1 + 1 = 3 …

Or, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

After spending hours in the studio experimenting with different paints, textures and printing techniques, I took a break to assess my new stack of Gelli® monotypes. I had created these prints on regular computer paper and dry wax paper, which gave me a collection of interesting images on relatively thin and translucent papers.

Some prints had wonderful areas with cool patterns, others had layers of serendipitous paint interactions. And while not all of the prints could stand on their own, each had parts I was excited about.

So I did what any collage artist would do…



A few years ago I took a workshop taught by Beryl Taylor and learned her fabulous technique for making paper cloth. In a nutshell, you use diluted glue to adhere torn pieces of paper to muslin. 

Tissue paper, ephemera, and fabric scraps are layered over the torn papers to add texture and interest, and the whole thing dries into a sturdy piece of collaged fabric. It’s a great material to work with!

The beauty of using Gelli® print fragments in this process is that each little piece is a unique handmade print. The thin paper stock is a perfect weight for Beryl’s technique. And in this case, since the pieces all came from the same batch of prints, the colors and patterns work together harmoniously, as they share similar attributes such as color and pattern. It’s all good! 

Looking at the piles of Gelli® print snippets, I couldn’t wait to get out the glue and muslin and get to work! 

After the paper cloth was dry I cut it into shapes (figures). At this point, I worked the paper cloth surface further with stencils, stamps, pens and hand-stitching.

Next, I fused the figures to black felt. 

I then carefully machine-stitched close to the edge with variegated thread. 

The last step was to trim the felt close to the stitched edge.

That completed the figures, which would ultimately be adhered to the tiered wooden structure I had built.

The background of this piece was covered in Golden Fiber Paste, with scrim and gauze embedded in areas. Textures were created in the wet fiber paste with a variety of mark-making tools. When that was dry, the surface was gessoed, painted, and glazed. 

Finally, the figures were strategically cut at the arms, 

interlocked, and glued to the finished surface.

There’s one more detail to this piece:

Spelled out along the lower edge, is one of my favorite Japanese proverbs. It reads: 

“A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle.”

Once more … the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 

“Strength in Numbers”

Mixed Media with Gelli Monotypes – 36” x 31”x 4”

by Joan Bess

To learn more about Beryl Taylor’s methods, take a look at her excellent and informative book, “Mixed Media Explorations”. Or check out her article published  in Cloth Paper Scissors, “Making Fabric from Paper”, in the Winter 2004 Premiere Issue.

Here’s a slideshow to give you a closer view of the “parts”. 

Enjoy the show! 

16 thoughts on “1 + 1 = 3 …”

  1. Just found your product and I'm very excited! This is definitely going to make teaching gelatin printing so much easier!

  2. Wonderful! Gorgeous and sophistcated. Love the black felt edge. I'm definitely inspired..thanks for sharing.

  3. @milkcan – Gelli Arts is so excited you are teaching with our gel printing plates! I love your artwork and videos! 🙂

    @MB – I have your fabulous book "Flavor for Mixed Media" … Love it! Try using your callagraph plates on our gel printing plate – awesome results! Thanks so much for your kind comment!

  4. @Jane – So happy you're excited about the Gel Printing Plate! Many thanks for the kind feedback!

    @whyducks – Thanks so much for enjoying the post! I'm glad you found it interesting!

  5. Wildflowerhouse

    I am thrilled with the thought of never having to make another gelatin mold again. Keeping it for a day or two in the frig with a note "do NOT eat" has come to an end. My family thanks you too! I also love your new blog with such wonderful tips.

  6. Thanks, Sharon! I KNEW I wasn't the only one who was having those issues with gelatin 🙂 Monoprinting is so much more convenient now!!! Glad you're enjoying the blog! Please share your prints with us!

  7. Hi RoByn! I have bought dry wax paper from Costco. It comes in a box of folded sheets and is called 'Glenvale All Purpose Deli Wrap'. I have also purchased 12" square sheets of dry wax paper from a restaurant supply company. They are available online from many sources and come in other sizes, too. Look for 'Dry Wax Paper' or 'Deli Wrap'. I hope that helps!

  8. Just received the gelli plate for Christmas. I will be experimenting today. I'm not sure about the masking.

  9. SUCH an inspiring blog… I don't get a lot of time to read blogs, so when I finally do, there's always tons of new posts here with great ideas to peruse for hours. Thanks for the effort and for sharing your results!

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