I know I’m a bit late to the party, but I treated myself to a gelli plate at Christmas. I have done gelatine plate printing before, but my sessions were few and far between because of the need to plan it carefully: to buy the gelatine, wait for it to set and then make sure I did lots of printing before it went mouldy. Now I have finally bought one, I love it! I have it out all the time so I can take a few prints whenever I feel the need to get messy, make backgrounds on the train tickets etc and I love the fact that there are so many tutorials and blog posts about it online, especially Gelli Art’s own blog.
You’ve probably seen evidence of its use cropping up on various photos of train ticket art, but here are a few of the prints I’ve made from it. They’re not very polished yet but I’m still playing! Since buying the plate, it has been interesting to see how it has affected my work and especially the train ticket art because I have been making that regularly. I have noticed that I am most inspired by light and shade and the results of light such as reflections and shadows. Also that most of my best art is almost accidental: I make the background on the gelli plate and then observe what emerges once the print has dried and draw it out by highlighting it or adding outlines or details. Monoprinting, especially printing small things as part of a larger print surface (the gelli plate) is quite unpredictable and this lends itself well to this style. I pick a colour scheme or colours which I feel most drawn to at the time I’m playing with it (it feels like playing when I don’t plan anything!) and then just go with the flow. And using acrylics means that I have to work quickly, there’s no time to stop and ponder or the paint is dry before I know it! It’s unpredictability that excites me about art, the excitement of not knowing what will emerge or what that paper will look like when I peel it off the plate.
The yellow and red print above came about in an unusual way. I hit on the idea of rolling gesso on to the plate and then printing it on to the train tickets instead of painting it on. It works well, allows more of the original ticket to show through and is a lot quicker. But what I also discovered is that some of the words printed on the ticket were being transferred to the gelli plate – this print is actually on paper and it has picked up the shape of the train tickets and some of what is printed on them! I think it makes a very interesting print.