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Easy monoprinting with Gelli Printing Plates

Easy monoprinting with Gelli Printing Plates

Gelli Printing Plates are a soft, reusable plate for transferring your work to paper with hand pressure. They are a very easy and mess-free way of making monoprints, and work especially well with Golden OPEN Acrylic.


Set up on a flat, smooth surface with your Gelli Printing Plate. Here I’ve used two pieces of Fabriano 220gsm Rosaspina cut larger than the Gelli, hinged with low-tack masking tape on either side of the plate. This will enable me to make two transfers from each layer, and keep the registration for successive layers.


A very small amount of Golden OPEN Acrylic is applied directly to the plate and spread evenly with an Essdee soft rubber roller, to provide a warm base colour to the print. As OPEN Acrylic is slow drying, it allows plenty of time for working on the Gelli and still transfers completely; and of course you have a wide range of artists’ colours to choose from!


Once the colour is applied, flap down one sheet of Rosaspina and use an Essdee baren in a circular motion to press the paper to the Gelli. Then peel that sheet away from the plate and repeat with the other sheet. The softness of the Gelli means you don’t have to press too hard, and you can even get a good print by using your hand, though a baren is more even.

The paper that was pressed first transfers more colour than the second sheet. You can follow this for each layer to create one strongly coloured and one softly coloured print, or alternate them to produce both strong and soft layers on each.



There is no need to clean the Gelli Plate between layers, as any residue transfers to the same spot. By keeping the plate in place, the hinged papers will drop back into position to transfer the next layer. If you do want to move your Gelli, just outline he corners, so you can reposition it correctly.

Paint can be applied in as many colours and detail as you wish. Keep the paint application thin – too much paint will ‘pucker’, perhaps spoiling your print. Once you have it how you want, repeat the transfer process by flapping down the paper and rubbing with your baren. The Gelli will transfer your image in incredible detail.


Stencils work well with Gelli, and cut be easily cut from drafting film – a polyester film that is washable, doesn’t wrinkle, and is thin enough to provide a good edge for the image. Stencils add a hard edge that contrasts nicely with the brush marks. Place the stencil on your Gelli, paint over the holes and lift off. You can then repeat the transfer process to add another layer to your work.

By using roller, brush, and stencil, you can quickly build an interesting vocabulary of high definition marks into a unique monoprint. Once you’ve pushed the print as far as you want, you can add to it with coloured pencil, pastel, pen and refillable markers for a really fresh image.


After using Golden OPEN Acrylic, your Gelli Printing Plate and printmaking tools wash clean under water. It is natural for the Gelli to turn matte after several uses – this does not affect the print quality. To protect the printing surface when you are storing your Gelli, cover both sides with a plain white sheet of copy paper. Be careful to smooth out the paper with your hands to ensure there are no air bubbles in between the paper and the plate. If you do get bubble marks, place bubble mark side down on a hard, flat surface (the gel printing plate contains mineral oil, so do not place the plate on a surface that may absorb mineral oil) and let it sit overnight.  The gel material conforms to the surface it is laying upon - so in the morning the bubble marks should be gone.

Gelli Printing Plates are an easy and fun way to produce monoprints, with no need for a press and a huge variety of creative approaches.


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