Intaglio-Inspired Printing with Gelli Arts®

See how you can achieve an intaglio effect — without a press! — using a styrofoam

printing plate, a ballpoint pen, acrylic paint … and a Gelli® plate!

Intaglio (pronounced in-TAL-ee-oh) is a printmaking process using a plate that has been inscribed or etched. Ink is applied to the plate and pushed into the grooves. The plate is then carefully wiped to remove the ink from its surface, so that ink remains only in the incised areas. When the plate is put through a press, the high pressure pushes the paper into the grooves and transfers the ink to create an intaglio print.

We’re taking the basic concept of intaglio and adapting it to printing with Gelli®! With the Gelli ® plate, there’s no need for a press! You won’t have to meticulously wipe the plate for printing 🙂 And there’s no need for special inks — acrylic paint works just fine!

Follow these step-by-step instructions for creating an intaglio effect:

1. Use a ballpoint pen (or pencil or stylus) to inscribe a design into a styrofoam printing plate.

TIP: Once the styrofoam plate is ready, I like to stick it onto a piece of Press ‘n Seal (food wrap) to keep the back of the plate clean. Doing this is not essential to the printing process. But it keeps things from getting messy 🙂

2. Apply a generous amount of acrylic paint to the styrofoam plate.

3. Use a squeegee to spread paint across the foam plate. Make sure the paint is pushed down into the incised lines — while the surface is wiped as clean as possible.

Note: An old credit card or piece of mat board will work as a squeegee.

TIP: After you squeegee the paint onto the foam plate, you can roll the surface with a brayer. And instead of wiping the plate to remove surface paint — just pull a relief print! To do this — quickly cover the plate with a piece of paper and rub — and pull a print! The image in a relief print is reversed.

4. Flip the styrofoam plate onto the Gelli plate, paint-side down — and roll over the back of the plate with a clean brayer. The paint in the grooves will transfer to the gel plate. Remove the foam plate.

5. Cover the gel plate with your printing paper. Rub to transfer the paint — then pull your print.

Good things to know:

One of the wonderful benefits of this technique is that the final print is right-reading! That means the printed image is not reversed — and written words will read exactly as you wrote them 🙂

  • The styrofoam plate is durable, so you can use your image over and over!
  • Perfect for printing fabulous art journal template pages — creating lines and spaces — and you can work back into your prints!
  • If you are working in layers, try an intaglio layer as your last one. That will give you a line drawing over a background image!
  • Clean styrofoam food trays and plates will work for this technique! What a great way to upcycle those products 🙂

Foam printing plates, like those seen in this video, are available at Dick Blick, Daniel Smith, and many other art supply retailers.

Intaglio-inspired Gelli® print (black lines) —
embellished with Distress Stains, Inktense pencils, Neocolor II crayons,
rubber stamps and collage.

Happy Printing!!

190 thoughts on “Intaglio-Inspired Printing with Gelli Arts®”

  1. Wow! Not having a press is no longer a reason to not print. I love printmaking and I haven't done it in years. What a great product.

  2. I've been putting off getting one… call it temporary insanity!! The press & seal went off the market in NZ for a few years, only just back again, what a great use for it too 🙂

  3. This is a great technique to teach my senior citizen class. Thank you so much. Sure would love to win the Gelli kit.

  4. IT is a celebration of Creativity! and my new Jelli pad is going to burst out of its plastic package and spew forth colour , pattern and design…………..Thank you for encouraging so many down the path of possibilities.

    Brayers are locked …and loaded! FIRE!

  5. wow I just found your blog and love the whole concept and techniques you can do with the gelli plates!! This is all new to me so I would LOVE to win the kit! thnx for the chance to win!!

  6. How simple and effective! I am also going to give it a go on fabric with fabric paint or maybe thickened dyes!?? I would love, love to win the giveaway!

  7. Wow….amazing. I have had sessions at a local printing workshop but this is much more suited to my small crafting area….and no going through the mess of making geltin plates….win win situation

  8. Ok, my local art studio has gelliart in stock and a class is coming up, so this sure would be a splash of vibrant color if this RAK came to me. Sharing of course the creations with everyone would be a must!!!

  9. Just discovered Gelli Arts Printing Plate. Would LOVE to try them out as an art project for my homeschooled son. My head is spinning with all of the fun things we could make with one. Thanks for the opportunity 🙂 Keeping my fingers crossed.

  10. So simple and so effective. I just got a Gelli Plate and I know I can do great art with it. From time to time I mentor other artists, including kids, and would love to introduce them to this wonderful way of creating fabulous prints.
    Trish Johnston STUDIO STARLIGHT

  11. I love my gelli plate – I bought it before anyone had heard of them and have recommended them to everyone I know – including posting on FB. I use mine for book pages printing, cards, fabrics, and am still discovering ways to use it. It is in perfect shape even after all this use. I'd love to win this treat to add to my love of the Gelli products. Wish me luck! I want to have an extra one for my great grand to art with me.

  12. Fiona (anubis 1 )

    Just stumbled across your blog and a fabulous innovitive gelli plate. How awesome is this. I am amazed at the results you can achieve with this unique product. I'm ecstatic to be in with a chance to win.

  13. My work surface is ready, my brayer primed, my stack of paper and fabric is handy, I'm all ready for to be a winner!!

  14. Oh my goodness, I've been wanting a gelli plate for a while now. I love the Intaglio printing that you did! Great stuff! Thanks for the chance to win!

  15. I have been hearing about this printing plate for sometime now and the works I have seen done with this are fabulous! Thanks so much for the opportunity to have a chance to win one! xx

  16. Amy Art Quilter & Fyber Cafe

    I like the idea of putting a line drawing over my painted gelli print. Thanks for the chance to win!

  17. These are very inspirational, I would love to win one, but am thinking if I am not so lucky, I am still going to buy it!

  18. Jana @ Treehouse Herbs

    I'm glad I came across this site! Great tool… The samples looks so awesome.
    It will be lots of fun to try with my older son as well – he'll LOVE it! 🙂

  19. Oh my gosh! I love this technique! Opens up a whole bunch more ideas in my head! Thanks Gelli!! Gotta go find some styrofoam now!

  20. Looks like great fun! I may have to try this with the stack of styrofoam trays I've been saving and the old credit cards, and and and. 😀

  21. Nancy and Jessica

    Incredible, innovative ideas that work so well with so many different types of art. Off to start using this with children. Thanks.

  22. Karen Newman Fridy

    What a fun combination of techniques! Would love to play with a Gelli…so far all of my printing has been on a gelatin plate. Fun, but not lasting…

  23. I have been trying to create Ponderosa Pine bark patterns for a project and this technique is just the ticket! Thanks so much for always being an inspiration.

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