Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Gelli Plate & Monoprinting Basic Tools

Betsy asked about what tools she had to have to monoprint and what tools I use to make designs.

The basic tools you HAVE to have for monoprinting are:

Gelatin or Gelli Plate
Acrylic Paint
Brayer ~ I use a soft roller but you can use whatever you have.
Paper, Fabric, Ephemera, Wood, etc.

That's it...pretty easy list huh?

OPTIONAL TOOLS: These are the extra goodies that you can use to help make designs in your paint for all those fun prints.

Cotton Swabs (Q-tips) - You can use them wet or dry ~ I prefer wet ~ to help "draw" in the can move paint around, pick paint up, add additional colors to the plate, etc.  It really is a very versatile little tool to have on hand.

Found Objects (including Nature items) - This is pretty much anything that doesn't have a sharp edge or that will mar the surface of the plate...

Some of my favorites are drawer liners - these come in all sorts of fun patterns!

Bubble Wrap ~ who doesn't love this stuff.  The fun thing is that there are a couple different sized bubbles to choose from.

Paper Towels!!  Have you ever looked at all the fun designs paper towels have embossed on them?  Well if you haven't looked you really need to.  They are so cheap and so much fun to use....

Spread your layer of paint...

Place your paper towel over the ink and

lift it off.  Don't throw it away, you can use it several times.

And pull a print!
Amazing isn't it...who'd a thunk it...
paper towels!

Silicone Cooking Tools - yes, I know I'm a bit weird but hey, some of those things work great!  My favorite?  The barbecue brush - the little fingers make some way cool impressions and designs in the paint.  One of my favorite prints was made using it....

Ribbon, twill, burlap, fabrics, lace, and so much more.

Nature objects are great to use as favorite by far are leaves.  Of course if it's winter that's not really an option but skeleton leaves work just as well.  Clover, flower petals, feathers, etc.

You can also use any number of crafty tools as well...

Stencils - of course everyone knows you can use stencils on your printing plate.  You can make a print over the top of them, remove them and use the paint that comes away on the stencils and you can also make a print of their impression left on the paint/plate!  It's probably the most widely used tool I've seen.

Texture Combs - These are super for dragging through the paint to create all sorts of fun designs.  Really inexpensive as well which is a plus!

Triangular Comb and 2-Sided Comb

Foam Stamps - There are two different vareities of these babies and both are super when paired with monoprinting.  The first type are those really cheap single image stamps you can find in the paint aisle at the store.  They come in all shapes, sizes, themes, etc.  I love 'em!

I'm not sure if they still sell them or not but for a while foam stamps was extremely popular for scrapbooking...of course I had to have them so I bought several different sets.  Making Memories, Heidi Swapp, Creative Imaginations, etc. all had their own sets out.  Some are black & white foam, others are chunky foam, and even more are foam on clear acrylic. It makes me feel good to be able to pull them back out again and use them.

Tsukineko/Imagine Crafts makes a wonderful tool for drawing, writing, doodling on your plate - Fantastix.  They come in bullet or brush tip and are made from a soft foamy type material.  They are soft enough they won't harm your printing plate but are durable enough to remove the paints and wash up in a jiffy!  These are my favorite tools for drawing patterns.

You can also use clear and rubber stamps but keep in mind that highly detailed stamps don't work very well...the paint usually squishes around and distorts any image the stamp might have made.  Also, you'll want to wash your stamps pretty much immediately so the paint doesn't dry in the cracks and's very difficult to remove once dry.

Clay Texture Plates - These plates are perfect to use for monoprinting but again like rubber stamps you'll want to clean them so you don't have dried paint clogging up your images.

Now you don't have to buy anything to make some fun tools of your own.  Below are two tools I use quite often that I made myself....

The first one is Die-Cut Fun Foam Stamps!  I simply cut fun foam with both my sizzix and thin metal dies (Quickuts, Spellbinders, etc) which I then glued to a piece of clear product packaging.  This is such a fun way to use things you already have in your stash.

I not only used the main image but I also kept the little pieces I removed from the die-cut and glued those down for a random pattern type stamp as well.

These are just a few of the die-cut fun foam stamps I've made....

TIP: If you do make your own you might do what I did...  I mounted my die-cut pieces on a larger than necessary piece of acetate packaging.  After the stamps had dried I bent both edges up to be used as handles!  It will save your sanity....  The first time I used one of my stamps I didn't have these handles but I did have nice little imprints of my finger tips where I tried to peel the stamp off the printing plate!

Fun Foam Edgers - (sorry forgot to take a pic of these) - This is so can take a piece of fun foam and cut it with a pair of deco scissors or an edge cutting die and use it to drag through the paint just like the texture combs!  Each scissor makes such fun and different designs and it's a great way to use more of your stash!

Another fun tool to make is Cardboard Embossed Texture Plates.  Below are a few of my favorites.  To make these plates I took pieces of thin cardboard or cardstock which I covered on both sides with Cold Laminate Film ~ pretty much it's just packing tape (only a little thicker) in large sheets.   Once you have your cardboard covered with the film, run it through your embossing folder and you have 2 texture plates in embossed and debossed image!  

You wouldn't think it by looking at them that they'd work but I'm here to tell you they do!  Some designs transfer to the paint easier than others...the swiss dots doesn't work if your paint layer is too thick but the gears and circles work super with thicker and thinner coats.

These are great too because you can use them to "stamp off" the excess paint onto your Side B prints.   You can also clean them if you're so, not so much but I will eventually...when I have to until then I just use them as they are.

I'm sure there are many many more tools out there that people use with their gelli plates but these are the tools I use most often.  If you have a tool you like to use be sure to add it to the comments below.


  1. Another idea: use paint brushes instead of a brayer to put your paint onto the gelli paint. You can paint any design you want. I thought I had bookmarked a great video to illustrate this, but I can't find it now! Thanks for all of your ideas and info.

  2. So many wonderful ways to use my "old" tools. Thank you so much for all your help!

  3. These are such great ideas! Thanks so much. Love the fun foam stamps.

  4. You can also cut masks our of any thin flat material like paper, acetate, vellum, page protectors etc. Many wonderful videos at the Gelliarts channel on YouTube.

  5. how do i get nice clear edges around the stencils I am using to mask off an area?

  6. Great ideas here, Roni! I just found this!


Thanks for your thoughts and comments!