Category Archives: Techniques

Serendipity Shows The Way

ser·en·dip·i·ty (sĕr′ən-dĭp′ĭ-tē)
n. pl. ser·en·dip·i·ties
1. The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.
2. The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.
3. An instance of making such a discovery.

In my efforts to create “perfect” Gelli Plate prints (no such thing, actually), I’d accumulated many, many duds. Or perhaps I should say they did not turn out quite as expected, but I still kept them for the record, and also because they were actually quite beautiful in their own way.

When I first started out on my Gelli Plate adventures, a couple of months ago, I was meticulous in washing my brayer, brushes, stamps, stencils and the Gelli Plate itself after every change of colour. This meant a lot of time was spent at the sink washing and drying. Handy that my so-called “Studio” is in the kitchen-dining room itself. (My other “Studio” is in the junk spare room, which is currently occupied by a brooding box of baby Japanese Quails).

Nowadays, I don’t clean my tools and implements quite so often. Instead, I employ a technique I’ve seen many Gelli artists use, of “inking off” or “rolling off” i.e the act of removing excess paint from the brayer/dabber/stamp/stencil/Gelli Plate etc by rolling/dabbing/stamping onto another substrate. Some use copy paper or newspaper, which they then throw away. Others use art journal pages, to keep as a record of what colours they’ve used.

I use the same paper as the one I’m printing on. I lay out a sheet to be printed on, onto my work surface, and I also at the same time lay several other sheets of the same quality and size, somewhere close by, to receive the “inking off” or “rolling off”. It keeps the brayer clean by pulling off excess paint, so I can then load up a different colour without getting mud. It cuts down on the time I spend washing things at the kitchen sink, and gives me more time to spend on printing.

After several practice sessions with Gelli Plate printing, it dawned on me that I sometimes liked the results of the “inked off” sheets better than my actual planned prints.

Hmmm…I may be onto something here.

Recently I’ve started to turn my Gelli Plate monoprints into handmade mini Art Journals. You can read about that here. When I found myself short of a page or two, I used one of my “inked off” sheets, and found to my surprise that the results were very, very interesting and exciting.

So, as Serendipity would have it, I now find myself Gelli printing more and more papers, and at the same time having fun “inking off” more papers. I “ink off” both sides of my paper, because I know they’ll be used to make more mini Art Journals, so both sides have to be painted. I’ve also stopped overthinking my designs and I don’t even plan what stencils I’m using next, or where I’m placing them, or even if they’re crooked. I just “go for it”!

I’ve always been fascinated by handmade books, and in the past I’ve dabbled in bookbinding, so making up these mini Art Journals marries my love for 3 things now – Gelli Plate printing, mixed media and bookbinding.

Oh, and add to that Serendipity (I just love happy accidents and randomness) and I’m a very happy bunny! :-)

Here are some of my Serendipity prints:

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Digital + Mixed Media Mashups

I’m really enjoying myself playing with my Gelli plates, both the rectangular one that’s intact and the other which I dissected into 3 round plates of different diameters, 2 small rectangular ones, and a few small triangular and square ones.

My main medium however, is digital photography. What makes me a happy bunny these days is being able to marry the two successfully. Digital + Mixed Media.

I love the possibilities this opens up. Lately I’ve been tearing up my Gelli plate monoprints (yes, really) and turning them into little handmade Art Journals. I wrote about that earlier here (insert link).

Having accumulated quite a lot of Gelli plate prints now, I decided to take photos of them and blend them with other photos on my Samsung Galaxy Note 4. I use mainly just 2 Apps – Photo Blender and Photo Editor. I love those 2 Apps.

Anyway, here are some of my latest Digital + Mixed Media Mashups, as I call them. Hope you like them!

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Artist Inspiration : Karla Mialynne

I can’t draw. Wait! I know someone who can, and amazingly well too. So amazingly good that your jaw will drop when you see her photorealistic/hyperrealistic Art. Don’t believe me? I’ve come late to the party, as usual, but I read on Bored Panda (love that name!) here that because so many people did not believe that Karla actually drew her exquisite artworks, she’s taken to photographing them alongside the actual pencils, pens and markers and paints that were used to create any particular drawing. Which is an excellent idea, as the photos then serve as a visual reference for herself, to remember which colours or type of markmaking tool she used.

Just Google “Karla Mialynne” or simply “Mialynne” and you will find dozens of write-ups about this talented young New York based artist. You can also be one of her over 30000 Instagram followers (@mialynne177). Or follow her blog.

I just want to share with you my favourite Karla Mialynne images, which I found on Google. Enjoy!

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Mini Art Journals from Gelli Prints

So, I’m awash with all these Gelli plate monoprints. I’ve kept the best and my favourites (not necessarily exclusive to each other) for myself, but still there are dozens of prints that did not quite make the cut, but are too pretty to just throw away.

What’s a girl to do?

I know, make some mini art journals. I can then write in them, sell them on eBay and Etsy, give them away, or Abandon them. Hmmm…sounds good to me. Reuse, recycle.

Here we go!

I used my A3 prints. Folded them in half lengthways, tore them rather than used scissors. I like the ragged deckled edge look. Some further folding and tearing later, and et voila! I had enough to make four 10-page mini journals. I used some twine that I’d saved up from parcels received in the post (always one for recycling), and secured the pages together…if I need to add to the pages or change their order, I can simply untie the twine.

Some of the pages had empty spaces near the edges. Others looked a little drab. So I dragged out my stash of Tim Holtz Ranger Distressed Ink Pads and Ranger Dylusions Ink Sprays, and had a field day playing with colour.

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Some photos of individual pages:

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You like? I like!! :-)

Australian-inspired Art using Gelli Plate and Masks

Following on from my previous posts, I now have a set of homemade SEAWEED, WAVY STRIPS and BILLABONG BOULDERS masks.

Take 1 rectangular Gelli Plate, some 190 gsm art paper, masks, acrylic paint and a brayer. Now let’s go make Art!

There are several different techniques used here – brayering, rubbing, masking, stencilling, monoprinting.

I wanted to recreate the colours often associated with Australia and her Aboriginal people – shades of red, orange, yellow.

First, I brayered colour onto art paper. I started with a light yellow, laid out in a line, brayered over that with my 4 inch brayer. Laid on a darker yellow, brayered that, blending the colours a bit. Laid on orange paint, brayered that, then red, brayered. Then I laid a stencil (with lots of bubbly holes!) underneath the paper and brayered over that. The rubbing of the brayer over the stencil under the paper created a subtle effect reminiscent of pebbles.

I made up 4 of these, to use as my backgrounds.

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I brayered blue paint onto my rectangular 8×10 inch Gelli plate, and laid some Wavy Strips masks over the plate.

I pulled a print, then removed the masks from the plate using tweezers, and pulled a “ghost print” onto another prepared background paper.
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The first print.

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The “ghost print”.

I used the same method for the Billabong Boulders masks. On 2 of the background papers, I used my bubbly stencil and a pearly white paint to create and strengthen the illusion of pebbles on the left and right of the composition. On one of the papers I used my Seaweed masks.

Here are the results of my experiments.

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Hmmm…I think perhaps sometimes less is more. I really must try my best not to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, in at the same time. Scale it down, girl, pare it back to basics!

For you have plenty of paint and paper, and tomorrow is another day for playing with them. ;-)

More Mask Making – WAVY STRIPS & BILLABONG BOULDERS

Encouraged by the successful outcome of my first attempt at creating my own stencils/masks, (see post here), I had a go at making more masks.

I’d read about using Tyvek for making stencils, but Tyvek it very expensive, when you can get it. My plastic files from KMart cost me $3 for a packet of 6, and they go a long way.

WAVY STRIPS
The Wavy Strips masks are really simple to do. I just used a pair of scissors and cut strips out of my green plastic file. I took care to make the cuts wavy and some parts wider than others.

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I used up all the green plastic, then found myself left with the clear cover part. So I used duct tape to make a simple envelope to house my Wavy Strips masks in. Neat!

BILLABONG BOULDERS
For these masks, I wanted to recreate geographical contours like hills and also represent billabongs (Australian watering holes), boulders and perhaps hint at Aboriginal Dot Paintings.

Using the same technique as for making WAVY STRIPS, I drew shapes on a blue piece of plastic file, and cut them out. I also used up a clear piece of plastic file, so I ended up with lots of circular shapes that could fit into one another, and little and large pebble or egg shapes too.

Notice I’m not precious about cutting exactly along the lines I drew. Accuracy does not matter when it’s organic shapes you’re creating.

Here are a couple of photos of the clear masks just arranged over black paper.
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Here’s a photo of the blue masks:
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Oh, and I made an envelope for them too, using the clear leftover half of the file.

Coming up next – what I did with these 2 masks. Stay tuned!

DISCOVER (4 templates, 12 ways)

I’ve been spending much of my time lately experimenting with Gelli Plate monoprinting. It’s a lot of fun, and some techniques I’ve tried have come out with pretty amazing results. Others, not so. Some I really love and could keep doing again and again, others I am not so enamoured with and won’t try again. As with all Art, you just have to keep experimenting until you hit on something that appeals to you.

One monoprinting technique I learnt and liked on YouTube is this one, by Clarity Stamp.

I made 4 prints using this technique and some stamps. I really liked the torn paper effect and how it reminded me of ancient, crumbly walls newly discovered by some archaeologists.

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I could’ve just gone on and printed more examples using this torn paper technique. But the mobile digital artist in me piped up and said, “Why don’t you try blending photos of those with other photos from your Samsung Galaxy Note 4? You can use the 4 monoprints as templates and generate an entire series of different artworks, with a common theme”.

This was in keeping with one of my main reasons for venturing down the path of real (vs virtual/digital) mixed media – the idea that I could then accumulate enough source material to use as backgrounds for my digital artwork.

And so, using just 2 Apps – Photo Blender and Photo Editor Editor, I followed the suggestion of my inner voice and created these 12 new images, using just the 4 prints that I’d done.

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Handmade Stencils & Masks

I wanted to make my own stencils and masks, for more Gelli Plate printing fun, so I had a look in KMart for suitable materials. I didn’t want to be splashing out money on a simple piece of plastic that could be gotten anywhere.

And I’m pleased to report that I’ve discovered a really cheap source of stencil blanks. They’re a pack of 6 plastic files, in dark pink, blue and green, plus clear for their covers. At $3 a pack of 6, you can’t go wrong.

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For inspiration, I used the seaweed-like motifs on this wrapping paper.
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I cut out the motifs I liked, then placed them on one of the dark pink files, traced around them with a copper Sharpie (the closest thing to hand), then cut them out.

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Et voila! Simple as a pimple. Handmade stencils. Which can also be used as masks…no, not for your face, but to cover over areas you don’t want to paint over.

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Here’s an example of how I combined the use of my handmade circular Gelli plate with my new Seaweed Stencils/Masks. If you brayer a layer of paint over the Gelli plate, then lay a few of the seaweed stencils over that, and pull a print, the stencils act as masks or resists, leaving you clear unpainted areas.

If you then remove the stencils (using tweezers), and pull another print on a fresh piece of paper, this is what’s called a “ghost” print, and you’ll essentially get the opposite of your first print. Areas that had paint will now be the clear areas, because you pulled that off with your first pull, and where the stencils were will now be paint, which gets stamped onto your fresh paper.

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Here are two examples of a simple, basic “brayer on paint-lay on masks- pull print” technique using a rectangular Gelli Plate. I really like the organic shapes of the masks, they remind me of the botanic-inspired prints of Henri Matisse – see the 2 Matisse examples below:

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Hmmm…I may have subconsciously just tapped into my Muse. This has exciting possibilities!

The Fruits Of My Labour

Well then, April got off on a rocky footing. But I never let a thing such as being bullied by Facebook (see my 2 previous posts) stop me from continuing my daily blog. So here I am, bouncing back like the Easter Bunny. Only sweeter :-).

Now I hear folks asking how my hacked (literally) Gelli Plates are working out. If you’re still in the dark about what this is about, well I performed major surgery on my 8×10 inch Gelli plate the other day, and you can read about that here.

So, to recap, here’s my new Gelli set-up:
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Now to test out the circular Gelli plates, as inspired by a new YouTube video by the inventors of the Gelli plate, Gelli Arts.

Here are my first 3 efforts:

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Very pleased how they’ve turned out, cheerfully childish as they are. Now, hopefully with more practice I’ll improve on technique and composition and someday make something that can be called “Art”.

My Gelli Plate Is No More!

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That’s right. You’re looking at the remains of my 8×10 inch Gelli Plate.

No, I did not chop it up for my dinner last night. No, the dogs did not get to it. The Kid did not destroy it.

I have a confession to make. I did it. With a pair of sharp scissors. In my studio. On the table. But I did not do it in a fit of anger. Rather, I did it in the name of Art because I wanted some round or circular Gelli Plates and they were going to cost me upwards of $35 for a small one. And here I had a nice 8×10 inch rectangular Gelli Plate. Actually, make that 2, because I bought 1 for The Kid. His is still pristine in its clamshell packaging because we’ve been sharing mine.

So, instead of buying a circular Gelli Plate or three, I decided to sacrifice mine and see how many new Gellis I could get out of it.

Use scissors, as due to the wibbly-wobbly nature of the Gelli Plate, it is very difficult to cut it accurately with a knife. Even with the scissors, I found it hard to get a perfectly smooth edge, and so my circular plates have small imperfections.

Which won’t matter in the grand scheme of things, as I now have not 1 Gelli Plate but 15 different pieces of varying shapes and sizes, that I can use as stamps for monoprinting.

Note of caution: only resort to this drastic surgery if you are okay with having some imperfections on your resulting plates. Who knows, you might have a steadier hand than mine, or a better and sharper pair of scissors, and your new plates might come out perfect.

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These are the sweet tins I used to mark my circles. In this photo you can see I’ve already cut out part of the large circle. I feel a song coming on: 🎶🎶🎶Past The Point Of No Return🎶🎶🎶.

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Here’s what I got out of my 8×10 inch Gelli Plate.

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Reassembled back onto its original protective acetate sheet. The Gelli Plate is stored sandwiched between 2 of these acetate sheets, and then in a clamshell case, to avoid drying out.

Coming up next…what printing with these new Gelli Plates and stamps looks like.