Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Intaglio-Inspired Gelli Printing

See how you can achieve an intaglio effect — without a press! — using a styrofoam
printing plate, a ballpoint pen, acrylic paint … and a Gelli plate!


Intaglio (pronounced in-TAL-ee-oh) is a printmaking process using a plate that has been inscribed or etched. Ink is applied to the plate and pushed into the grooves. The plate is then carefully wiped to remove the ink from its surface, so that ink remains only in the incised areas. When the plate is put through a press, the high pressure pushes the paper into the grooves and transfers the ink to create an intaglio print.

We’re taking the basic concept of intaglio and adapting it to Gelli printing! With the Gelli plate, there's no need for a press! You won't have to meticulously wipe the plate for printing :) And there’s no need for special inks — acrylic paint works just fine!

Follow these step-by-step instructions for creating an intaglio effect:

1. Use a ballpoint pen (or pencil or stylus) to inscribe a design into a styrofoam printing plate.

TIP: Once the styrofoam plate is ready, I like to stick it onto a piece of Press ‘n Seal (food wrap) to keep the back of the plate clean. Doing this is not essential to the printing process. But it keeps things from getting messy :)

2. Apply a generous amount of acrylic paint to the styrofoam plate.

3. Use a squeegee to spread paint across the foam plate. Make sure the paint is pushed down into the incised lines — while the surface is wiped as clean as possible.
Note: An old credit card or piece of mat board will work as a squeegee.

TIP: After you squeegee the paint onto the foam plate, you can roll the surface with a brayer. And instead of wiping the plate to remove surface paint — just pull a relief print! To do this — quickly cover the plate with a piece of paper and rub — and pull a print! The image in a relief print is reversed.

4. Flip the styrofoam plate onto the Gelli plate, paint-side down — and roll over the back of the plate with a clean brayer. The paint in the grooves will transfer to the gel plate. Remove the foam plate.

5. Cover the gel plate with your printing paper. Rub to transfer the paint — then pull your print.

Good things to know:

One of the wonderful benefits of this technique is that the final print is right-reading! That means the printed image is not reversed — and written words will read exactly as you wrote them :)
  • The styrofoam plate is durable, so you can use your image over and over!
  • Perfect for printing fabulous art journal template pages — creating lines and spaces — and you can work back into your prints!
  • If you are working in layers, try an intaglio layer as your last one. That will give you a line drawing over a background image!
  • Clean styrofoam food trays and plates will work for this technique! What a great way to upcycle those products :)
Foam printing plates, like those seen in this video, are available at Dick Blick, Daniel Smith, and many other art supply retailers.

Intaglio-inspired Gelli print (black lines) —
embellished with Distress Stains, Inktense pencils, Neocolor II crayons,
rubber stamps and collage.



Happy Printing!!

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