since i've been participating in 31 days of gel printing with birgit koopsen via instagram, a few people have asked me what a gel plate is, and if they should get one. the first part is easy: the plate itself is made of semi-hardened, non-edible, gelatin, so it's a solid, re-useable surface, but it's somewhat squishy. which makes it a really good surface to apply and manipulate acrylic paint, and then print the results onto paper, fabric, canvas or... whatever.
so do you NEED one? there's really only one "pro" argument and that is: it's FUN! it's a lot of fun, it's very creative and quite addicting. you can make backgrounds, even finished compositions on a variety of surfaces. there's a huge serendipity factor which sometimes works gloriously and mysteriously in your favor and sometimes is frustrating as heck.
the cons? it's MESSY. how much of a drawback that is really depends on your own personality and maybe also on whether you have a dedicated art space or if you craft on your grandmother's beautiful and priceless chippendale dining table, lol. you will also need some very specific supplies, including a gel plate (there are several brands) --which, btw, you'll need to store FLAT in its case, to avoid damaging it. you'll also need a good hard rubber brayer, and several types of acrylic paint, including (ideally) some of the more expensive heavy body acrylics.
and finally yes, there's a learning curve. gel printing isn't hard, but it's not really like any other papercrafting technique most of us have done before. so if you do get a plate, you'll want to watch some videos, and pin some examples and follow birgit koopsen or carolyn dube or kate crane and just generally see as many examples as you possibly can.
speaking of examples, here are a few more of mine! (nice segue, eh?!)
day 9: packaging
seriously, if you're at a loss for inspiration, you could start by following birgit koopsen on the social media platform of your choice. she is such a great source of ideas and posts pics, written word AND vids. i stole some of my packgaging ideas from her, including using an empty blister pack of allergy pills and the tray thingie a set of colorful pens came in. i also used a few lids and a thread spool. and reaffirmed my love of old, lined, spiral bound notebook paper.
day 10: fabric
coincidentally, my mom had given me some old muslin hankies the day before this prompt came up. they were worn, torn, yellowed and had stains here and there. which from my standpoint made them PERFECT. but i also enjoyed printing on...
you need to maximize the contrast of your colors for them to show up well. oh and yellow or even gold paint will take on a greenish tint because of the blue dye in the denim!
day 11: paper tubes
i had planned to just stamp rings with mine, but i happened to see birgit's post and she'd used her tubes to make DIY roller stamps. alas, i don't actually love what i made this night, but that's ok, it's fun to try something this far "outside the box".
day 12: hearts
this happened to fall on a mandala monday, so i punched hearts and circles from some of my extra prints of the previous week and made a little "creation".
day 13: pigment inks
i had NO IDEA you could use inks on a gel plate. it turns out you can get some really cool effects, as well! luckily i had a couple of those ancient colorbox petal point thingies, so i could go all rainbowy!
day 14: tissue paper
it's more delicate than deli paper, but the matte finish and super-thin texture mean that gelli prints on tissue are amazing for layering! also... since it comes in BIG SHEETS you can make gi-huge-ic prints! (you know... if you like that sorta thing... which i do...)
day 15: lines
as much as i'm looooving this challenge it has kept me away from both my pens and my colorbursts for two entire weeks. i decided to see what i could do about that. i looked around online and discovered that gesso was the key to this endeavor. i liked the clear variety best because it rendered the brightest colors. i bloomed one shade at a time on my 3" round mini plate and "stamped" it thru a very geometric stencil to work in the "lines" prompt. it's a good start, but i definitely have more ideas...
i hope you've had a wonderful weekend, but if not, there's still time to sneak in a tiny bit of sunday night FUN, right?!