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If you can make jello you can make a gel printing plate

“The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched
the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”
Ray Bradbury

Pulling up a print from the surface of the jello gel plate.

The surface after the page is lifted... some paint and shapes remain. 

made the following pages with golden heavy body acrylics


 I love to paint with a brayer, and have created a lot of cool abstract bits for art journal pages. Brayers apply paint in a wide stripe, depending on the width of the brayer. Using a brayer on uneven surface leads to some interesting effects. A lot of folks are talking about Gelli Plates; they look cool, but I'd want the largest plate and that would be fairly expensive for something I might not use much after the initial excitement. While reading Issue #3 of FEATURING Magazine I stumbled upon a tip to make your own from an article about artist Linda Germain. So I made my own plate and played and experimented to see what I could create.


Two of the MANY options for COLOR, the key component to all of this printing stuff. 

  • Speedball Water-Based Block Printing Inks. {the tubes in the photo} There are pros & cons to these inks. They stain your fingers but the stain does come off after a bit of scrubbing. You can wear thin gloves if you wish. The magenta and yellow are gorgeous. The dark green, not so yummy. The inks stay wet longer and are fairly inexpensive. My inks lasted about 3 years before separating in the tube. Prints made with these inks {which act like acrylics} have a matte feel.
  • Golden Heavy Body Acrylics. Significantly more intense & saturated color. Does not stain the fingers and will scrub off. More colors available. Totally mixable. Prints made with these paints have a ever-so-slightly glossy feel.


How to make a gel printing plate? Make jello. Yes. That's it. 


Mix 8 packets of unflavored jello + 4 cups boiling water in a bowl. Gently mix for a few minutes until jello dissolves. Pour into shallow baking pan with edges {like a gelly roll pan} and put container in fridge for 2-3 hours, or until cold. Simply make double strength jello (use 1/2 the water that is recommended on the box}. I made my printing plate in a baking pan and the day after I photographed the plate, above, I took it OUT of the baking pan and it was much easier to access the edges. After working with it twice, I dropped it on the floor of the kitchen and it broke apart.

You can microwave the plate if it falls apart and place it back in a baking sheet to harden again. The reality is this. If you microwave it along with the bits of paint remaining on the plate and I don't know if the fumes of the paints are dangerous. It's pretty gloppy at that point and I prefer a flat, fresh printing plate so I just make a new plate.

My older daughter (13) thought the whole process of printing on jello was ultra cool. The gelatin printing plate should be kept in the refrigerator and will keep for about a month. 

How to make prints with a gel plate?

  1. Roll out paint onto the printing plate with a brayer. I find that the plate works best when it is cold and moist right out of the fridge. 
  2. Add some little cut-out cardstock shapes to the plate. These will "mask" the area and the covered shape will not print onto your paper. You can also use thread, fern or pine leaves. 
  3. Place a sheet of cardstock or bristol paper on top of the plate.
  4. Press gently with the palms of your hands or roll a dry brayer on the back of the paper to get an imprint.
  5. Delicately lift the cardstock and check out your print!
  6. You can print a second time, and the print will be much lighter.
  7. Carefully remove the little pieces of cardstock, threads, petals... whatever you used to mask shapes.
  8. Before you roll out any more paint, place a new sheet of cardstock or a page you've already printed and make another imprint. Those echoes of the remaining shapes create a different type of print. A rumour of the image. {Linda calls this the ghost}.
  9. When you want to change colors, clean your brayer with warm soap and water. Dry the brayer. This keeps paint from building up and keeps the brayer dry so that paint/ink adheres.
  10. Keep printing until a) you run out of paper, b) you run out of time.
  11. Wasn't that a blast!?

More details and gelatin print-making galore ☞ Gelatin + Acrylic Printing Therapy

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Reader Comments (13)

I love this so much! I've seen so many things having to do with gel plates as of late, and, even though I knew that you could make your own plate, I've never actually seen any prints done on one. These are beautiful! And so inspiring!

02.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJordan Hill


02.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLori

You know that I added that to my grocery list this week! Thank you!

02.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

I have the medium-sized Gelli Plate and I really like it. I had some bad experiences with gelatin printing in a class (like the total destruction of one of them when I tried to print on it). I just don't have the patience for something like that!

You might want to try the Liquitex Basics paints. They're inexpensive and they work very well on the Gelli Plate. At either Michael's or AC Moore, you can get a set of s/thing like 36 sample-sized tubes, using your 40% coupon!

Now, I'm off to find some string...

02.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSandra L.

So super excited about this! Thanks so much for sharing Tammy. I've been eyeing everyone's gelli art lately but having one shipped up to Victoria? I haven't even allowed myself to look. You're the best!

I make my own gelliplates too and I LOVE IT! I was thinking why did you leave the plate in the pan but then I saw you took it out after all. If you store it in the fridge, it will last a Month. Oh, and do you know that instead of throwing the plate away you can re-boil (melt) it and make a new plate using the 'old stuff??' Recycle your plate? Yep! (do this after approximately 4 weeks - if you wait longer the gelatin plate will get slimy and not re-usable anymore)

02.7.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarit

This is great. Thank you!!!

02.7.2013 | Unregistered CommenterM

great page

02.8.2013 | Unregistered Commentercarol

thank you for writing about this and thanks for the added tips Marit!! Going to sooooooo try this sometime this week!!!

02.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjennifer

What a truly genius idea! I just ordered a printing plate! Figures o(. Thanks for including all the steps! Your prints look amazing!

02.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

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