Gild the Gelli®

To “gild the lily” is to unnecessarily add adornment to something that is already beautiful and perfect. Simply put, you’re overdoing it.

To gild the Gelli® … Well, that’s a different story!!! More is more! Let’s glitz it up!

There are lots of ways to add a sparkly metallic touch to your Gelli® monoprints! I’d like to share a recent discovery — a fun, easy and different way to create a radiant Gelli® print.
And this time we’re not printing on paper or fabric!

I’ll call this technique “Gilded Gelli® Film”.

One of the unique features of this technique is that the print image will not be reversed.
What you see on the plate is exactly how it will appear in the print!

For this process — in addition to your Gelli® plate and acrylic paints — you’ll need:

1. Clear adhesive film (cold laminating film) — 

available in various sizes (in sheets and rolls) at craft and office supply stores. Clear packing tape or clear contact paper will also work for this technique.

2. Metal leaf, such as Mona Lisa Metal Leaf — available at art and craft stores. (Tip: Keep metal leaf away from your Gelli plate to avoid loose and flyaway bits from sticking to it.)

No metal leaf on hand? No problem. There’s an easy workaround. Use aluminum foil instead.

Other supplies include a brayer or soft brush, and various texture tools.

That’s it. So let’s get started!

First, apply a layer of acrylic paint to the Gelli® plate surface.

For this technique you will need to have some unpainted areas.

• Use texture tools to remove paint.

• Or wipe out a design with a cotton swab … (my favorite way to make dots!)

It’s important to have some small areas with NO PAINT!

 Using more than one color paint can make exciting prints … just be sure to leave some blank, unpainted areas. Take your time.

Have fun. And remember — what you see on your plate is exactly what your print will look like!

Then let the paint dry on the plate.  

Really! Totally dry!

A little patience is all it takes — if the paint is not fully dry, this technique will not work. This is when those fast-drying acrylic paints are your best friend!

If you’re compelled to move the drying process along, use a hair dryer on the COOL setting. No heat. And NO heat guns!!!

All dry? Take a piece of clear adhesive-backed film and remove the backing sheet if there is one. You are going to apply the film adhesive-side down onto the dried, painted surface of the gel plate and rub with your hands as usual to transfer the paint.

Slowly, begin removing the film from the gel plate. The paint will adhere to the clear film.

If there are any air bubbles between the film and the plate, the paint will not transfer in those spots.

The adhesive film must make contact with the paint.

As you pull the film off the plate — you might have a spot where the paint isn’t lifting. Simply roll the film back over that area, rub again, and continue pulling the film from the gel plate.

This is a very easy process!

Your monoprint is now transferred onto the laminating film. Where there is no paint, the film remains clear and sticky. As you’ll see — that’s a good thing!

The next step is to apply metal leaf to the sticky, clear areas of the film. It will adhere easily. (Tip: Trim away the unpainted film edges first.)

You are working on what will be the back of the print.

Use your finger to burnish the metal leaf onto the film. Brush away the extra metal leaf bits. (I do this with a cosmetic sponge, over a sheet of paper, then tap the crumbs into a container and save for use on other pieces.)

Details from the right side

The metal leaf is now permanently adhered to the film. When you turn the print over to view the right side, you’ll see the metal leaf has filled in the blank spaces! Beautiful!

If you don’t have metal leaf — or are looking for an economical alternative — use aluminum foil!

Place the adhesive side of your Gelli® Film print onto the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil … and burnish.

The film will adhere to the foil and fill in the unpainted areas with silver! Couldn’t be easier!

Gilded Gelli® Film is a wonderful collage component!

Take advantage of its transparent nature and consider layering over text or journal writing.

The layer below will peek through in places!

You can even selectively scrape some paint off the film to create a clear space — perfect for revealing an image placed underneath.

Here’s something else to try!

Before adding the metal leaf, I like to press flat sequins, tiny stickers, small pieces of torn paper, or any flat element, onto the sticky parts of the film print! What fun!

Or, instead of metal leaf, my friend Judi Kauffman, suggests rubbing the sticky film parts with mica pigment powders such as Pearl Ex or Perfect Pearls, or micro-fine glitter. Use multiple colors for a fabulous shimmery effect!

Dazzling, right?

But wait! There’s more!!!

Lightly sand the shiny surface with ultra fine sandpaper and …

You can stamp on the sanded surface of your printed Gilded Gelli® Film using StazOn inks!

Dab on some alcohol inks! Doodle with Sharpies, Sakura Souffle pens, Copic markers, and other permanent markers and pens.

Embellish the film surface with dimensional fabric paints, like those by Jones Tones or Tulip. Try a bit of foiling. Add a touch of glitter with Ranger’s Stickles

Layer collage paper, fabric, or found objects onto the surface.

Go play! The possibilities are endless!

The discovery of the “Gilded Gelli® Film” technique resulted from one of those “what if…” moments we all have. As you may have guessed, I was wondering if dried acrylic paint on a Gelli® plate could easily be removed by applying tape and pulling it off. It can! 

And in case you’ve ever wondered where the expression “gilding the lily” comes from, the source is none other than William Shakespeare!

And he’s been famously misquoted!

From his play, King John (1594), you’ll find the following:

While you’re thinking that over, please take a few moments to watch this slideshow featuring a collection of Artist Trading Cards made from “Gilded Gelli® Film”!


14 thoughts on “Gild the Gelli®”

  1. Oh my goodness how amazing is this! Thank you for sharing this, it is just brilliant, what talent and what a great idea, I never would have been brave enough to try it!

  2. @whyducks – Thank you so much for your enthusiasm! It's such a fun and easy technique … happy to share this exciting discovery!

    @Kim – I'm thrilled that you're going to give it a try! Hoping you'll show us your results on our Facebook page 🙂 Have fun, Kim … and thanks for your great comment!

    @Jane – You said it!!! It's the ultimate clean up! You get a clean plate and a very cool Gelli print! Win-win! Thanks so much, Jane!

  3. OMG!! I love this!!
    This would even be good to use with kids on a rainy day or craft day!!
    Preschool,church, VBS how fun!!
    Now I need to check and see where I can buy some at!!
    TSM for the awesome tutorials!!

  4. Thanks, Michelle! You're right … kids love printing on the Gelli plate too!!! So glad you like the tutorials!

  5. elkeartsandcrafts

    I so enjoyed this technique and just checked to see if I have laminating film – yes! Good! I need to finish some other projects before 'having a go'. That is the problem with mixed media, there are so many things we keep wanting to try and never run out of ideas. I keep promising myself that I will not get interested in another craft, or a new product. FAT CHANCE! LOL!

    Keep 'em coming.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Greetings from England x

  6. Hi readers, from the Netherlands …we don't have the gel plate in Holland…in which shop you can buy the gel plate in your country, I would like to ask my sister in law ,who lives in San Francisco to bring me one in June …..

  7. Isn’t That Pretty

    How else can these finished pieces be used? I make art cards with water color paper. Can a cut piece of this be adhered to it somehow? I don’t scrapbook, so curious on other uses…….

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