How a "Creativity-Killer" Inspired This Hot New Monoprinting Technique

While new ideas come to fruition every day, those of us in the art world know that brand new art products don’t hit the shelves as often. That’s why it’s so exciting to see that where there’s a need, there’s often a create way to fulfill that need. When Joan Bess realized that there was an easier way to create a monoprint, she teamed up with a friend and made it happen. In this excerpt from Gelli Plate Printing: Mixed-Media Monoprinting Without a Press, learn how they created a “dream printing plate” (pin this article on Pinterest for future reference). Then, click here for a special offer on our exclusive Kit of the Month, which features Gelli Plate Printing and so much more!

Happy printing,

"Marsh is the result of acrylics painted directly on the Gelli plate then pulled onto Vietnamese rice
paper," says artist Dot Krause. "It was completed with pastels to create additional depth." (

Gelli Plate Printing (an Introduction) by Joan Bess

Something exhilarating happened when I started monoprinting on gelatin plates several years ago—sheer FUN! Winging it with an experimental attitude, playing with paint, color, texture, and moving at a fast pace! Grabbing every textured surface in sight and smooshing it into the painted plate. The adrenaline rush when pulling each print off the plate! And in no time—a stack of amazing prints! Everything about this printing process was magical—except the gelatin. Ugh! In my experience, it turned mushy, fell apart, got moldy, and took up too much space in the refrigerator. Worse yet—not always having a plate ready when I wanted to print was, for me, an annoying creativity killer.

Cardboard Composition by Michelle Ward (,
who explains: "Brayer acrylic paint onto the Gelli plate and add texture
with cardboard tubes and the edge of a piece of double-laminated
cardboard. Mask off the edges with torn paper, then pull a print. Clean
the surface of the plate then brayer on more paint, and add texture
with corrugated cardboard and a scrunched-up plastic bag. Mask off
the edges with torn paper, then pull a print onto the same paper.
Spray the Gelli plate with water and press the paper over selected
sections. Mop up random paint remnants with the top and bottom of
the paper. Finally, add journaling with paint pens, dry-brush the
surface and make additional marks with stencils."

It was a small leap from thinking about the concept of a non-perishable gel plate to becoming obsessed with having one. After looking around and learning there was no such thing available, I ran the product idea past my friend Lou Ann Gleason. Understand, Lou Ann is a career businesswoman with an impressive Fortune 100 resume that does not include making art. So when she came to my studio and had a total blast creating prints on a gelatin plate, we knew we were on to something.

As a result of that eventful day of studio play, we joined forces, formed Gelli Arts® and went to work. After a year-long journey to produce our dream printing plate, we hit the ground running by introducing to the world a new, convenient and exciting monoprinting experience. Thanks to our social media expert, Nancy Kelley, word travelled quickly across the Internet. And the world responded! Gelli printing has taken the art and craft world by storm. Across all corners of the globe—artists and crafters, teachers and students, men and women, seniors and children are taking brayer in hand, rolling out acrylic paint, making their marks and pulling incredible prints. It’s easy, fun and totally addicting.

If you’re experienced in monoprinting, you’re sure to find techniques in this book that will send you off in new directions. If you haven’t tried Gelli printing yet, this book will guide you through the basics and give you the confidence to give it a go and get you hooked.

The objective of creating fine art prints is just one way to approach Gelli printing. Many monoprints are simply good beginnings for a vast range of projects. It’s great fun to work back into prints with various media, layer over them, journal on them, or tear them up and use the snippets for collage. Follow your own creative path and include Gelli prints in your mixed-media art, art journals, card making, scrapbooking, quilting, fiber arts jewelry, and much more!” ~J.B.

Sign up for the newsletter, and get a free download on printmaking techniques!


Art Business, Blog, Printmaking


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.