Hi there! It’s Marsha here, and today I have a question for you!
Do you remember your first gel print? When did you make it?
A couple of weeks ago, Birgit Koopsen shared the first print she ever posted on her Instagram account in January 2013. And, of course, it made all of us Gelli Arts® brand ambassadors reminisce about our first Gelli® plates and prints.
I remember my first gel print well. I made it during a class in April of 2014. There is no photographic evidence, but that doesn’t matter much because all the students modeled after the teacher, so there wasn’t anything remotely ‘me’ about that print.
The important thing, however, is that after that class, I immediately purchased my first Gelli® plate.
The prints you see above are some of the earliest I made at home.
I remember what I tried to achieve here. I was working on an idea for a project in my sketchbook. So this was never meant as a finished print, and I never meant to share it online.
However, it’s an excellent example of a first step. You never know where that first step might take you!
Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. – Jon Acuff
At the time, I wasn’t convinced that the test print was right for the project I was working on. I thought the brushwork looked silly, and I wasn’t sure how to make it right.
Perhaps I even thought a gel print had to look a certain way, and this wasn’t it.
But now, looking at it, I still remember what I was trying to do. And I can see the potential!
So you may have gathered by now that the gel print is about a city trip to Paris. On that trip, I attended the gel printing class mentioned before, which led me to buy my first Gelli Arts® printing plate. I made the first monoprints in my sketchbook not long after.
The masks I cut for the remake of the print are based on a set of embellishments that my friend Riikka gave me on the last day in Paris, as well as some of the photos I took during the trip.
I often hand-cut my masks and stencils; however, an electronic die-cutting machine can save you time.
Most of the newer devices allow you to upload your own designs, and you can have the machine’s software turn it into a cut file.
So I scanned my hand-cut masks (against a black background), opened them in the Cameo software, traced the images, and let the machine cut them.
The material I used for the stencils is Yupo synthetic paper. I learned about this option from fellow Gelli Arts® team member Tara Axford. If you don’t have Yupo, you can cut them from mylar, laminator pouches, manilla, kraft paper, plain paper and more.
I played around with the masks before settling on a composition. Then I attached all the masks to my printing paper with a repositionable adhesive.
The paint colors I chose are the same colors I used for the original print. This meant I only had to decide where each color would appear on the print.
I love how the print turned out, and past Marsha would have been absolutely thrilled with it!
To conclude this experiment, I would like to stress that there is no right or wrong way of gel printing. A gel print doesn’t need to look a certain way either, and least of all, your first one!
So pull some prints, review the ones you love, and then print some more just like that!
The more prints you pull, the more you know what you do and don’t like. How much paint, how many layers, which colors, which tools. And, if you prefer planning out your print like a puzzle (like me!) or leaving it all to chance.
It’s all good as long as you’re having fun!
So happy gel printing! Remember to tag #GelliArts on social media when you share your summer prints! You can also use #myfirstgelprint if you’d like to share yours with us! We would love to see it!
Handmade masks and stencils
Paper (Bristol, trimmed to 21×21 cm – approx. 8.26″)
Repositionable adhesive (Scrapbook Adhesives E-Z Dots® Repositionable Dots Runner)
Acrylic paint (Royal Talens Amsterdam Persian Rose, Sky Blue Light, Rose Reflex, Decoart Dazzling Metallics Shimmering Silver, ARA Quinacridone Magenta, Neon Yellow)
Electronic die-cutting machine