Alexandra Sheldon

Gelli Plate Printing!

Alexandra SheldonComment

Commercial Gelli plates can be bought at art stores. They run @$29 for 8”x10”. I like making them. I had to fail a couple of times but here is the recipe that seems to work well:

Vegetable Glycerin (available at Whole Foods. I bought online, one gallon for @30.00$)
Isopropyl Alcohol 91% (@3.00 for 16 oz)
Knox Gelatine Packets (@$12.00 for a box of 12 packets)

Use a double boiler  (I just put a stainless steel bowl over a pot of hot water).
Put 1.5 cups of water in double boiler
Add 1.5 cups of alcohol. 
Put heat on medium and sprinkle 18 packets of gelatine into mixture before it is heated. Stir slowly with a whisk. You will be taking care with mixing the mixture because you don’t want to mix tons of air bubbles into it. Do not dump gelatine in one big pile because it will lump up and be hard to melt. Sprinkle it in as you mix with the whisk. Mixture will begin to melt as it gets warmer. Add 1.5 cups of vegetable glycerin.
Mix slowly for about ten minutes until translucent and dissolved. Unsuccessful gelli plates can be melted down again by the way but do not do this if there is any paint on them.

Next: Pour mixture into your mould. This recipe makes one 8”x10” gelli plate. But you could do two smaller ones. The gelli plates need several hours to set up. I left them to set overnight. Take a table knife gently around the edge of one side and gently nudge the gelli away from the mould. Then hold upright and allow the gelli to slowly peel away from the entire mould. Always store a gelli plate on a plastic surface as they will absorb any surface they are on like newspaper or regular paper. These store well and will last a long time. I allow paint to build up on them. Each time I print the old dried paints come off when it is reworked making interesting surfaces.

Choosing your moulds: I went to Michaels and bought a few plastic frames for photographs, these are about $5 each). You could use a glass baking pan or even a metal baking sheet. Just remember that it isn’t great to have grooved edges or rounded ones. I wanted a simple sharp corner. 

My first batch was too soft and the gelli broke into pieces but it turns out that they were really cool to print off of. So now I think I’d like to make a whole tray of gelli and cut it into interesting shapes for printing.

We used Open Golden Acrylics for printing because they stay wet longer than regular acrylics. However, any acrylics can be printed with. There are about a hundred different ways to print with these soft gelatine plates. This week we played with printing over magazine pictures. We also cut shapes to use as stencils and used plastic stencils. 

What’s cool about this method? The prints are soft and rather beautiful, reflecting the soft skin-like material. Printing with acrylics makes great materials for collaging later.
Colours can be printed over painted papers making luscious built up surfaces of different hues and intensities. Or shapes can be explored. Negatives, positives and the interaction of the two. Find graphic simple advertisements and print the rectangle shape of the gelli plate over them for an interesting graphic effect. Print on rice papers, sewing patterns or deli papers for a great transparent collage material.