your print.Also, try over stamping to add a pattern on top of your print.

What To Do With Your Bounty of Printed Paper

• Use paper punches to make tags and other embellishments from your prints
• Use the printed sheets for card making
• Cut the papers and add collage elements to your journal
• Use them as collage elements in a more elaborate painting/collage project
• Create a background for Artist Trading Cards
• Use them as a jumping off point for doodling or additional painting techniques
• Create backgrounds for jewelry projects (use them in bezels or under glass)

You may want to create a system for storing your papers once you have a lot of prints. You can store them by color, or by paper type. I preferred the latter option when I first started because certain papers worked better for certain projects, and this method made it easier to find the papers I needed. But I discovered that once I had a lot of paper, grouping by color was the best way to stay organized. ~Jodi

Learn even more printmaking techniques and tips in Jodi’s Collage Characters: Exploring Gelli Plates for Colorful Results DVD. Remember, use the coupon code ARTOF15 to save 15% today!

Learn new printmaking techniques in this free eBook when you join our newsletter for daily tips, special offers, and more!


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