Xmas Cards on the Gel Plate

I am not going to use the ‘C’ word until December, but I noticed that a lot of people are making cards now.  I can understand if you want to sell them that one has to be prepared months in advance, but I really can’t be thinking about all of that until after Thanksgiving.

When I first moved down to Eastbourne, I used to take a lot of photographs with a nice camera.  I thought I would buy some card stock and print some of my photos and make cards.  That never happened and I still had about 150 blank cards in my cupboard.  I had used some for birthdays by cutting up some of my watercolors.  I am trying really hard (really) not to buy new things if I can make do with what I have.

A couple of months ago I went through all of the prints I made on the gel plate.  I had loads. Some came out really well and they have been put aside for matting.  I had a lot more unsatisfactory prints than I have space for so I decided to use them to make cards with my supply of card stock.  I spent a whole day just cutting up prints and making cards.  Some of my gelli prints got a makeover as I learned a trick about putting a stencil on top of very dark paint and picking up a print with an old gel print.  Only a little of the original remains.  You can see an example on the card on the right.


I managed to use up most of my card stock and had about 30 left.  Then a couple of weeks ago I wanted to do some printing but didn’t know what to print, so I decided to make some Xmas cards with the leftover card stock.  I wasn’t going to make a template, but in the end I made a tree out of cardboard, rolled some ink on the 6×6 gel plate and got cracking.  I started with greens and yellows but I preferred the reds, magenta and yellow.

I decided not to be too precious about the card making and some of them look rather primitive.  Each card is different and I also used a stencil to fill in some areas.  For some of the longer cards, I found a small stamp that says Happy C… that I could use on the white space below.  By the time I finished making the cards, the template was completely covered in paint, so when it was dry I used it to make my last card so nothing got wasted.

It looks unlikely that I will be purchasing anymore cards for a while as I now have a stash of 100+ to get through!


Landscape Monotype on the Gel Plate

There are a lot of new words I am learning in the world of printmaking.  Here is something for you:  What is the difference between a monoprint and a monotype?  A monoprint is a series of prints pulled from a collagraph, etched plate, linocut, lithograph, etc.  In fact, a print from anything that can be used over.  They are not unique, unless they are from a varied edition!  I will save that for another time.  A monotype is a one-off print and therefore unique, like a painting.  Prints pulled off of the gel plate are considered monotypes as it is not possible to replicate each print.  Lesson Over!

IMG_3857Here is one of many first layers I pulled off of the gel plate.  It took me a few pulls to work out my sky and then I printed off about 10 prints.  I was trying for something specific that didn’t quite work out and only had 5 prints left.  I left it for a day before I decided to try something else.  I used Artist’s acrylic paints with Golden open medium in Ultramarine Blue, Sap Green, Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber for the first layers.

I managed to pull off 4 decent prints from the 5 I had left, not bad going.  I used Burnt Umber and Mars Black with Golden open medium for the rest of the layers.  In the bottom print, I used some textured paper to make some marks on the plate.  The problem with printing in layers with the gel plate is making sure the registration is correct so I had a few issues with that.  I managed to correct it with the black layer, but it is not ideal.  There is a Facebook page called Top Printmaking Tips where people are really helpful and I learned about using registration tabs.  I have seen people use them for linocuts, but not the gel plate, so I will give them a go when I get some.

So, not a bad day for printing!

Printing With Collagraphs


IMG_3839This is the collagraph I made that I didn’t take to class as I had some issues with it buckling in some areas.  So I added additional glue and put a very heavy book on top to flatten everything down.  Once it was flattish (as above), I inked it with a roller in three colors and this is what I got:

I rolled out the ink onto my brayer and applied the paper, used the baren, and this is what I got for number 1.  I tried this again, but my brayer is not the right type of brayer for collagraphs and I couldn’t get a better print.  In print 2, I applied the ink with a brush and then put the paper on and rubbed.  I got a better print, but there was too much ink.  Then I took a second print, number 3, and got a better print.  Not being happy with any of these prints (although my tutor thinks they are ok), I rolled out the ink on my gel plate, pressed the collagraph into that and got these:


These are not good, but you can see where I was going with the ink.  So I stuck my inky collagraph into a plastic bag and took it to class.  I showed it and the prints to my tutor and he took it straight to the printing press and pulled off two really nice prints that are drying on the racks.  I will have to show them to you next week.  Because I was really frustrated with my collagraph, I printed some more circles on the gel plate.

The blue ink really does not like my gel plate, but it does give a nice watery effect that I played around with, without any real success.  I’m determined not to let it beat me.

In any event, Printing Class 3 was very interesting as we applied yellow over the prints we printed in red last week.

We took one of our prints and cut masks from it with the idea being that whatever got printed yellow will become green when we put the final color blue on top.  We also experimented with putting newsprint masks over areas we wanted to keep red or make purple.  We made about six prints of each collagraph in red, so we had plenty to work with and try different things.

Some days one has to let go of trying to make a great print and just go with the process and see what you can learn from it.