Gelli Printing & Mark Making

Friday 28th July 2023

Patti Dutton, who has only recently joined Frimley & Camberley Society of Arts in the last two years, has not only agreed to become the acting Honorary Secretary, but she also offered to take this evening’s member led session. She discovered how much she enjoyed Gelli printing and mark making during the Covid lockdowns. She showed us a large sketch book full of a vast variety of prints that she had made and collected together during this time.

Patti explained that Gelli printing is done with a Gelli plate that is made of silicone. These reusable plates come in different sizes. They are easy to clean with a damp cloth between prints or with soapy water at the end of a session. It is important to keep the two protection sheets on either side of the plate and keep it in its original cover to keep it moist and soft and preserve it for future use:.

Gelli Printing Materials

  • Newspaper or wipeable tablecloth to protect your work surface
  • Acrylic paints
  • Gelli Plate ( you can buy gelli pads in a variety of sizes from different manufacturers).
  • Brayer
  • Sheets of paper (a wide variety of types of paper can be used from newsprint, printed wrappers, tissue paper, rice paper)
  • All kinds of things that can add pattern or texture.
  • Stencils are particularly effective

To make a Gelli print first put a small amount of acrylic paint on the Gelli plate. Little dots of paint on the plate works well Use the brayer to spread it all over the plate. The paint should feel a bit sticky, if there is too much paint it will feel slippery and this will not print well. Next decide on the pattern to create. Patti took a piece of corrugated paper. She placed it on the paint covered plate and then chose a piece of paper and rolled all over it with the brayer, which had been cleaned by rolling the excess paint off it onto a rough piece of paper.

Patti then put a second colour on the Gelli plate repeating the same process. She matched up the corrugated black print carefully in the same position onto the plate now covered in green paint. It is important to note that what is printed first is what is seen clearly. What is printed next becomes the background.

Patti went on to demonstrate that all sorts of things can be used to create a pattern or design such as scratching with a fork, different materials like bubble wrap or by using leaves and vegetation, anything that will leave an interesting imprint. Printing onto a variety of paper also adds interest. In the example below Patti used a music score, scrapped with a fork and then made a second print with bubble wrap.

It is possible to write on the prints that are created by using marker pens. These should NEVER be permanent markers. Patti has a set of Posca marker pens. Posca PC-3M Water Based Permanent Marker Paint Pens are Fine Tip for Art & Crafts. They can be used on wood, metal, paper, canvas, cardboard, fabric and a variety of different surfaces.

Patti then invited everyone to have a go for themselves and the room erupted into a hive of activity with everyone producing a range of unique, colourful prints.

There is no question that people were keen to see what they could create with this form of interesting mark making. A few tips from Patti:

  • Remember colour theory and choose colours that work well together for best effect.
  • Thick paper does not print well. Thinner paper such as Chinese rice paper, Mulberry paper and other crafting paper works well.
  • Fine paper may tend to tear so it is a good idea to pull gently from the corner.
  • To keep the Gelli plate in good condition wash it with warm soapy water and use baby oil at the end of the session to clean it completely.

Thank you Patti Dutton for a thoroughly informative and enjoyable evening.

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