Friday, April 22, 2016

Making Collage Papers With a Gelli Plate

Every now and then it's good for an artist to take a workshop. A workshop can introduce artists to new techniques, expand their knowledge of the medium they use, and connects them with others in the arts community.

I've had the good fortune to study with Bob Burridge and Carrie Burns Brown in workshops consisting of five solid days of immersion in abstract painting (Burridge) and in collage (Burns-Brown). Both were remarkable experiences that benefited me in countless ways. So when another of my favorite artists, Jane Davies, announced an online collage workshop on monoprinting with a popular new tool called a Gelli Plate, I jumped at the chance to enroll.

Single color collage papers made using a gelatin plate, stamps, stencils and various household items in Jane Davies' online workshop.   ©2016 Lynn Edwards
 Monoprinting is the act of creating a single print by pressing a sheet of paper onto a "plate" onto which paint or ink has been applied, then carefully lifting or "pulling" the sheet of paper away to reveal the resulting image. Plates can be made from a variety of materials, including glass and gelatin. For Jane's workshop, I'm using a commercially made plate called a Gelli Plate that, unlike home made versions, is very sturdy and does not break down or disintegrate over time.

If you've never experimented with monoprinting on a gelatin plate, you owe it to yourself to give it a try, particularly if you're into collage and making your own papers. With it you can make papers that are uniquely yours, in endless color combinations featuring designs of your own creation, until the cows come home. For a collage artist, it's Nirvana!

The photo above shows some of the papers I made in my first effort. I quickly learned that the Gelli Plate seems to require a breaking-in period; at first, the paint coverage seemed spotty and there were odd shadowy shapes of unexplained origin on the initial prints. But now that I've made well over 75 monoprints with my Gelli Plate, it has seemed to settle down and my monoprints now have a much smoother, more pleasing appearance.

What makes this cool little tool so much fun to use? The results you get are totally unpredictable. You may think you know what something is going to turn out like, but with Gelli Plate printing, it's just one surprise after another. Often, what emerges is so much more visually interesting than what you anticipated.

For example, I discovered that a technique Jane shared with us to remove dried paint from the plate resulted in a very exciting looking design when I substituted a piece of colored card stock for plain white drawing paper. This then led to the discovery that I could get yet another whole different look by pressing some of my older, textured and painted papers onto the wet plate. I'll share  these with you in my next post, just as soon as I can get them photographed. Meanwhile, here's a sampling of some very basic, two color papers I made in the workshop. Stay tuned, there are far more exciting papers yet to come!

Papers made by layering one color over another color. The surface designs were made using combs, stencils, notched scrapers, foam stamps and other tools. © 2016 Lynn Edwards

 Text and images ©2016 Lynn Edwards


  1. Omigosh, Lynn, this looks like so much fun! Reminds me a little of the paste papers I used to make. I need to find me one of these Gelli plates!

  2. It's so much fun it borders on addiction! Gelli Plates are available in a wide range of sizes. They can be ordered on line and some art supply stores carry them as well. Recently I heard that Hobby Lobby now carries them, too. Have fun!!!