I will delight you here with another gelli print guest post, with Jacqueline, or Jacques, Williams, from Somerset, England. It always amazes me how much you can do with gelli plates, the variations are almost endless. Here's my interview with Jacques:
How did you get started with Gelli printing and what kind of art did you use to do before you got into Gelli plates?
I’m a mixed media artist and studied the art and science of printing in my late teens. I loved the organic feel of printing and didn’t mind getting my hands black from the various inks and paints, from screen printing, monoprinting and later using the Rotaprint machines in publishing. I was saddened when everything started to become digitalized. The print factory closed down and I retrained to secure a better future. During the summer (2014), my DH transformed our shed into a printing space for me. It was a dream come true and I loved spending the light evenings out there with my youngest daughter.
Then one day I went out there to find an unwanted resident mouse had eaten its way through several stacks of prints, so I moved my printing back inside until we could remove the mouse!
I first heard the word Gelli when I joined a creative Facebook forum almost a year ago called ‘Be Creative’. I researched it, and then invested in a Gelli plate. I found that my 8 x 8 plate was perfect for printing postcards for swapping within the Be Creative group. I first played around with just black standard acrylic paint, but found it dried out too quickly. I then opted for tubes of water color and preferred the effect the colors had on the plate and on the card stock I was using. I then discovered the Facebook group, Gelatin Printing Enthusiasts.
Was it hard to learn how to make the prints? What is a good beginner's guide, if any?
I confess, I didn’t read up on any specific techniques on making prints or how to use the plate. I made stencils back in the 80s and relied on my printing background. I still prefer to use watercolor rather than acrylic paints; I’ve invested in some Open Acrylics, but the box is still unopened because I like the flexibility and transparency of watercolors.
How have the prints evolved for you?
To start with, I just practiced making prints using what I had available from the garden: leaves, petals, flowers, nails, and feathers. I didn’t embellish them or draw on the tops of the prints. Later I began experimenting with lino on the plate, ghost prints, and then printing on fabrics such as silk and calico. My favorite prints have included tree silhouettes, exotic birds and the outlines of buildings against a backdrop of textures.
What tools do you use to make a variety of prints?
I picked up some textured brayers at a boot sale (yard sale) – one is covered with oak leaves. I’ve also used the bottoms of fizzy soda bottles (petal shapes), various lids, the orange mesh used for holding oranges, pen caps, upturned cups, the corrugated innards from chocolate boxes, cutlery and rusty nails, string, lino cuts, and handmade rubber stamps.
How do you use the prints? What do you suggest to beginners (as far as using the prints in other media?)
I’ve used the prints for collage, mini notebooks, making price tags for a craft sale, pictures for frames, greeting cards, and postcards. I’ve printed straight on fabric, tote bags, and silk ties. I will be rolling some sheets of my spare stock to create pen pot holders and beads.
Tips and tricks in general. Anything special to know about Gelli plates? Anything you wished you had known when you started?
The cost of the plate isn’t cheap. However, I think that the enjoyment I’ve got out of using it and because it’s so versatile and adaptable to a range of printing surfaces makes it worth the expense. Before investing in one, I’d recommend that you think about what sizes you like working with best. One day I would like to buy a large plate, but for now I’m happy creating textured backgrounds for my journal pages, and I can move the smaller plate around on larger surfaces to build up the layers. Gelli plates pick up so many textures. Hunt around the house and you’ll find yourself digging in drawers and cupboards to find items with texture. You can also look at objects in DIY stores that you may not have considered before. Sometimes you can salvage cartons and containers from the trash just to try a different texture. Also, try cutting an apple in half and putting that down on the Gelli, or a pepper, but bear in mind that fruit adds moisture to the paint or ink you’ll be using! Most importantly, experiment and have fun! Having fun is what it is all about.
Thank you, Jacques, for this lovely post. Again, I'm amazed at the variety of prints that can be made with gelli plates. These are so much fun, and I love the Nature inspired motifs.
Jacques' clickable links: