Tea for Tuesday – Monoprinting

This morning I started with blank paper, some printing inks, and a Gelli Arts gelatin printing plate, and within an hour I had some pretty cool monoprints I could use for backgrounds in collage.

green tea collage using monoprinting techniques
"Green Tea" by Cate Prato using monoprinting techniques.

As the theme of this blog is "tea," I thought I would use some tea-related masks and stamping tools while printmaking. I cut out a stylized spoon from some computer paper and pulled a teabag out of the cupboard, to start.

With the Gelli Arts plate, you don't have to make a gelatin plate from scratch, so set-up time was minimal. I keep all my paints and inks for printing in a big tub with my brayers and found object stamps. I set everything on a dropcloth and began spreading my ink and paint onto the plate with the brayer.

I laid down the teabag, jiggled it every so slightly to make an impression, and carefully pulled it up. Then I laid down the spoon mask but left it there while printing. To make the monoprint (essentially, a print that is one-of-a-kind), I pressed a piece of paper down onto the plate, smoothed the back of it with my hands, and then peeled it off.

It's always a thrill to pull the gelatin monoprint, because you really never know exactly what you're going to get. I kind of liked the starkness of my first print, but kept going.

On the next print, I made wavy lines in the paint with a plastic fork, then used the teabag as a stamp again. The string and tag of the teabag made only a faint impression.

I decided the background needed more texture, so I pulled out two old monoprinting friends: bubble wrap and plastic ice cream cups with a scalloped edge. I also added more green to the ink mix. This time, I also put down the spoon mask, but lifted it off before making the print. When I viewed the monoprint I thought, "Now we're getting somewhere." I really like the ghostly shape of the spoon.

I did a few more of these and then let them dry. This would also give me time away from the prints so I could come back to them with fresh eyes.

tea-themed gelatin monoprint
One of my first tea-themed
monoprints.

The great thing about monoprinting is there is never any waste. You can always cut up "failed" prints for collage or use them as backgrounds for something else.

Later in the day, I chose one of the monoprints and started designing a collage with some found papers. I drew and cut out a teacup out of wedding wrapping paper with words printed on it. On top of that I smeared some gesso, then spritzed it with Smooch Spritz in Berry. I dabbed a little more gesso here and there once the Smooch was dry, then smeared on a little red and yellow oxide fluid acrylic by Golden.

I glued the teacup on top of the gelatin monoprint, first placing a piece of handmade paper under to give the bottom of the design some weight and so the teacup wouldn't look like it was floating. Using a stencil and an Adirondack paint dauber in apple green, I stenciled the word Tea on the collage. I honestly didn't plan it this way, but the green paint and the green handmade paper seem to match perfectly and balance each other out against the purple. 

Also unplanned: it seems to me the style of the stencil font and the grasscloth-looking paper give the piece a Japanese flavor. So I'm calling it "Green Tea."

What do you think? What might you have done differently? Please leave your comments below.

And don't forget to follow along on #PinTeaTuesday!

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Blog, Printmaking

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