Hi, Clara Lieu here! I am an Adjunct Professor at the Rhode Island School of Design,
and a Partner at Art Prof, a free website for learning
visual arts. I’ve worked in printmaking for several decades, but I only
recently discovered gel printing plates at a workshop I took at the
Massachusetts Art Educators Association conference last fall. Getting access to
a professional printmaking press is always a problem for printmakers, so in the
past I could only print monotypes on the rare occasion that I had access to a
When I saw that a gel printing plate could
produce visual effects that were really similar to creating a monotype on
plexiglass with a press, I was beyond thrilled. Since that discovery, I’ve been
experimenting with Gelli Arts® gel printing plates with my high school students at RISD Project Open Door, and in my own studio
Gel printing plates are capable of an infinite
range of visual effects, so when Gelli Arts® provided me with a 16″ x
20″ plate, I couldn’t wait to dig my hands into the surface. I wanted to
take advantage of the large scale of this gel printing plate, and I knew I
wanted to articulate an object from nature that would appear to be beefy and
I’ve always been attracted to root vegetables
like daikon radishes, ginseng roots, beets, and more. This time I chose a
celery root, which has a quirky, bulbous shape with odd “legs” that look like octopus tentacles. My intent was to make the celery root appear massive
and heavy, so I dramatically increased the scale when I created the
The technique I used was a reductive wiping
technique. You can see me applying this technique in this video tutorial.
I applied Akua Intaglio Ink to the gel printing plate with a piece of
cardboard, and then used a brayer to roll an even layer of black ink over the
From there, I used a cotton rag to wipe away
the ink in areas where I wanted highlights in my image. A cotton rag is
incredibly versatile as a tool, you can get very crisp edges with it, but you can
also dab and lift the ink in so many different ways. I used a bristle brush to
touch up a few areas here and there, but the vast majority of the image is
created with the cotton rag.
I printed the plate with Rives BFK, a really
friendly, all-purpose printmaking paper that I’ve relied on for many of my
projects in the past.
The print came out well; I was pleased with the
range of textures and marks in the final piece.
Upon closer inspection, I saw that there were a
few areas where I lifted just a little too much ink, and so consequently, the
shadow areas weren’t quite as dark as I wanted. I went back in with a bristle
brush and added a little more darkness to those areas to deepen the shadows.
Making this print was a great experience. I
can’t wait to see where I will go next with this large-scale gel printing plate!
Gelli Arts® 16”x20” Gel Printing Plate
Sheet of Plexiglass
Akua Intaglio Printmaking Ink
Small Piece of Cardboard
Rives BFK Paper
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Philadelphia, PA All rights reserved.