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Gelli Girls

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

This week I've been working with "The Girls" to expand my printmaking acumen. I'm combining my exploration of gelli plate printing with the instagram #100dayproject, for which I'm doing 'people paintings', and with my work for The Creative Visionary Program from Art2Life which runs from now until the end of May.

I've learned a couple of things that are worth sharing:

1. Most interestingly, I accidentally discovered that yupo paper makes great stencil material for gelli printing. It's synthetic so doesn't soak or tear. It's thin like paper and easy to cut, and tolerates quite a few layers of buildup from the printmaking.

2.Another discovery was that I really have to let the print paper sit on the gelli plate for a few minutes to get the best print. Previously I was pulling too fast. Waiting about four minutes pulls all the paint layers up off the plate.

3. I've also been trying to get my head around the stencils and quickly started using masks to preserve areas I already liked, as well as open shapes to print new sections. Once you get the hang of this you can manipulate the image like a painting. Sometimes I stick the mask right to the print with tape, so I know its placed correctly, then I take it off after.

4.I learned it doesn't take very much paint build up on the stencil to start creating a pretty broad shadow - so I either build that into my design, or use a bone opener or popsicle stick to really connect the edges through the print.

5. Also, the mixed media paper I've been using bubbles and wrinkles when it gets wet. It's OK for a level of abstraction, but I need to use a better paper. Canson's mixed media paper is what I'm using now to learn. It's not too expensive and it issatisfactory - but I'll need to investigate better papers.

6. I've discovered I can 'register pulls pretty well by putting a piece of paper the same size as the one I'm printing on under the plate and matching the corners to roll down the print. Trying to keep edges clean with tape hasn't worked as well. While it gives the nice clean margin I want, it stops the 'play' in the paper when it gets wet and causes more wrinkling than I like.

7. Lastly, this uses a LOT of paint - more than painting! There is a lot of waste. So its a good idea to use other, smaller papers to pick all the paint up - even the ghost paint under the stencils, and to use that for collage paper in other projects.

These are the paints that I have found work nicely for a good print in order of best results to less desirable results. I've tried them all and they all work with varying effects.

Golden Heavy Body

Golden Fluid

Loft Professional High Viscosoty

Pebeo High Viscosity

Winsor Newton Galleria

Liquitex Basics

Tri Art



Michael's CraftSmart brand

More tips.

I"m trying to repeat compositions with stencils, learning how to 'design' for the results I want. The failed prints actually make pretty good stencils themselves. I cut them out. They're already covered with acrylic paint so they're pretty durable for a few good runs before they, again, become too thick.

Let me know what you've learned!

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