Gelli Plate Monoprint with Ballpoint Emboss Drawing Transfer
Gelli plate monoprints offer a festive and varied approach to printmaking without the need for a press. I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the innovative printmaking methods shared online with these gelatinous squares of potential. And I’m on a roll with gelli plate monoprint with ballpoint emboss drawing transfer this week. I know – it’s a mouthful.
In this post, I’m sharing my first (squealy fun) tests of gelli plate ballpoint drawing transfer monoprints. A good source to see the step-by-step details of this method in motion is on Mark Yeates’ youtube channel: Yeates Makes.
I tried a variety of drawing papers to see which ones gave me a cleaner line in the gelli plate transfer monoprint.
Everything worked – from standard printer paper, scraps of smooth bristol paper, and sheets of different branded drawing papers, so that was a plus.
One paper, in particular, delivered a slightly better emboss, with just the right amount of tooth to pull the acrylic away around my linework, and that was Strathmore 300 series Medium Surface Drawing Paper.
Embossed Drawing Gelli Plate Magic
Once your drawing is laid face down on the wet acrylic-coated gelli plate, each drawn and embossed line on your paper is like a miniature tunnel whose ceiling is too high to make contact with the pigments.
All the flat, un-drawn areas of your drawing paper make full contact with the acrylic, so the pigment transfers from the gelli to the paper.
The embossed linework doesn’t touch the pigment or the gelli plate, which leaves the acrylic untouched along all the embossed drawing lines.
Acrylic vs Printmaking Ink
If you only have printmaking ink, I don’t think this exact method will work as well, since it requires the pigments to dry. The first step; transferring the ballpoint pen drawing is done with freshly rolled out, still wet acrylic paint.
The second step requires the pigments to dry completely – while pressed firmly against the printmaking paper, so you can peel all the pigment off the gelli plate.
I haven’t experimented with anything other than standard acrylic paint, so if you try this with other pigments, please leave some notes about your results in the comments.
Ball Point Pen Selection
Since the embossed drawing can be re-used to make another print, I re-embossed the linework with a different color of ballpoint ink so I could see where I was drawing.
I used a medium ballpoint pen (like these) instead of a fine point, to make a slightly wider indentation in the paper.
It’s interesting to note that these fragile sheets of drawing paper – when used this way – are essentially printmaking plates. And they’re made more sturdy with each layer of acrylic paint pressed against them.
TIP: When rolling out your layer of acrylic paint on the gelli plate to lift the drawing transfer, be sure to use a very light color for best contrast, and take care to reduce any lap marks from the brayer, or color shifts.
More Ballpoint Drawing Gelli Plate Transfer Monoprints to Come
The results of this ballpoint drawing transfer gelli plate monoprint experiment fluffed my creative mojo to make more. (Of course.)
I spent 10 minutes gathering reference images from my photo library. The next day, I made a soft stack with newsprint as padding to help emboss my paper, and I started drawing.
Over the course of an afternoon, I made eleven ball point transfer monoprints from my gelli plate. This process is fast. If you work small (I used a 5×7 and an 8×10 – and I preferred the smaller plate), and you create your drawings ahead of time, you can have a very fruitful afternoon of making gelli plate drawing transfer monoprints.
TIP: Have your printmaking paper torn down to size (just a little larger than your gelli plate), so it’s ready while the acrylic is still fully wet for that final transfer.
Windward Perception – 7.5 x 5.25 Monoprint – Available in my Etsy Shop here.
Art & Creativity Links for You
- In Los Angeles, California, there is an old brick building visible from the freeway that used to be a Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer Brewery. Now, the complex houses an Artist Colony, with several hundred studios, and a thriving community of painters, musicians, sculptors, photographers, and printmakers. This short documentary features several residents of the Brewery, including printmaker Dave Lefner. I watched him carving and printing a neon sign reduction linocut at the LA Art Show several years ago, and it has remained with me ever since.
- The Jack Richeson company is holding another online art competition, and you can submit your landscape art for the show, and the prizes. Richeson’s Landscape, Seascape, and Architecture competition has an entry deadline of May 19th, so if you jump on it now, you’ll have plenty of time to submit your work. See the details on the show here.
- If you’re wondering whether to include prices for your art on your website, Clint Watson – Bold Brush and Faso websites founder – has written an in-depth essay in three parts on the subject. You can read it here.
If you are interested in more of these gelli plate monoprint experiments I’ll be writing about next, you can subscribe to get each blog post via email (free) here.
Thanks for stopping by today, and I’ll see you in the next post –
P.S. Winsor and Newton featured a quick tutorial for mixing watercolor and stitching in this short video.
Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.Frederick Buechner