Sunday, December 29, 2013

Homemade Gelli

Gelli plates are all the rage right now, but they are a little too expensive for my pocketbook. Ole Santa didn't leave me enough after I paid for the gifts . So this is the method I chose.


I picked up an inexpensive ($5) covered 9x13 cake pan. The cover will help me store it without the risk of critters, dust, or bunneh hair falling into it.


I bought 2 4-pack boxes of Knox gelatin - $2 per pack. I bought 3 6-ounce bottles of plain glycerin. These are $3 apiece. My total investment was $16. For comparison, an authentic Gelli plate 12 x 14 inches is $70 retail.

The order of ingredients is important. Start by measuring out 2 cups of glycerin in a bowl. I used a plastic bowl, but glass would work too. Sprinkle 8 packets of gelatin over the glycerin and gently fold in so it has a chance to soften. Set aside.

Start some water to boil water. Pour 2 cups of boiling water gently into the glycerin/gelatin mix. Gently stir it until the gelatin is well distributed. How will you know? You won't have any loose water pooling on top of the mix. Next, carefully pour into your pan. You can use any shaped pan, and this amount with this pan yielded a half-inch thick piece of gelli.


Take a moment to remove the little bubbles. I just lightly touched the bubbles, and they either burst, or they attached themselves to my finger. This will be the BOTTOM of your gelatin plate, so I don't think it's critically important. Set it on a level shelf in your refrigerator, or if the weather's cold, set it outside. Make sure it's level and do NOT put the lid on it. You don't want to trap any condensation as it cools.

Gently loosen the gel from the edges of the pan, place a piece of sturdy material (glass, plexiglass, plastic, etc.) over the pan and invert the gelatin. If it doesn't come loose in quick fashion, you need to help it by lifting a corner free, then invert the pan again. Your gel plate is ready to play!

If you did what I did, you could end up with a tear. No worries. Cut it up and place it in a microwave safe bowl, heat until melted, then pour it back in the pan and repeat the process. You can also change it from rectangular to round by doing the same thing and using a different pan/mold. Also, this doesn't have an odor, and doesn't degrade or rot. It's very stable and needs no refrigeration.


Here are some of the first prints I pulled. I used Basics acrylic paint (Michael's artist paint), Golden fluid acrylics and cheap Apple Barrel acrylic paint. They all worked about the same. If you want more time to work, mix a little fluid medium into the paint before you put it on the plate. That extends the drying time.


I used a variety of tools on my plate. I wasn't gentle because I wanted to know what my plate could do. It is really tough, and holds up to poking and smooshing. That said, it's not going to hold up if you stab it with a palette knife, but you can go into it with catalyst-type tools - I used cut cardboard, a floor adhesive texture tool, masks, and a palette knife.

I used Strathmore Bristol vellum and Gina K Designs Pure Luxury papers to pull these prints. I don't see much difference between them, except the GKD paper has a smoother finish. The paint, however, adds texture making the beginning hand of the paper moot.


This is going to be an awesome tool. I'm probably not going to use it every day, which makes the cover that much more important. Also be aware that once you unmold it, it's a bit like pandora's box - you can't fit it back in the pan the same way it was before you unmolded it. I cleaned it with a baby wipe and water. The best way to clean it is to put paper on it then let it sit until the paint is completely dry. The residual paint will stick to your paper and come off all at once this way.

I hope this encourages you to give a cheap plate a try. It's really easy and works great. Most of all, get out there and PLAY! Leave a comment if you have any questions, and I'll do my best to answer.

Ta for now,
~ky

28 comments:

  1. Thank you very much - next time I'm shopping I'll pop the ingredients into the trolley :))

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  2. thank you so much for sharing this..I made one with just the gelatin, but didn't know about the glycerin.

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing! I made one this morning, I just don't know how long before it sets and is ready to use. I can't wait to play :-D

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  4. After reading quite a number of instructions by several authors, I'm convinced that yours are the most comprehensive directions I have come across. Because you have made it easy to read and understand, you have given me the incentive to be frugal and try my hand at this. I really am in gratitude. --D

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  5. After reading quite a number of instructions by several authors, I'm convinced that yours are the most comprehensive directions I have come across. Because you have made it easy to read and understand, you have given me the incentive to be frugal and try my hand at this. I really am in gratitude. --D

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  6. Now I/m curious how much are 2 cups of water in milliliters, please?

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    1. Hi, as each cup is a different size I guess it's impossible to give an accurate measurement. I am in the UK and we don't do cup sizes, we do measurements so that is of interest to me also :)

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    2. A cup is usually 250mls. An old fashioned tea cup is often accurate too.

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  7. How have these lasted? I tried from another recipe last night and mine didn't gel well.
    The recipe I followed was 4 packs of gelatin, 1/3 cup hot water and 6 oz of gelatin.
    I think I will try a remelt.

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  8. How have these lasted? I tried from another recipe last night and mine didn't gel well.
    The recipe I followed was 4 packs of gelatin, 1/3 cup hot water and 6 oz of gelatin.
    I think I will try a remelt.

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  9. 1 cup = 8 oz = 237 ml so 2 cups would be 574 ml I would round up to 575 ml to make it easier. :)

    I am just waiting for my ingredients to arrive tomorrow so I can start making fun art! Thanks for the clear and easy instructions!!

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  10. how do you make it with mineral oil? does anyone know? thanks great article.

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  11. Thank you for this tutorial which is very clear and well written. It will be very helpful when I teach prinmaking as it is too expensive to supply each student with a commercial gelli plate.
    I have one question - where do you store your gelli plate - in the fridge? I live in a hot, humid area and am worried about mould.

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  12. Well I followed this recipe and it was a disaster, thick, lumpy and not sure what I have done wrong but can you melt it again if you don't have a microwave please?

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    1. It can be remelted over a low heat.

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  13. I have made the temporary gell plate before but I really did not like the way they got moldy after a while. I used this recipe tonight and it worked great.
    Angelwings if you don't have a microeave you can use a double boiler.

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  14. I have made the temporary gell plate before but I really did not like the way they got moldy after a while. I used this recipe tonight and it worked great.
    Angelwings if you don't have a microeave you can use a double boiler.

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  15. Made this a couple of days ago. Tore it as I removed it from the pan. Per instructions, I put it in a microwave bowl and melted it down again. Poured it out a second time and noticed far fewer bubbles. This time it came out perfect. No tears and no bubbles that I couldn't remove easily. Used it for the first time this morning. Worked like a champ. Thank you so much!!

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  16. can some one help me I have a 9 in by 9 in glass dish can some one help me figure out the recipe for that size my dish looks like this http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/pyrex-2-qt-square-baking-dish/1014517006?skuId=14517006&ioid=HH000032&mcid=PS_googlepla_nonbrand_bakeware_&adpos=1o2&creative=43742625349&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&product_id=14517006&gclid=Cj0KEQjwnIm7BRDSs42KxLS8-6YBEiQAfDWP6B9XjROIxdLR6vsa8MbULxcFaKsQ0RirjPAafxQyhcMaApwg8P8HAQ

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    1. I would not adjust the recipe... just use other shapes and make mini molds with what is leftover. The original pan size made a 1/2" mold so fill your 8x8 to 1/2" and go from there. And like Linda said... do not excess down the drain just let it set and put in trash.

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    2. Catherine put water into your container to the depth you want. Measure it into cups(250ml). !liquid for the gel plate should be 1/2 water, 1/2 Glycerine. So if you measured 4 cups in YOUR container, 2 cups should be water, and 2 cups should be glycerine. ok now for each cup of liquid, add 2 heaped tablespoons of gelatine. (For 4 cups of liquid you would need 8 tblspns of gelatine.) Stir well, heat gently in oven or microwave then pour into YOUR container and set.

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  17. Catherine, I wouldn't adjust the recipe. Your gelli plate will just be thicker. You can always not pour all of the mix into your pan. Just let the excess set up in the bowl and then put it in the trash (not down the sink).

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  18. Where did you get Glycerin for $3./6 oz bottle. your pictured bottle from Walmart was over $8.
    thanks in advance for your source.

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  19. Hi. I would like to try this to but being a non american I do not know how much gelatine is in a box of Knox. How much gelatine to the Glycerine will you say?
    Thanks for the recepie .

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  20. Hi. I would like to try this to but being a non american I do not know how much gelatine is in a box of Knox. How much gelatine to the Glycerine will you say?
    Thanks for the recepie .

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  21. I just finished making it. Can't wait until tomorrow morning to start printing. It was very simple to do. I bought a local brand of gelatin, not Knox. Thanks so much.

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  22. Hi just asking ? Will this recipe grow mold ?

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