Friday, May 27, 2011

Gelatin Plate Printing Tutorial

Gelatin Plate monoprinting

Leslie here. In preparation for filming a surface design workshop dvd for Interweave I needed to create samples of the various techniques I would be demonstrating on-camera.  One of my workshop segments is showing how one tool can be used in a variety of ways.  The following images are using using a gelatin plate to create monoprints, and the same tool is subsequently used as a stamp. 
The great thing about using a gelatin plate is that it can provide countless ways to incorporate more texture on the surface of cloth or paper.
Over time, the gelatin plate will begin to degrade.  Even in this state
the plate has some unique qualities to offer!  It can be wiped clean and repeatedly used, even refrigerated between uses for a week or so before it is discarded.
With many mark-making tools, it is possible to achieve both a postive and negative image.  This is where the gelatin plate comes in....

 Recipe to create a 9x12 gelatin plate:
6 tablespoons gelatin powder
1.5 cups cold water
1.5 cups hot water (almost boiling)

In a pan, place the cold water and add the gelatin.  Mix until it is well-blended with water.  At this point it will be very thick.  Gradually add the hot water and continue stirring until the gelatin is dissolved.  Try to remove any bubbles on the surface.
Place in a refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.  The gelatin sets up quickly.
Carefully remove from the pan.  If you have a disposable pan, such as the one in the image, you will need to avoid working on the bottom side of the gelatin because it will pick up the marks of the pan.

I placed the gelatin plate on a plastic surface, but any 
protected surface will do

purchased stamps, handmade stamps, or 
other found objects make great marks on the plate!

Acrylic textile paint (slate blue and white) poured onto 
a paper palette

Using a foam brush, I will begin with the white

I plan to use a piece of hand-dyed silk organza for this first print

After spreading the paint thinly onto the gelatin surface with the foam brush, I am pressing a portion of my eraser stamps into the paint, wiggling it very slightly to displace the paint a bit, creating distinct "openings" through the paint to the gelatin surface

I'm using another stamp through the center just for fun
the organza is gently placed on the gelatin surface, center to edge,
and smoothed into place with my hands.
Since this is a sheer, the paint will come all the way through, so it is 
important to handle with care.

in this image, the organza is being lifted from the print surface.
You can see my studio cabinet in the background!

here is the organza as it appears with paper in the background.
Think how cool this could be layered over another piece of cloth or paper!
I could also use a much darker paint, possibly a dark purple,
and using the same stamp over this monoprint, create the "positive" mark.

Here is another commercial stamp, pressed into a blend 
of slate blue and white paint

I'm using a hand-carved eraser stamp in the center

The cloth (a piece of white cotton that had been previously (badly!) 
printed with dye.
As with the organza, I placed the cloth down, center to edge,
on the plate and smoothed it with my hand to pick up the paint

lifting the cloth from the gelatin plate surface

Here is the cloth!
Here is a new stamp I recently ordered from Coloricious

Again, the plate was thinly covered with a combination of 
slate blue and white paint.
Any type of acrylic paint will work really well.

Once the marks are made, I will place my cloth on the surface.

pat it gently, then smooth to pick up the marks without smearing

and "peel" the cloth back from the plate surface.
I love the way this looks!
Now my ugly duckling cloth has some potential!

The possibilities are endless with any type of cloth or paper.

Below are more experiments:

bok choy leaf

used as a stamp (left) and monoprint (right)
printed on cotton broadcloth

bottle lid (left) as stamp and monoprint, gum packaging (right) as gelatin monoprint
printed on cotton broadcloth

what do you think this is?

hand-carved stamps on old book pages
(gelatin monoprint)

Hand-carved eraser stamps used first on the gelatin plate as a monoprint, then as stamp (printed on paper).


  1. this sounds intriguing but, i dont understand how you got from gelatin in the fridge to using it as a stamp... :*(

  2. I agree with Shari. How do you use the gelatine? Do you dip the leaf into the gelatine? Intriguing!

  3. I am intrigued too....but you left out the rest of the process??? Would love to know the details. Thanks.

  4. I love this - it is amazing - and creative :-)

  5. You are so right: I need some "between photos". I'll add more images and steps to this post. My apologies to leaving you dangling!

  6. awesome .. I like your work ..But how you make the use of gelatine plate ?? I have the Same question as its really a conflicting point for me as well me please a little more. could you please?

  7. More images added! I hope the additional step-outs help!

  8. wow- great tutorial and great results! Thanks very much for posting this. My mom and I will probably try this on the weekend.

  9. love love love!! thanks for the inspiration Leslie!

  10. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial. I hadn't thought of using stamps on my gelatin plates.....and that Bok Choy leaf is amazing! I'm guessing that the 'mystery' one is a cookie cutter.


  11. So clever and now it makes so much sense - love it.

  12. Love it...can hardly wait to try this. I've been working with printed images that are almost there, traces, ghosts of images, and this will work into my process, thank you for sharing

  13. THANK YOU so much for this! I can't wait to try it! And will check back for your in-between photos. Though I'm willing to try with the photos given.

  14. How cool!! Thanks a lot for sharing!! :-)

  15. This is just so descriptive and your work is great! Thanks.

  16. To see how to use this search youtube for "Gelli printing" or "Gelli Plate" as this looks like a "DIY" of gelli plate product. Wish I saw this post before I shelled out around 40 bucks for 2 large gelli plates from the blick art store. Love this

  17. Hi Leslie - I have linked to your wonderful tutorial on making a gelatin plate from my blog about sewing fabric postcards. Many thanks for all the inspiration! ShereeSews


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