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Gelli Plate Making Day 1

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

A fellow artist talked excitedly about trying monoprinting using Gelli plates.

Being the consummate explorer and “art supply junkie” I could hardly wait to get a plate and try it out. They are available from several suppliers and range in price from $20 to about $80 but there isn’t an art supply store within an hour’s drive so I decided to try making my own.

After exploring my options, I settled on two methods that seemed to be relatively simple and should make plates that are not supposed to rot, mildew, and disintegrate. They become plastic.

Chemical Materials are readily available at your local pharmacy or grocery store.

You will require 1 Tablespoon of Gelatin (ie. KNOX —- not Jello) per cup of liquid that you use.

Glycerin (the most expensive of the ingredients)

Isoproyl alcohol ( I used the 90% USP)

Gather together before you start.

A flat bottom container (glass or plastic) to pour the Gelli in to set (I used two Pyrex casserole dishes, one about 6 x 8 and the other 8 x 8 inches) and decided to try two methods. I think that you could use a Styrofoam tray but haven’t tried it yet.

A measuring cup – preferable large enough to hold the total quantity of the recipe ( I had a 4 cup measuring cup)

Measuring spoons if you buy gelatin in bulk but, if not, the KNOX packages contain 1 Tablespoon in each packet.

Kettle to boil water

Spoon for stirring.

If your container is a different size you can pour water to about ¾ inch depth into your chosen container and measure how much liquid it will take to make your Gelli and adjust the quantities to fit. Dump it out.

Basically the recipes are half water and half chemicals so it’s not difficult to calculate.

I’ll let you know how things turn out when I unmould them .

First Gelli Recipe (for the 6 x 8 inch dish)

Pour into large measuring cup

1/2 cup glycerin

1/2 cup alcohol

Add: 4 Tablespoons gelatin ( I used 5 because I spilled some) and stir well

Add: 1 cup boiling water and stir more to further dissolve the gelatin

Pour into your container.

Put in to refrigerator for several hours to set.

This one smells strongly of the alcohol so I emptied the refrigerator (I have a small one in the studio) before putting it in to set, but it is less expensive to make. The glycerin is quite a bit more costly than the alcohol. If it is cold in your area I’d be tempted to set it in the garage as long as it doesn’t freeze.

Second Recipe (for the 8 x 8 inch dish)

I ½ cups glycerin

Stir in 7 packets Gelatin

Add 1 ½ cups boiling water

Stir some more.

Pour into the container and refrigerate for several hours until set.

Smells fine so I didn’t worry about what else might be in the refrigerator.

Mine had bubbles on the top (doing it again I’d bump the pan like you would cake batter, to rid the solution of the bubbles).

Bonus – if it is uneven or the surface scars with use , you can nuke it for about a minute to melt the surface and reset it. But don’t forget to put it back in to the original container so that it retains its shape.

Later the same day ——————-

Well – I just checked the refreigerator. It’s about 3 hours since I put the Gellies it to set.

The one with the alcohol is beautifully clear and solid. I could remove it from the mould now but don’t have the time at the moment and it won’t hurt if I leave them until tomorrow.

The one made with glycerin only, has small bubbles all over the top of it and is not as solid yet. I did stir it more than the first one to dissolve the gelatin. It is bit thicker than the first one, and in a larger container, so that may be why it is taking longer to solidify. I assume that the bubbles will stay so I may have to melt it a bit in the microwave to smooth it out. I didn’t see any foam when I poured it so they must have risen to the surface on sitting. Sort of like cake batter.

I’ll leave them for a while longer since we are invited to drop in to Ukranian Xmas celebration at a neighbour’s.

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