Mono printing with a gelatin plate, is probably my favorite way to make art. Unlike other forms of printing, or even drawing or painting there is very little pre-planning. All the creativity happens with the ink and materials right on the gelatin block. Often pages you press onto the plate as throwaways, just to absorb excess ink, turn out to be the best print of the day. If you haven’t tried this art form yet read my tutorial and experiment!
I usually use Speedball’s Block Printing inks, but I’ve heard that using acrylics works too. Speedball’s inks are formulated to stay wet longer and absorb into paper very easily. Using acrylics tended to leave a lot of product on the gelatin block that had to be washed off in between pulls. They also dried quickly and stained the gelatin block. For color variety they were nice but I ended up mixing Speedball’s white ink into the acrylics I used just so the consistency was better. The elephant below was created with their Magenta:
To make the shapes, I cut pieces of cardboard and coated them with sealer so that they didn’t absorb ink. However, I found that plain cardboard coated with ink worked just as well.
To make the wood grain patterns on the prints above and below, I used a grain rocker. I have this one from Martha Stewart.
You can use just about anything to create texture and patterns for this method of printing, the background of this print was created with bubble wrap:
I would recommend springing for the real block printing ink, I’ve seen Speedball ink at both Hobby Lobby and Michaels. It’s a lot easier to use and I think produces cleaner prints.