I learned about Gelli printing while watching videos on YouTube, and had to try it. I bought an 8×10 Gelli Arts monoprinting plate, and a beginner’s book to tell me more about how to use it.
Gelli Printing: Printing Without a Press on Paper and Fabric Using the Gelli Plate
By Suzanne McNeill
Title: Gelli Printing: Printing Without a Press on Paper and Fabric Using the Gelli Plate
Author: By Suzanne McNeill
Publisher: New Design Originals Corporation, an imprint of Fox Chapel Publishing
Location: for great fun in your art studio
POV: instructor, to newbie with a Gelly Arts plate, like me
Awards won: none that I know of
My Source: paperback, purchased via Amazon
Gelli Arts plates are fun to create art with. This book contains “inspiring instructions and projects” collected by or created by Suzanne McNeill, an arts instructor in Texas.
What’s in the book?
There are two sections: (1) Techniques for Gelli Printing, and (2) Projects.
There are 22 techniques in the book, from supply suggestions to stamp making ideas.
There are 31 projects included, from silk scarf printing, to simple book binding using Gelli printed papers.
Gelli monoprinting supplies
I like this Speedball 4″ brayer I bought for using with my new Gelli plate. It is made with soft rubber (they also offer a hard rubber version). It rolls just fine. I mention that because someone had problems getting their brayer to roll over acrylic paint.
The only time I had a problem with it – it was a clear case of having too much paint on the gel printing plate. Yes, you can get too much paint there – and it won’t make a good print. If you want to see why – just try it. My paper ended up with some unattractive puddle marks. Sometimes less is better! Anyhow, I do recommend this 4″ brayer, in case you need one.
The brayer picks up the colors from my gel printing paints, so at the end of a session, I scrub the brayer at the kitchen sink to get all the residual paint color off – and it comes out looking new again, every time.
Here’s a somewhat silly video I made about the day I was waiting for the delivery of my Gelli plate, brayer, the book, and some stencils.
This is the Gelli plate I bought:
I bought the 8×10 version, which cost me a little less than thirty dollars. Now, to be fair – in Suzanne’s book there are a couple of recipes for homemade gel printing plates made with gelatin. Lots of gelatin! But when I read the information that came with the Gelli Arts plate I was happy I spent the money for one of their gel printing plates because they use no animal products – and as we all know – gelatin is an animal product derived from the bones of cattle. Mmmmm… okay, I’m a bit squeamish about things like this, due to my years of vegetarianism. This might not be any issue for you… but the Gelli Art plate is probably more permanent than the gelatin plates, so long as they are cared for properly – which means storing them in the original packaging so they won’t pick up any imprints and patterns from other objects. They need to be perfectly flat to provide good prints.
There are other options besides the 8×10 Gelli plate – some larger, and some smaller. There are also some comb tools. I think the small Gelli plates would be a lot of fun for stamp-type printing, but I haven’t bought them yet because I’m still learning the skills to use my 8×10 gel plate effectively.
Well, back to talking about Suzanne McNeill’s Gelli Printing book.
Printing with a Gelli plate is an intriguing process that results in beautiful, one-of-a-kind, hand-printed papers with amazing colors, textures, and layers. The materials are commonly available and acrylic paints are easy to use. It is simple to make monoprint artwork, colorful pages for Art Journals, greeting cards, fabric for quilting, and much more. The process is so-o-o much fun and the results are amazing. There is no way to “mess up”! – Suzanne McNeill
Definitely, the book is easy to read. That said, it isn’t really meant to be read cover-to-cover. There are many brightly illustrated pages with explanations of how to achieve techniques or create Gelli printing projects. She introduces each project with a paragraph explaining the project, and/or introducing the original artist (some projects were done by her friends) then she lists the steps taken to make the project happen.
My experience of reading the book
I decided to read the entire book through before trying any of the projects. I read a few pages each evening before sleeping. Sometimes I ended up reading more than expected, because I love learning about the projects. Basically, I just read until I couldn’t read more, and it took me about 4 nights to get through. Maybe 5.
My opinion of this book
I noticed that some reviews on Amazon were unappreciative – but mainly those were from experienced Gelli plate users who had been looking for more advanced information. The fact is that this book is aimed more at beginner to intermediate level monoprinters. It suited my needs perfectly, so I gave it five stars at Amazon. You will see I left a short review there under my own name. For me, the book is full of inspiration. I don’t know if I’ll ever use all the ideas (that would be remarkable, if I did…) but I’m definitely inspired, and the book told me a few tricks of the trade that I needed to know.
About the Author
Suzanne McNeill is a workshop instructor at Sparks Studio Art in Arlington, Texas. She has written quite a few other books on a variety of arts and crafts topics. Find out more on the Suzanne McNeill page at Amazon.
This is Suzanne McNeill’s YouTube channel. There are six videos with some great art inspiration!
If you’re interested in monoprinting on gel printing plates, Suzanne’s Gelli Printing is a great book to get you started. You will learn a lot from reading it and find out how versatile the gel printing plate is as a valuable piece of art equipment.