Texture-Boosting Monoprinting Techniques

If you read this blog regularly, you know I looooove gelatin printing, especially with my Gelli ArtsTM printing plate. But I have to say, I've been in a bit of a rut. I've used some basic masks. I've made marks with a few tools. But I am looking to go further and make my monoprints more complex, with layers of textures and colors.

collage monoprints by jodi ohl
Collage monoprints on blocks by Jodi Ohl.

So, I spent some time looking at the blogs of artists who create gelatin monoprints (with a purchased plate or one they made from scratch with gelatin) and also spent some time on the GelliArts blog (gelliarts.blogspot.com).

Here are some of the tips I learned:

  • Use a variety of tools and found objects to create texture on your plate, and overlap them. For example, after you ink your plate, lay a stencil on the plate and then lightly press a textured mat or plate on top of the stencil. When you remove them, the imprint from the mat will appear only through the cutouts on the stencil, making for more interesting texture.
  • Combine flat and slightly raised items on the plate together. For example, lay a piece of string over a sheet of sequin waste. Press your paper or fabric on top of both at the same time.
  • Wipe out the paint or ink. Use a comb, a rubber spatula, a pencil eraser, a plastic fork, or the end of a spool to remove some of the paint or ink before printing.
  • Use cut Tyvek® shapes as a mask. Tyvek is more durable than paper, so it's easier to use the shapes over again when pulling multiple similar prints.
  • Spritz. Keep a small spray bottle of water handy and spritz the inked plate to create a spatter effect.

But the best way to get complex gelatin monoprints is to layer them. Here is the basic tutorial from GelliArts:

gelatin plate ready for monprinting by geliiarts
gelatin monoprint by gelliarts
gelatin monoprint by gelli arts
The top image shows the plate prior to
pulling the first print. Several textures
and some masks have been laid down.
The second image shows the paper after
the second printing.
The third image is the last print.
(All images above courtesy of GelliArts.)

1. Ink your plate with a brayer, edge to edge, and use several different texturizing tools (gridded rubber mats, bubble wrap, sequin waste, etc.) to create a background texture.

2. Lay down some masks (such as Tyvek Os and artistically arranged string) and pull your print by pressing your paper over the top of the plate and smoothing your hands over it.

3. Lift your paper and put it aside to dry. Pull a ghost print on a new sheet of paper. Remove the masks and clean your plate.

4. Start the process over with a new color of ink or paint and laying down textures and your masks.  Take the first print you made and place it on top of the plate, smoothing over the back of the paper to create the print. Set it aside and make a ghost print (with the same paper you used for the first ghost print). Remove the masks and clean the plate.

5. Repeat the process a third time with a different color of ink.

Now, that's texture.

Experiment with different inks and paints to see what kinds of effects you can get. In the examples shown here from GelliArts, Joan Bess used Golden® Open Acrylics which are transparent and slow-drying. In Jodi Ohl's example, Jodi mixed Golden Artist Colors® Open Medium with acrylic paints to keep the paints from drying too fast.

In the March/April 2013 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, you'll find Jodi's tutorial for how to combine Gelli printmaking with collage, mounting the collaged monoprints on blocks of wood. If you subscribe to Cloth Paper Scissors, you should be receiving your copy of this issue in a few days. It's filled with texture ideas for printmaking, three-dimensional art, and painting.

P.S. Do you make gelatin monoprints? How do you create texture? Share your ideas and tips below.

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