Watch Your Back!

In my last blog post I talked about using different media to add color to Gelli® prints that aren’t quite “there yet”.

What I didn’t mention is that there’s “another side” to the story. Literally!

Back of overdyed Gelli® Print

On a number of prints, where the print surface was saturated with dye, the color seeped right through the paper to the back. And the acrylic paint from the original Gelli® print created a resist! Talk about a cool effect!!!

Just like when you’re working with fabric — sometimes the wrong side feels more “right”. You may discover the back of an overdyed print is quite wonderful. Don’t be surprised if at times you prefer the subtle, blurry, watercolor look.

The incidental images on the back of my spray-dyed prints inspire me to keep exploring! I’m hooked on this process 🙂

Following the same basic steps from my previous blog post, I applied additional color to Gelli® prints and blotted or wiped it off with a damp paper towel.

To keep things simple, this time I only used Adirondack Color Wash Spray to overdye the prints.

Here’s what I learned in the process…

1. Gelli® prints created with a heavier application of paint — using stencils, masks, and drawn or blocked out images — often create more dynamic reverse-side prints.

In other words, you want to be sure there’s enough paint and pattern on your print to create an interesting resist 🙂

Gelli® print created with stencils as masks, then overdyed.

2. Thinner paper works better. I was especially pleased with many of the reverse-side prints created on plain computer paper.

3. Dampening the gel print with water BEFORE adding the spray dye helps the colors blend together and absorb all the way through the paper.

Back of damp print

TIP: When the front of the print is saturated with water, flip it over and look at the back (or hold the print up to a light source). You’ll see where the added dye is going to seep through on the back.

 4. Wet, saturated prints will buckle as they dry.

So, you might want to iron the prints flat once they’re dry. It’s important to cover the print with parchment paper or a press cloth to protect your iron! (I use a piece of muslin)

5. This is an intuitive process. On some prints, I add water to the front and back to encourage the colors to spread. You can’t always predict how the colors will react — so experiment!

6. And if you’re like me and can’t decide which side to use — scan both sides! Then use the images in art journals, collage, ATC’s, and any paper, mixed media or digital art project! Perfect!

And the best lesson of all? Spraying dye onto Gelli® prints is a crazy-fun process!!!

In fact, we at Gelli Arts are having such a good time with this easy technique, we want to give one of our readers the chance to win a set of six Adirondack Color Wash Sprays to play with!!!

Just leave a comment on this blog and you’ll be entered to win the Adirondack Color Wash giveaway!

The winner will be selected by a random drawing on Friday May 11th. Nancy will announce the lucky winner here and on our Facebook page. Good luck!

I hope you’ll find some inspiration in this slideshow! And thanks for watching my backs!!!

Accompanying music – Sonatina in C Minor by Kevin MacLeod

64 thoughts on “Watch Your Back!”

  1. What a great tutorial! I love to use inks, but had never uses them for gelatin prints. I have been wanting a Gelliart printing plate, and plan to buy one, so I would love to win the inks! Thank you for the tutorial and the chance to win.

  2. ellen jaye benson

    As an educator, I find your blog such a goldmine for non-intimidating and non-toxic printmaking procedures – would love to win the inks and promise to make a gallery of finished prints demonstrating the potential of Adirondack Color Wash.

  3. So fun!
    I will have to check the back of my prints from now on! 🙂
    Of course, I love the inclusion of the map in your Gelli print collage, too!

  4. Very interesting- I'm a "traditional" printmaker, but these Gelli prints are so easy and give such good results that I'll use them too. They will be especially good with classes where people are not experinced artists. Thanks!!

  5. Ginny Markley

    I never thought to use the Colorwash spray with the Gelli Plate. Colorwash was developed for use on fabric…think of the possibilities!! I would love to try this!

  6. Have had the 6 X 6 for a while and just received the new 12 X 14.
    Wondering if there might be a Yahoo group for Gelli in the near future?
    Edith in Dallas TEXAS

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