Post by Jamie Hand
Do you remember the Lay’s potato chip commercial, “you can’t eat just one”? Well, with gelatin printmaking, I bet you can’t make just one print.
Gelatin printmaking is a form of monoprinting, meaning each print you pull is unique. No two prints are the same. The emphasis is on the process of creating and experimenting rather than the final outcome.
I am warning you now, if you haven’t tried gelatin printmaking yet, it is addicting!
To start, you need a gelatin printing plate. You can make your own or you can purchase one at your local craft store or online.
Making your own gelatin printing plate may sound intimidating but it is quite simple to make. If you can make jello, you can make a gelatin plate.
How to Make a Gelatin Printing Plate
Note :: It is possible to make a gelatin plate without using glycerin. However, the gelatin plate will not last more than a day or two without the glycerin. I used glycerin and have been printing with it for over two weeks with no refrigeration needed.
First, decide what size pan you wish to use. Be sure to select a container that has a smooth bottom. We used a glass 9 x 13 inch dish.
Once you have selected your pan, measure how many cups of water it takes to fill it about 1 inch thick. Our pan needed 4 cups of water.
Use the following recipe ratio to figure out how much gelatin and glycerine you will need.
Recipe Ratio: 2 Tablespoons of Gelatin per 1 cup of liquid (divided between glycerin and hot water)
(One package of Knox Gelatin contains approximately 1 Tablespoon of gelatin mix).
To fill our 9 x 13 pan, I used eight packages of Knox Gelatin with 2 cups of glycerin and 2 cups of hot water.
Step 1: Pour 2 cups of glycerin in a bowl and sprinkle in 8 packages of gelatin. Stir gently.
Step 2: Add 2 cups of hot (boiling) water. Gently stir until the gelatin has dissolved.
Step 3: Slowly, pour the gelatin mixture into a pan. You can pop any bubbles that occur after pouring but don’t worry too much about the bubbles, the top of the pan will be the bottom of your printing plate.
Allow the gelatin to set for at least one hour. We left ours to sit overnight.
Once the gelatin has completely set, use a knife to loosen the gelatin around the edges of the pan and slide out the gelatin plate. We placed our gelatin plate on a cookie sheet while printing.
Here’s the video tutorial showing how to make your own gelatin plate ::
Now it’s time to do some gelatin printmaking with your new plate! Here are two easy techniques to try…
Gelatin Printing Technique #1 – Hand-Drawn Design
- Gelatin Printing Plate (use the recipe above or buy one)
- Washable Paint*
- Paint Brush
- White Paper
*Easy Clean Up Tip :: Acrylic paint is recommended for gelatin printmaking but in my experience, washable tempera paint worked just fine and made clean up much easier when printmaking with children.
Step 1: Squirt some paint onto your printing plate. Roll out the paint with the brayer.
Step 2: Use the end of a paint brush to gently draw a design in the paint.
Step 3: Place a white paper over the top of your paint and rub firmly on top of the paper.
Lift to reveal your design and pull your print.
Printmaking Tip: Be sure to rub firmly across the paper to get the best print possible. A heavy weight paper, like card stock, works well.
Here’s a video of this first gelatin printing technique ::
Gelatin Printing Technique #2 – Cut Paper Stencils
Step 1: Cut out paper shapes.
Step 2: Squirt paint onto your printing plate and roll it out with a brayer.
Step 3: Place your paper shapes on top of the paint. Place a white paper over the top of the shapes and rub firmly across it. Lift the paper to pull your print.
Here’s the video tutorial showing this second gelatin printmaking technique ::
Usually, you can pull more than one print at a time. Try placing an additional piece of paper to create a second or third print.
What I like most about gelatin printmaking is layering the different techniques on top of each other. Try layering the first and second technique on one piece of paper.
I bet you can’t make just one print!
To see more Gelatin Printmaking tips hop over to our Handmade Kids Art post, 5 Must Know Tips for Gelatin Printing with Kids
About the Author
Jamie is a Certified Art Instructor and a mother of three. Her website, Hand Made Kids Art, focuses on quick, easy and inspiring art activities to grow creative kids. It doesn’t matter if you only have 5 minutes or 20 minutes, you can find time to create art with your children.
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