*Excerpt from Gelli Plate Printing by Joan Bess
Intaglio (pronounced in-TAL-ee-oh) prints are created from an etched plate that’s been inked and wiped so that all that remains is the ink in the incised areas. An inked plate is covered with printing paper and put through a press, which pushes the paper into the grooves to transfer the ink, creating the print. The Gelli print adaptation is inspired by intaglio printing and does not use a press.
Gelli plate and brayer
paper for printing
Step 1: Cut a styrofoam plate to size [6″ × 6″ (15cm × 15cm)]. Etch an interesting design with the tip of a ballpoint pen. Fold duct tape over the edges of the plate to give you an area for easy handling.
Step 2: Apply a generous amount of paint to the plate and push it into the inscribed lines with a scraper.
Step 3: Take a relief print of the foam plate to remove excess surface paint, then gently wipe the plate with clean scrap paper to remove any remaining paint from the relief surface. Be careful not to wipe off the paint in the inscribed lines.
Step 4: Working quickly, flip the foam plate onto the Gelli plate, paint-side down. Roll a clean brayer over the back of the foam plate to transfer paint from the inscribed lines onto the Gelli plate.
Step 5: Remove the foam plate before pulling the print. The final print will be right-reading. If you inscribe words, they’ll appear in your print as they’re written. These make great prints to work back into because the lines provide a framework for adding hand-coloring and collage.
Step 6: Cover the Gelli plate with printing paper and pull the print. Styrofoam plates are quite durable, so your image can be printed again and again. Try printing an intaglio-inspired layer over a previous Gelli print to add the interesting design element of lines.
Step 7: The original black line print is perfect for hand-coloring and collage embellishment. I used Distress Stains by Ranger and other watercolor paints to fill in the different sections. Additional marks were added with colored pencils, paint markers and rubber stamps. Paper collage elements were glued onto the print.
Since the original styrofoam inscribed plate can produce many prints, it’s fun to create a series from the same line print, adding different colors, collage elements and if appropriate to the image, changing its orientation. In fact, the line print can be any color too! The possibilities are endless!
Several years ago, Joan Bess discovered the joy of monoprinting on gelatin—leading to her quest for a permanent gel plate and a more convenient monoprinting experience. She is cofounder of Gelli Arts, LLC, and inventor of the concept for the Gelli Plate. Joan lives with her husband, John, in the historic town of Mendham, New Jersey.
Learn more about Gelli Arts and the Gelli Plate at their website, GelliArts.com.