Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gelli printing series #1 guest post by Tami Sturm Howse

Hi all, I have been slacking here, but I got this great idea to do a series of guest posts with artists who are great at Gelli printing. This new-ish technique has taken the mixed media art world by storm. If you don't know what gelatin printing is, check out this link.  There are many tutorials on YouTube as well, for beginners and experts.  Gelli plates can be purchased on Amazon and other art supply online shops.  You can also make your own plate.  There are many tutorials on how to make one on YouTube.

Let me introduce mixed media artist Tami Sturm Howse.  I met her on the Gelatin Printing Enthusiasts on Facebook.  I asked her a few questions and this is her guest post.  Also, please check out her blog and etsy shop for more pictures.  Links are at the end of the post.

1. How did you get started with Gelli printing and what did you use to do before you got into those?

“Tami, this looks like a craft store exploded”, said a friend when she saw my craft room.

I started out as a scrapbooker years ago, but realized that nobody in my family ever really looked at my scrapbooks. I then became interested in mixed media. I loved that I could use all of my “stuff”, which was becoming quite plentiful.

Being a true crafter, when I first saw the Gelli Plate, I wanted it, whether I needed it or not. However, I wasn’t willing to spend the money until I knew I’d like it. So, I went online and found a way to make my own. After I played with the homemade one, I decided I didn’t want to have to run to the refrigerator every time I wanted to use it (I wasn’t aware of the “permanent” homemade version yet). So I bought the 8x10 plate.

2.  Was it hard to learn how to make the prints?  What is a good beginner's guide, if any?  It wasn’t hard at all to learn. I watched several YouTube videos (Carolyn Dube was a favorite) and just got started. The cool thing about Gelli printing is that if you don’t like the print, you can just paint over it. For the beginner, I would say that if you make a print that you absolutely love, don’t change it. Also, ALWAYS scan your prints if you have a scanner. That way, you can digitally immortalize them, and you don’t have to be timid about cutting them up and using them.

3.  How have the prints evolved?  Since I’m a mixed media nut, I’ve been incorporating my stencil designs, hand-carved stamp images, embossing, molding paste, and hand-painting. I love that they can be changed up.

4.  What tools do you use to make a variety of prints?  Bottoms of shoes and flip flops. I once saw the bottom of my adult daughter’s shoes and exclaimed, “Don’t throw those out when you’re done with them. I want to use the pattern on the bottom.” She rolled her eyes. I also love to use bubble wrap (of course), stamps, my stencil masks, leaves, the bottoms of fruit trays (don’t blame me if you start eyeing them up in the produce section), and on and on. I’m always seeing texture tools throughout my house.

5.  How do you use the prints?  What do you suggest to beginners (as far as using the prints in other media?)  I love using the prints as a collage base for my mixed media canvases. They’re great to use on journals, candles (see my blog), cards, envelopes, and decoupage (think “funky”). Anywhere you use paper, you can use your Gelli prints. Sometimes I like to use a “theme” of color, depending on the project I’m doing. I’ve been known to decoupage onto furniture, cigar boxes, old cabinet doors as a base for an assemblage piece, and my husband.

Well, I’m joking about the husband, but I think sometimes he’s afraid if he stands still, he’ll be “Gellied”.

6.  Tips and tricks in general.  Anything special to know about Gelli plates?  Anything you wished you had known when you started? Make sure to store your Gelli Plate in a climate controlled environment e.g. NOT in a hot car and NOT in a freezer. Also, don’t use a glossy paper on the plate (like photo paper or glossy magazine pages) Other than that, they’re pretty sturdy little buggers. When looking through magazines, keep your eye out for images that you can cut out to use as masks, which can be really fun. When using texture tools, make sure you’re not using anything sharp, or you’ll have a permanent “texture dent” or “texture rip” on the rest of your prints. Remember that often “mistakes” are just new techniques. At least that’s what I always say.

And, if you’re anything like me, your crafting area is a disaster. All. The. Time. So, when you sit down to do Gelli printing, make sure you’ve cleared enough space for drying prints, or else you will end up having to use all of your bathrooms and your bedroom floor, which I’ve never done.

If you’re interested in some of my original stencil and mask designs, please feel free to visit my Etsy shop at

And, if you’d like to see some Gelli techniques as well as my other craft adventures, please visit

Thanks for reading! Fondly, Tami

I LOVE what she has made with the Gelli prints!  I wish these give you some inspiration to expand your own prints.  There is no end to the versatility of the Gelli printing plate.  Thank you, Tami. :) 

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