Hi there! It’s Marsha here today!
One of the most frequently asked questions is ‘What paper is best for Gelli Arts® gel printing?’
The answer: there’s an unlimited array of papers that are great for gel printing!
You can print on anything from computer paper to card stock to fine art printmaking paper to found paper.
Which paper is best depends heavily on your personal preference, your budget and what you intend to do with your prints.
The only paper to avoid is glossy coated paper stock (like photo paper). It can stick to the plate, and it may not come off without damaging the plate’s surface.
Other than that any smooth-surfaced paper that doesn’t fall apart the second it comes in contact with moisture is excellent!
The only way to find the perfect paper (for you) is to try loads of different types.
Especially when you are just getting started with gel printing, the best paper is the paper you can afford to buy in bulk. You’re going to use lots of paper!
Copy paper, economical packs of cardstock and drawing paper, are all good choices.
Smooth-surfaced paper gives a more solid print. Textured paper (cold-pressed watercolour paper, handmade paper, textured cardstock) can result in a more distressed look.
The ideal paper weight is the one you love to work with, and that suits the gel printing technique you want to execute.
I tend to prefer paper, that’s around 200 g/m². Anything more substantial can feel too stiff, and anything lighter may buckle more quickly depending on the quality, finish and the amount of sizing in the paper.
The finish and/or the amount of sizing in the paper determines how (non-)absorbent it is. If the paper is very absorbent, the paint or ink can bleed into the fibres, and printed details can get lost.
It’s not easy to tell you what the pound equivalent of my favourite paper weight is. Grammage per square meter is the same across all types of paper, while the lb also depends on the paper basis you’re dealing with. At the Gelli Arts® headquarters they like to print on 110 lb cardstock.
Heavier paper (cardstock, bristol, mixed media paper, hot-pressed watercolour paper) can handle some wear and tear. It’s excellent for stand-alone prints or for when you intend to add layers of other media on top of your print.
Lightweight paper (deli paper, tissue paper, rice paper) is terrific for removing paint from the plate. It’s also perfect for collage and decoupage.
Sometimes thin paper can stick to the plate. Increase the open time of your paint with a retarder to prevent the paper from sticking and possibly tearing.
Once you’re well into gel plate printing, it’s worth paying attention to the archival quality of paper.
And, if you intend to sell your work, you may also want to look into fine art (printmaking) paper.
However, you don’t have to limit yourself to archival-safe blank paper. It can be fun to print on found paper (book paper, sheet music, paper bags) too.
If the paper is too brittle to handle, you can adhere it to another substrate first, much like faux chine collé.
Don’t rule out coloured or patterned paper either. Metallic paints on dark paper can produce stunning results!
Even the thinnest paper can handle multiple print layers. The key is to allow the paint to dry in between pulls. So keep layering until your happy with the results!
We’d love to hear what your favourite paper for gel printing is. Please share it bellow or tag us on Instagram using #gelliarts and #gelliartsmade. We love to see your work!
Have lots of fun gel printing on lots of different types of paper!
Gelli Arts® Gel Printing Plate 9”x12”
Paper (all cut to A5 size)
Herbs harvested from my garden