Speed Up Your Art Process with Monoprinting

23 Sep 2013

Monoprinting is one of favorite ways to get paint and pattern on a substrate. With just a small investment in materials, you can create endless unique backgrounds, designs, and color combinations.

gelatin monprints by jodi ohl
Jodi Ohl used gelatin monoprints for these "creative blocks."
Because every monoprint is unique, you can guarantee that your prints will have a look no one can duplicate, even if they use the same process.

Today, I'm sharing Jodi Ohl's process for gelatin printing on paper using a Gelli ArtsTM printing plate, from the March/April 2013 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. Jodi almost always favors strong, juicy colors; imagine how these papers would look with more muted tones, pastels, or metallics.

Printing papers
By Jodi Ohl

1. Set up your workspace. My work surface was about three times the size of the gel plate.

2. Mix a small amount of paint with the Golden® Open Medium  on the palette.

3. Place the gel plate on the work surface, add a small amount of the paint mixture to the plate, and roll the paint out with the brayer so it covers the entire surface of the plate. If you like, use the brayer to mix in another color. There are many ways to create prints so use this time to discover what works best for you.

4. Lay a stencil(s), sequin waste, string, or other item on the plate (Figure 1 and 2) and place a piece of drawing paper over it. Rub your hands over the surface of the paper without moving the paper to make the print.

gelatin monoprinting
Jodi lays the groundwork for her
textured monoprints.

5. Lift the paper to reveal the print. Remove the stencil(s) and you should have enough paint to do another print with the paint that remains on the plate.

Tip: When you change paint colors or want to change the designs, wipe down the plate and the brayer with a soft wet cloth with a tiny bit of soap.

6. Continue to layer the papers with additional colors and prints/designs until you have a composition that is pleasing. Note: If you use paper that is larger than the plate and you want the entire page full of color, you can always paint the edges later or add prints to the edges.

Spend an hour or so making these monprints and you'll have plenty of backgrounds and pages to cut up for collage work.

I've had a sneak peek at the articles to appear in the next few issues of Cloth Paper Scissors, and can assure you that there will be printing, monoprinting, and stamping techniques (along with many others) you will not want to miss. If you're not already a subscriber--or you have a friend who would benefit from the inspiration and techniques in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine--now is the time to sign up.

P.S. Have you done gelatin monoprinting? Did you make your own gelatin plate or use one from Gelli Arts? Which do you prefer and why? Leave a comment below.

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Tesuque wrote
on 23 Sep 2013 8:28 AM

I monoprint fabric, and use both gelatin and Gelli plates. There are times when I prefer the pits and cracks that develop in the gelatin plate with prolonged use, and even mishandle the gelatin plate to create them.

JT4784 wrote
on 23 Sep 2013 11:08 AM

I love my Gelli plate!  It has opened up new worlds of possibility.  Endless variation.  

Georginaz wrote
on 28 Sep 2013 7:07 AM

Used both, much prefer Gelli Plates both for reasons of storage and results!

Georginaz wrote
on 28 Sep 2013 7:07 AM

Used both, much prefer Gelli Plates both for reasons of storage and results!

on 28 Sep 2013 7:42 AM

Using a hand made gelatin plate provided me with wonderful texture as it cracked and broke and spread out with time and use. I could never have gotten that texture from the perfect gellie plate. BUT using the gellie plate provided a consistent and EASY way to manipulate the paints and stencils that I could not do with the hand made plate. My experience was wonderful with both - taking the best they had to offer and building my "stash" of monoprints. So glad I did both and especially glad I began with the home made one since I wouldn't have bothered if I had bought the gelli plate first. Biggest problem is using the prints.

JMKN wrote
on 28 Sep 2013 9:08 AM

what is golden open med???

Mizrae13 wrote
on 28 Sep 2013 9:17 AM

I LOVE monoprinting with both the Gelli Arts plate and homemade gelatin plates.  More recently I tried a permanent home made plate, which is a mixture of gelatin and glycerine.  Look up "permanent gelatin printing plate" on YouTube.  It enabled me to make a bigger plate, and it can be remelted and repoured into different shapes and sizes.  

NancyH@90 wrote
on 28 Sep 2013 9:20 AM

Like others who have posted here, I love both my large Gelli plate and making and using my own gelatin plates. I love the Gelli's ease of use and clean up, and since getting mine, I find I do use it more frequently than I do a hand-made plate.  

Using real gelatin plates is more trouble and more expensive (even when I buy powdered gelatin in bulk--search Amazon). but it's freeing in its own way. I use up every portion of a gelatin plate and, as it begins to wear out, I mistreat it with interesting results, cutting into it with razor blade, melting parts of it with a heat gun, and on one occasion accidentally freezing and then thawing it and then printing on the strange granular surface (floatingink.wordpress.com/.../look-at-me-making-art).

Bottom line, I love both my monoprint media, and would not give either of them up!

---nan wrote
on 28 Sep 2013 9:42 AM

I've done some gelatin printing but have never purchased the plates as they seem outrageously expensive and are so limited on available sizes. The gelatin is quick to make. I buy it in bulk so the cost is very low. The trays and molds I most commonly use are the large glass trays that are from inside microwaves and I can often buy them for a dollar or two at goodwill. I've also used burner covers for round molds and have achieved some awesome moon effects from those! I like the option of doing shapes without having to fiddle with a masking stencil, and as others stated, the character that develops when printing with gelatin is a major part of the attraction.

Me-Bear wrote
on 28 Sep 2013 4:55 PM

I recently bought a Gelli Arts plate and I LOVE it! Have made quite a stash of prints already. I use 120 grams printing paper and that works perfect for me. I can recommand this technique to everyone. It's great fun and very addictive :D