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Gelatin Printing – Try Something New Every Month

gelli plate printing

This was my March project for ‘Try Something New Every Month’; you can see my other past projects and read more about TSNEM here. You can also see more in a fun round-up of gelatin printing inspiration and ideas here!

I had never heard of gelatin printing until Abby tweeted about it and I was intrigued. I really like seeing other people experiment with printmaking and I am brainstorming more printmaking experiments! I think gelatin printing is especially fun because it has a pretty low cost to try; I used my fancy brayer but all you really need is two boxes of gelatin (I used Knox brand).

I used a tutorial from The Sketchbook Challenge [2024 edit, their site has since been shut down] to make my gelatin plate. Apparently my fridge has a crooked shelf, because while I know the Pyrex dish I used is flat, the gelatin came out totally uneven. I had a few paper hexies sitting in front of me that Rebecca had just mailed me, so I thought I’d try those out first.

diy gelli plate

Attempt #1 was a total failure. I used printer paper, and clearly wayyyy too much paint. The hexagons were completely soaked or smooshed and at this point, I wondered why I’d tried this.

printmaking with spools

Attempt #2 went much better – I smeared the paint over the empty spots left by a few of the hexagons and tried pushing a few empty thread spools into the paint. I was using cheap white muslin so the paint leaked through, but it dried quickly.

old spool art idea

For attempt #3 I washed the plate off – and in the process accidentally tore off the thinner side. No worries, it still worked well! I put paint off to the side and stamped directly on to the plate, which gave more distinct shapes on the fabric.

gelli print fail

Attempt #4 was another mixture of too much paint and printer paper. I am thinking a thicker art paper would do better for this, in retrospect, and the hand-carved stamp I used was too shallow to leave a great imprint (I carved it for fabric stamping in this post way back when).

So! Those were my 4 first attempts. I washed off the gelatin plate and stuck in a Ziploc, we will see how long it lasts in my fridge. I let my 2 year old shred and play with the pieces that had broken off, so it was a win win.

I think this would be really fun to do with older kids after a nature walk, using found objects and making stationary. It’s hard to explain why exactly it’s different than just stamping, so I suggest you just try it! I’m really glad I did and will have it rolling around in the back of my creative toolbox. I’m not sure what or if I’ll use the fabric I printed for – so let me know if you have a brilliant idea for that and/or if you plan to try gelatin printing!

See what other bloggers tried for TSNEM this month:

gelatin plate printmaking

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Lisa // Cucicucicoo: Eco Sewing and Crafting

Tuesday 20th of June 2017

Interesting! I'd never heard of this before! :) Lisa

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Saturday 24th of June 2017

It's hard to explain but so fun, you need to try it!


Thursday 5th of March 2015

Wow, looks fun, but quite challenging to create the result you envisioned ;-) Love the colouring!

Vicky myers

Monday 2nd of March 2015

Looks like great fun, but a technique which takes practice. Not come across this type of printing before, thanks for sharing:)


Monday 2nd of March 2015

My first screen printing attempts looked something like this too. I'm sure you know from sewing experience that you'll work out the details with more practice. Thanks for sharing the process photos!


Monday 2nd of March 2015

I read about this too. I'm wondering how long the gelatin will last if kept in the fridge and brought out to be used again. :-)

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Tuesday 3rd of March 2015

I just looked at mine again and I think it's been two weeks now? Still looks brand new!

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