Gelatin Print Tutorial, and Giveaway Results!

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway contest, and congratulations to Terri at Time to Be Inspired (check out her blog!), the winner of the prints! I really enjoyed making them, and all the other gelatin prints I have been making lately. It’s super easy to do, and would be a great activity to do with kids. Here are some of my finished prints:

 

Here is what you’ll need to make your own:

  • Unflavored gelatin (I used 2 boxes or 8 packets of Knox brand)
  • A dish, pan or cookie sheet to form the gelatin plate in (I used the bottom of a broiler pan)
  • Printing ink (I used Speedball Block Printing Ink in Black from Hobby Lobby)
  • A brayer to spread the ink on the plate (like this one)
  • Something you want to make prints of: leaves, feathers, stencils, etc.
  • Paper, heavier paper like card-stock works well, but you can get cool effects with others like, old dictionary pages, sheet music, handmade paper etc.

To make the gelatin plate, boil 2 cups of water. While it’s boiling, dissolve the packets of gelatin into 2 cups of cool water. Combine the two cups of boiled water with the dissolved gelatin mixture. Pour the mix into your plate form, skim the top for bubbles so the surface is perfectly level. Place in the fridge, the plate should be plenty hard in a few hours, but I like to keep it in the fridge overnight. Here is my ready to use plate:

 

I didn’t have anything specific I was trying to make the first time I tried this so I had tons of stuff I wanted to try to make prints of, and tons of different types of paper. Here is my collection of stuff to try out:

To begin making prints, pour out some ink onto a paper plate or palette or whatever you got. Spread some onto the brayer and apply to the gelatin plate.

 

For each run, you will be making two prints. So once the plate is covered evenly in ink, arrange whatever you want to print on the plate. For this run I placed three lace appliqué pieces that were left over from my wedding dress on the plate:

Place a piece of paper over the plate and rub the ink on the paper, be careful not to shift the paper around to much. As you can see in the picture below I was using scrap paper.

Here is that piece of paper pulled up, this is called the negative image.

To get a positive image, pull up the material on the plate carefully. On the right is a picture of the ink that was left on the plate when the lace appliqué was removed.

 

Using another piece of paper to pick up the leftover ink, this time a sheet of recycled card-stock, I got this image:

Here is a close up:

After a couple of hours of using the gelatin plate it might get a bit mushy, just stick it back in the fridge to firm up again. Over time you might nick the plate or imprint shapes on it, this can result in interestingly altered prints. If you want to change ink colors or otherwise want to clean the plate just wipe it off with clean water, dry it throughly before starting to print again.

Most of my finished prints ended up drying curled up:

To get them to lay flat, I covered a few at a time with a piece of scrap muslin, and ran my iron over them without steam. Then when they were still warm and flexible I bent them back into shape by hand and then stacked them under heavy books.

I find it hard to compose fully formed artwork with the gelatin plate, I like to create different images with the gelatin block and then cut and cobble together pieces into finished pieces of art. Here are shots of me cutting up the lace prints and rearranging them for the giveaway:

              

On your first attempt it’s best not to try to make anything specific, just play around with objects, paper, inks, negative and positive image and so on. Once your have tons of dried prints, and a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t write down different combinations or layouts you want to try for next time.

For more tips and ideas on gelatin printing check out Printmaking Without a Press’s page on Gelatin Printing Tips she also lots of cool ideas elsewhere on her site. Good luck with your own print making, and congrats again to Terri on winning Zounds’ first of hopefully many giveaways.

UPDATE 1/29/2015: I got a request for a printable version of these instructions, download the pdf here: Gelatin Print Tutorial.

UPDATE: I am now selling my gelatin prints in the Zounds Store!


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11 comments

  1. Katie says:

    Thank you so much! The kids at our school just made the gelatin prints. They look fabulous, and the kids are so proud of their art!

  2. Marta says:

    Hola!
    Thanks for this tutorial, I find it genius!!
    I’d like to reply this method on canvas: do you reckon it will be “water resistent” if I use acrylics colors, ore the jelly may effect in some ways?
    anyway I’ll give it a try asap.
    Love your blog
    Marta, from Italy

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