Plan B

Sometimes when you’re printing with a Gelli® plate, you’ll pull a print and observe a very cool design left on the plate.

Sometimes this residual layer of paint will allow for the opportunity to pull an interesting second (ghost) print.

And sometimes the paint remaining on the plate is too dry or too thin to pull a good ghost print. So you wipe the plate, or apply fresh paint and keep printing. C’est la vie!

But wait — there’s a technique for releasing that thin layer of paint to produce wonderful, ethereal prints. And it’s so easy!

I tend not to clean the plate between prints because I like the surprise of residual color from previous prints showing up here and there as I continue printing.

But when I see something on the plate that I really like, and know it won’t print as is, it’s time for … “Plan B”.

Here’s how it works…

To start, I’ve created a Gelli® print. I’m using Liquitex Basic acrylic tube paints —but any acrylic paint should work.

As you can see, there’s a strong image left on the plate — and, in this case, no chance for a successful ghost print. The paint is simply too dry.

The good news … this is the perfect set up for the next steps.

1. Using a brayer, roll a layer of heavy-body acrylic paint onto the plate — right over the leftover paint. I usually use Liquitex Titanium White Heavy Body tube color for this technique. Viscosity counts here, so any heavy body paint should work.

2. Now pull a print on a piece of regular computer paper. The print will usually be solid white. Toss that print aside.

On this print,
the white
paint picked
up some of
the paint left
on the plate.

That doesn’t
often happen
— most likely,
your first print
will be solid

3. Quickly cover your plate with a new piece of printing paper. Rub as usual to transfer the paint. In fact, you can give it a little extra rubbing time. Then pull the print off the plate.

This time, the ghost print will pull up most, if not all, of the paint remaining on the plate! How cool is that!

Note: You may find that the paper sticks to the plate on the second print. Just pull the print slowly and firmly and watch it transfer the paint off the plate.

Also, if there was any paint left on your plate from previous prints, this print may pull it up!

See the small turquoise blob near the center of this print? That was leftover paint from a previous print! I love these little surprises! Who knew?!

Images left behind on the plate after a mask is removed can yield particularly beautiful prints. These make the most wonderful ghost prints.

Sometimes, after the ghost print, there’s still an image left on the plate — but the paint at this point is too thin and/or dry to pull a third print. It’s often just an outline of the original mask shape. Usually, a lost printing opportunity.

 Here’s what happens when you go to Plan B!

 Nice print! A little magical, right? I think so!

One of the things we all love about printmaking is its inherent unpredictability. There’s a thrill in pulling a print — and you don’t always get what you expect. Will “Plan B” work every time? Probably not. But you’ll usually get some very cool surprises and some truly wonderful results. It’s fun! Try it!

Creating a print this way is also a great way to get a head start on cleaning your plate 🙂

And now … for the NEW Gelli® giveaway!!!

I have one kit that includes: a 6”x6” Gelli plateAND a 4.65 oz. (big!) tube of Liquitex Professional Acrylic Artist Color Heavy Body Titanium White paint — AND a 4” Soft Rubber Speedball Pop-In Brayer to give away to one lucky blog reader!

There will be a random drawing on Monday, March 19th — and all you have to do to be included in the drawing is leave a comment on this blog! Nancy will announce the winner here on this blog AND on our Facebook page!

Here’s one more tip I’d like to add: My new favorite paper for printing with Gelli® is Staples #110 Card Stock! It has a super smooth surface that grabs the paint off the plate. Paint colors look true and clean on this bright white heavy card stock. I love monoprinting on it!

All of the prints in the following slideshow were made on this paper.

I hope you’ll find some inspiration in this slideshow of the “Plan B” process. The music selection,”Ghost Dance” by Kevin MacLeod, suits the work so perfectly — as “Plan B” prints are, technically, ghost prints! How fun!

Thank you for watching — all comments are welcome!

51 thoughts on “Plan B”

  1. This is super exciting, because I had just been wondering if there was a solution for this exact problem! I generally work with Pro Chemical & Dye brand fabric paints which are lovely to work with except for gel monoprinting – they simply dry WAY TOO FAST to capture any of the ghost images that get created, and I am super excited that there might be a way to get that print off the plate after all.

  2. Martha Richardson

    Well Hello – I'm here becasue I read about this on JUlie Fei-Fan Balzer's blog and I think I NEED to learn more about this process. So excited to delve into this !

  3. Debbie - StudioBeeCreations

    OH MY GOODNESS!!!!…Thanks to Julie FeiFan Balzer, I found YOU….and a new art to try!!!….LOVEEEE this!…Thanks for the opportunity to win!!! creative blessings, Debbie

  4. I just got a Gelli plate a few weeks ago. I haven't had a lot of time to play with it because I've been busy building pirate costumes for my daughter's school musical but I did have my 7 year old son pull a few test prints with craft paint while I was busy. I honestly wan't expecting much – I had given up on monoprinting years ago because I hate how uneven and splotchy the paint and dye ends up being with most traditional techniques.

    I was amazed at how smooth and even the paint surface was with my son's prints and how easy it was for just a little kid to pull a nice print. Plus my Maxx had a blast with it. He's not a "crafty" sort of kid but he didn't want to put the plate away!

    I'm hoping to get to some fabric prints myself this week and I'm considering getting another plate for dye work so I can keep one clean and have one that can get stained. I'm also eager for some foliage to bud out here in the North Country so I can do some botanicals. I started seeing embroidery possibilities the minute my eyes landed on that beautiful botanical ghost print near the bottom of the post!

    Thanks for making a product that adds another technique to my craft. 🙂

  5. I am so excited about this process! Thanks for the tutorial and the product suggestions. Great giveaway, gelli hugs

  6. I am just getting into altered journal and mixed media art. This is the first time I have seen the gelli plate and now I simply must have one!

    Thank you so much for all of this inspiration. This would be a wonderful gift to receive.


  7. MarveLes Art Studios

    Well, what a 'ghost of an idea!' Thanks for the tip on the paper, too! Can't wait to give it a 'ghost' of a chance!!!! LOL (Yes, I'm a dork!)

  8. Amazing! I need to give this a try. Do you think it would work with an acrylic that is a little thinner on a fabric? I don't use my gel plate for paper so I will have to give this a go. I suppose if I don't care about the hand of the fabric it won't really matter. Great idea!

    1. Lisa – Congrats!! You are the winner of the blog giveaway 🙂 I just need you to email the address you want your new artistic 'loot' sent to and we'll get it on it's way. Have fun and share your prints with us!

  9. Wow, what a cool idea…must try it out next time I am using my Gelli plate. I am sat here surrounded by mono prints scanning them in, then I am going to cut them up to make a few cards. Thanks for the idea and a great product.

  10. Thank you!!! I have been frustrated trying to get the ghost print when I see a neat design left on the plate. Trying to recreate it is a fool's game, but I have tried. You are an angel!!! Thanks for the opportunity to win one of your fabulous gellies!

  11. Thanks so much for the tutorial. I've had the print left over on the plate and hated to remove it; now I know I can do the paint on it and get a very nice surprise. Thanks for the chance!

    Carmen L

  12. Thanks for sharing this technique. I teach gelatin monoprinting at my local quilt shop (using GELLI plates!) and will pass on this tip!

  13. I can't wait to try this with my 4 year old daughter – so much fun!!!! Thank you for sharing and for the great draw'

  14. very cool-I love Plan "B". Have been wanting to try gelli-plates so it would be great to win this giveaway.

  15. Gelli printing seems to be a great way to loosen up and be free. I hope to be able to incorporate this process into my more traditional style of painting.

  16. i just discovered Gelli and woul.d love to give it a try, the whole idea of printing and ghost printing would be great in my mixed media arts. thanks for the great idea and tutorial.

  17. Just LOVE what you can do with the Gelli plates and would love to try! 🙂 Thanks for the generous give away – hope I win!!

  18. Thanks for the great tip. I'm wondering whether misting the plate would work for getting up a ghost print when using the Pro-Fab paints on fabric. Has anyone tried it?

  19. Printing with Gelli plates is so much fun. Now I have another trick up my sleeve to save that 'ghost' image left after the initial print – thanks
    Bette Abdu, NH

  20. Oh Wow that is so cool and thrifty, no waste, thats what I like. Knowing that you can make use of that left over paint, Wow the mind is really going now. Thanks for the information. It never stops does it. Cool!!!!

  21. Cynthia Schelzig

    What a fun little video of those Plan B´s… it!! I would love to win one of these plates…I would give it a good home and put it to very good use:)

  22. Susan Harrington

    What a brilliant way to have a Gelli plate do double duty! And, my goodness, how much simpler than mixing, pouring etc to have a gelatine plate…love the Gelli plate saving money and time all the way around.

  23. In my collage class last Saturday, the instructor demo'd the Gelli Arts gel plate and let us try it. So very much fun! I loved making painted papers with it and can't wait to get one. I love the Plan B idea. Super product!

  24. Cool techniques! I'd love to give this a try and work on some of the other wonderful ideas you've shared.

  25. I have been so wanting to do this . . . just can't afford to buy the printing plate at this time . . .

  26. Via the Sketchbook Challenge I got a Gelli Arts Printing Plate in the mail, for I was the winner of March. I am so thrilled, love to try it out. Thanks for the inspirational ideas on this blog.

  27. thanks so much for the tips on the ghost printing. I've been hating to leave the prints on my gelli plate. And, knowing what type of cardstock to use helps immensly! Thanks for the chance!


    Carmen L

  28. I am very new to Gelli printing and I can hardly wait to use Plan B. I think those pages and ghost prints will make fascinating alternate pages in hand bound books altho I am not a card stock lover. Do you have another suggestion for book pages?

    Thanks for a great new idea

    Have a great Day!
    Hugs from Ciaobiddy

  29. Thanks so much for the tutorial. I just bought a gelli plate but have 2 grandaughters that love to play art with me. It would be so nice to have an extra when they come to visit!

  30. I'm not sure my first comment worked so here is version 2. I used my Gelli plate for the for the first time today and I am thrilled with the results. Luckily I have this blog to inspire and inform. Thank you.

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