There are a lot of techniques and materials I love to experiment and play with. To be honest, I am one of the first persons to try something new. This holds true for new flavours of lemonade as well as new paints or clays. Not all are for me, but hey, I will only know if I tried. I need to try at least once (and you may be surprised by the results: cucumber-lime lemonade is a new favorite of mine… very unexpected!).
Some techniques and materials I realize I don’t need to incorporate into my repertoire and then there are some I always come back to. Polymer clay is one example and for some time now, monoprinting as well. I don’t even know how I could manage without it so many years!
Monoprinting is not a new technique but I think it just gained popularity and a broader audience with the introduction of polymer gel plates that you can buy in any art/craft supply store and easily use. I was asked to show a little bit more about my printing process. The principles are the same but I think everyone has different preferences and maybe also some new tips and tricks.
I took a lot…. a looooooot of pictures…. and then I thought I should divide the material into different parts otherwise it may be a little bit much. Also I can go a little bit deeper into the parts without “stuffing” too much into a single blog post.
In this “part I” I will show you how I make my own gelatin printing plates and also how printing plates differ in their properties.
1. Gelatine plate
So this is my workspace… also known as our kitchen. I have a really good advantage, I have to admit: an induction plate with temperature control. I can set 60 °C (140 °F) and don’t have to worry to overheat my gelatin. I just set the temperature (also a timer if I want to) and just let the mixture heat. If you can’t do this, don’t go away and take care that you never overheat your gelatin mixture (NEVER boil the mixture). Otherwise the protein structure will break down and the gelatin won’t create this jelly-like mass anymore. You can always use a water bath like for melting chocolate if you really want to be careful.
As soon as you add the glycerin, the temperature will drop and the gelatin will stiffen a little bit. You will still have to heat and mix it for some time. But what you can see immediately is how elastic and rubbery-like the mass becomes. I tried to capture this in the video below. This is something that gelatin can’t “do” alone 😉
I also made a short video to show you how I remove a gelatin plate of the container… so you can also see how flexible and elastic the plate is! If you ever wanted to remove a nice jelly, you may know how fragile it can be. So thanks to the added glycerin this plate is nice and stable. Also if it breaks, keep in mind, you can melt and pour it again!
Before I show you how this plate and other kind of plates work, I wanted to add the re-pouring step. I do this also to clean my gelatin plate from acrylic paint leftovers.
2. Printing plates
I will show you some different materials / plates you can use for printing. There are different companies selling the material but for printing the company and/or material is not so important but rather the properties of the plate. So my categories are stiff, medium/middle and soft:
By the way, I just won a giveaway for a really bit Gelli plate from Gelli Arts. I already had a smaller one, but I will use the big one for the first time for this blog post. It was also the reason why I made this blog post now…. I so wanted to play with it! 😉
I put some craft paper on our small balcony table and tried to fit everything on it. This may not have been my best idea due to the limited space but I wanted to be outside. The rubber stamping plate and rubber mate give comparable results so I only used the rubber stamping plate as an example for a stiff printing plate.
In general you get more paint and colour uplifted from a printing plate the softer it is. But you will get more unexpected and really interesting prints from a stiff printing plate. There is not one better than the other in general. It rather depends on what you want to do with it and for what kind of prints you look. If you want to play and experiment without a certain outcome in mind, I highly suggest to try all! It is so relaxing and satisfying (for me definitely).
As a first example here is an impression about the amount of colour you will lift from the plates. As a (partial) disclaimer. I tried to work with all plates at the same time for this first experiment. Not the best idea because it was a warm day and the paint started to dry fast.
The next pictures show you the differences if you use a stencil or something similar. The effect you want is to “simply” block areas – a classic “yes or no” situation.
Some more detailed pictures as comparison. You will get more details and paint with the soft plate and a more rough irregular look with the stiffer plate. The medium plate (Gelli plate) always works nicely in between while being more closer in the results to the soft plate (gelatin plate).
The stiffness of the plate will also change how your second print or ghost print will look.
The last comparison I want to show you is also actually the one where I personally think the results will vary the most: Printing of natural patterns like leaves, feathers, or textiles. The softer a plate is, the more fine details you may catch.
In the end all what matters is what you want to create and how to balance the strengths and weaknesses of every plate.
That was it for today. The next time I will show you more about how I print (this time I wanted to focus on the effect the stiffness of the plate has for printing) and what I create with the prints. If there is anything more you want to know from me or maybe in deeper detail, please tell me!
Thank you for joining me. If you try out different plates and materials for printing, please share your results (I am always curious)… also any kind of tips and tricks! 🙂
PS: If you are wondering, I mostly use gelatin plates as well as Gelli plates. Both are fun to use. If I am in a hurry, I rather use a Gelli plate, and if there is something I want to capture with the tiniest details, I use a gelatin plate. I can recommend both for beginners, if you just want to start and play with it. For people who want to really experiment and/or do more abstract work, please give a stiff plate a try! It can be frustrating at times but the results are so interesting!
PS: I promised in my last blog post to show you our progress on the furniture we are making for ourselves. Since the ceramic kiln at the makerspace Leipzig was not working the last weeks, we are still not finished. But I managed to repair the kiln yesterday! So hopefully I can show you our progress soon 🙂