by Barbara Muth
Owner and artist at ArtBlitz Studios
Gel printing with the Gelli ArtsTM or Gel PressTM gel printing plates has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years.YouTube videos of gel printing abound, and everyone is doing it.We gel print for many different reasons.For many people gel printing is a way to develop backgrounds for their artwork quickly or to develop papers to use in other projects (e.g. collage papers, mixed media greeting cards, small books). All kinds of artists are working with the gel plate, from beginning artists to fine artists.It’s a wonderful fast tool for printmakers interested in creating monoprints without a press.
So what is a gel printing plate?Homemade gel printing plates are made from gelatin (recipes can be found on the Internet).The advantage to these is that they are inexpensive to make.The disadvantage is that they must be refrigerated and last just a few days. Commercially made gel printing plates are made with silicone and are virtually indestructible.I have been using mine for four years now and it works as well as it did when it was new.The gel plate is easy to use.Lay down a little paint on the plate, spread it out with a brayer, and pull a print.Or throw a stencil or masks on the plate and pull the print through the stencil or mask.Layering prints is scrumptious.In the hands of an expert like my studio mate Andrea Cybyk, the gel plate can be used to develop beautifully layered, amazing monoprinted compositions.
Why do I gel print?Aside from gel printing being a fun activity, I find that it helps me problem solve.When a painting has me stuck and I need to walk away from it for a bit, I pull out the gel plate.It keeps me working with paint, with colors and composition without getting my head involved.I lose myself in the gel printing and before I know it, my brain has been working in the background and come up with a solution to the painting’s problem.(Back in my research days I played Tetris for the same reason.) Distracting my conscious thinking makes room for the subconscious brain to work out the problem.
At ArtBlitz Studios, Andrea Cybyk and I are offering various workshops using the gel plate.They are intended to help artists of all levels learn the basics of use of the gel plate, tricks for use of some gel printing tools, unusual tools you can find in your home, backyard and the hardware store and how to compose a monoprint.
Come try us out!We provide all of the materials you need, gel plates in two sizes, plenty of paper to work on, brayers, stencils, masks and high quality artists’ fluid acrylics.And fun, lots of fun!
It is always a great idea to gather a couple of friends and take the workshop together.We even do private parties in our studio or your home! Come celebrate old and new friendships at ArtBlitz Studios while you learn new skills.