Create Stencil Prints inspired by H.N. Werkman with Gelli Arts® by Marsha Valk

Hi there! It’s Marsha here today, sharing how to create gel prints inspired by the stencil prints artist and printmaker H.N. Werkman (1882-1945) created in his attic printmaking studio in Groningen, the Netherlands.

Werkman owned a printing and publishing house. He started painting when his first wife died and joined a group of artists called De Ploeg. He printed their posters, invitations and catalogs and created magazines.

When Werkman’s printing business went bad in the 1920s, he moved his activities to an attic studio above a warehouse and started using his printmaking tools and inks to create art.

These prints eventually evolved into stencil prints. Werkman would use hand-cut stencils, a roller and printmaking inks to create works directly on paper.

Werkman was arrested and executed just before the end of WWII because of his involvement in clandestine anti-nazi publications.

You can use a gel printing plate to create prints with a similar look to Hendrik Werkman’s stencil prints.

The upside to using the gel printing plate is that you can make corrections before you print and use your favorite texture tools if you want.

The downside is that it can take more work to align the layers perfectly. This is where the Gelli Arts® Mini Placement Tool comes in super handy, though, as you can see in the video:

I cut all of my paper to 10″x12″ to fit my 8″x10″ Gelli Arts gel plate + a 1″ border for the Mini Placement Tool. I used the same Simili Japon 130 gsm paper to create the stencils and to print on.

To make sure my sketch (and my stencils) stayed within the boundaries of the gel printing plate, I drew a box slightly smaller than 8″x10″, taking into account the 1″ border that the Mini Placement Tool would add.

You’ll need a stencil for each color section you want to print. You can combine smaller areas on one stencil.

Cut the stencils using your favorite cutting tools. I used a precision knife; however, you can use scissors or a digital cutting machine instead.

Try to print the layers from light to dark: start with the lightest color and end with the darkest if you can. 

In the video, I decided to start with a light green base color. This is optional. You can choose coloured paper too. However, this will make the colors of your print a bit duller, so print on a white background for bright and vibrant colors.

Golden OPEN Paints have a longer open time so that I could pull a ghost print on the second sheet of paper. You may discover that sometimes the ghost print turns out even better than the original print!

Happy stencil printing!



Gelli Arts® Printing Plate 8″x10″

Gelli Arts® Mini Placement Tool


Paper trimmed to 10″x12″ (Simili Japon, 130 gsm)


Lightpad or window

Cutting and measuring equipment

Acrylic paint (Golden OPEN Acrylics)

2″ Brayer

(Baby) wipe


De Vries, A., Van der Spek, J., Sijens, D. & Jansen, M. (Reds.) (2015). H.N. Werkman 1882-1945 Leven en Werk. WBooks.


Michael’s Stores

Blick Art Materials


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