Q: What kinds of paints/inks can I use on my Gelli plate?
A: We recommend acrylic paints. Everyone seems to have their favorite brands, so experiment with yours! Liquitex Basics are an excellent paint for monoprinting on the Gelli plate. Inexpensive craft paints are another option, but you have to work pretty fast. You can slow the drying time by adding a retarder, acrylic glaze medium or Golden Open Medium to any acrylic paints. Golden Open Acrylics are perfect if you want to use highly pigmented paint with a longer workable time.
Q: Can I use printmaking inks on my Gelli plate?
A: Yes. We recommend water-soluble printmaking inks, such as Speedball Block Printing Inks, Daniel Smith Water-Soluble Inks, and Akua inks.
Q: Can I use oil-based inks and paints?
A: Oil-based paints and inks can be used, but it's best if they don't sit on the plate for long. The Gelli plate is made with a non-toxic mineral oil, and the oils in paint or ink can soften the plate if left there too long.
Q: Can I use dyes and rubber stamp inks?
A: Dyes and stamp inks may stain the Gelli plate, but that will not affect the performance of your Gelli plate.
Q: Can I use fabric paints?
A: Yes. Some of our favorite fabric paints include Jacquard's Lumiere Metallics, Neopaque Opaques and Textile Colors, Versatex Printing Ink, and Speedball Fabric Opaque Screenprinting Ink. You can also add Golden's GAC 900 Medium to any acrylic paint to make it a heat-set fabric paint. Silk paints, such as Setacolor or Dye-Na-Flow, have a very watery viscosity and will bead up on the plate.
Q: Can I use watercolors?
A: Watercolor paints are not ideal for monoprinting, as their thin viscosity will bead up on the Gelli plate. However, we have seen Gelli prints done with watercolor with beautiful results. Gouache may be easier to work with. We suggest experimenting if you wish to use watercolors.
Q: What papers are good for Gelli printing?
A: There are so many papers that are great for Gelli printing! Anything from computer paper to card stock to printmaking paper. We recommend starting out with regular computer paper, as you get used to Gelli printing. You'll use a lot of paper! We love Staples #110 Cardstock for an economical heavy paper. Bristol is another great choice. Rives BFK or Rising Stonehenge are excellent printmaking papers for fine prints. For collage, we love using deli paper (dry waxed paper) for it's thin, translucent properties. Paper is such an individual preference, and your end purpose will be a factor in your paper choice. A smooth-surfaced paper gives a more detailed print.
Q: Do I need to mist or soak my printing papers?
A: No. Monoprinting on a Gelli plate is best using dry paper.
Q: Are there any papers that should NOT be used?
A: Yes! We have learned that glossy coated paper stock is not compatible with the Gelli plate. It can immediately stick to the plate and not come off without damaging the plate's surface. DO NOT use any glossy papers (including glossy photo papers).
Q: Can I monoprint on fabric?
A: Yes. Gelli printing is perfect for monoprinting on fabric. Tight-weave fabrics, such as PFD cotton and muslin, give great results.
Q: My acrylic paints are drying too fast on the plate. What can I do?
A: There can be a slight learning curve to find what paints work best and how much to use. If your paints are drying too fast, you can try using a slightly heavier paint application. Another good option is to add some retarder or acrylic glaze medium to your paint to slow down the drying time. Spraying the plate with water does not usually help.
Q: My paint is beading up and repelling on my plate. What should I do?
A: The gel plate is made with a non-toxic mineral oil. At times, the plate may have a thin film of oil that slightly repels water-based paints. Washing the plate with a dish soap, such as Dawn, will help alleviate this situation. As the plate gets used, the paint should roll out smoothly. Another situation that can cause paint to bead up is when the paint is too watery. Using thicker paint may give a more desirable result.
Q: My prints are sticking to the Gelli plate. Any suggestions?
A: Usually, when prints are sticking to the plate, there's too little paint coating the plate. You may also experience this if the paint is drying on the plate. Using a bit more paint may help. If the surface of the plate feels tacky, it's best to wash it with a dish detergent, such as Dawn, and pat dry — then continue printing.
Q: Do I need to wipe or wash my plate between prints?
A: No. In fact, some of the happiest surprises occur when paint from previous prints show up on subsequent prints. However, if you want to start a fresh print with a clean plate, simply spritz with water and wipe with a paper towel. Baby wipes work well, and gel hand sanitizer also cleans the plate easily.
Q: Can I place a reference picture under the Gelli plate while printing?
A: It is important to create a barrier between your reference picture and the Gelli plate. Place your Gelli plate on a piece of mylar, or acetate, or Plexiglass, or glass first. Then place that over your picture. Do not place your Gelli plate directly onto a photograph.
Q: Is Gelli monoprinting a good activity for small children?
A: Gelli printing is great fun for all ages! Children should be supervised — monoprinting can be a messy process.
Q: Is the Gelli plate made from gelatin?
A: No. There is no gelatin in a Gelli plate.
Q: Do Gelli plates contain any animal products?
A: No. There are no animal products in the Gelli plate. It is completely vegetarian-friendly.
Q: Is there latex in the plate?
A: No. The Gelli plate contains NO latex. It is made with mineral oil and is a hypoallergenic polymer material.
Q: Will my Gelli plate break down over time? How long will it last?
A: With proper care, Gelli plates are extremely durable and long-lasting. We've been using our plates for several years and they are all in excellent condition.
Q: My Gelli plate surface has become matte and cloudy. Is this normal?
A: Yes. As your plate is used, it will lose its glass finish and become matte and cloudy. This is perfectly normal and does not affect performance at all.
Q: I noticed there are bubbles under the plastic sheets that cover the Gelli plate. Is that a problem?
A: It is possible for air bubbles to form between the Mylar and the gel plate surface leaving a small bubble mark. These are insignificant and do not usually present any problem in printing. If bubble marks do show up on your prints - try the following: Place your plate 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.
Q: Can I cut my Gelli plate into smaller pieces?
A: The Gelli plate can be cut with scissors. Do not try to cut it with a craft knife. The flexible, stretchy nature of the plate makes it very difficult to cut with a knife.
Q: Is it okay if paint dries on the Gelli plate?
A: Yes. Printing with fresh paint directly over dry paint may pull the dried paint off the plate, creating interesting, unpredictable prints. However, when you're finished with your printing session, we recommend cleaning your plate. Always clean the surfaces before replacing your Gelli plate in its clamshell package.
Q: How do I clean my Gelli plate after using acrylic paints?
A: The plate is very easy to clean. You can spritz it with water and wipe with a paper towel, then pat dry. Baby wipes and gel hand sanitzer are also useful for wiping the plate clean. You can also take the plate to the sink and wash with mild soap and water.
Q: How do I clean my Gelli plate after using oil-based paints?
A: Wipe the plate clean with baby oil (mineral oil), then wash with a dish soap, such as Dawn, to remove the oily residue.
Q: My plate has become stained from pigments. How can I remove the stains?
A: Wiping your plate with baby oil should remove most pigment stains. After you've cleaned the plate, you should wash it with a dish soap, such as Dawn, to remove the oily residue.
Q: How do I remove newsprint ink or pencil marks from a Gelli plate?
A: See answer directly above. Cleaning the plate for all stains is the same process.
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Q: Is the Gelli plate sensitive to heat?
A: Yes, the Gelli plate is sensitive to heat and should be kept away from all heat sources. Do not use a heat gun with the Gelli plate and do not leave it in your car when it is hot outside.