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Gelli Plate Printing – How to Start With This Addictive Technique

Prints made with gelli plate

gelli plate printing supplies

Gelli Plate Printing is Where it’s at. Yo.

We’re going to go deep with Gelli plates here today. These flabby, gelatinous slabs of amazingness have stolen my heart, and the hearts of many other artists and creative folks I know.

I think the fact that they are so versatile and beg for experimentation is what draws us to them.

On top of that, you can get some really cool, unexpected results from just switching up the tools and techniques you try with the Gelli plates, and pretty soon 3 hours have flown by and you have 1000 prints drying all over your home.

Let’s start with the basics:

What is a Gelli plate?

  • A Gelli plate is a clear gelatinous slab that you roll acrylic paint onto and use to pull prints from.
  • You can use a handmade Gelli plate or a commercial plate.
  • Use any brand acrylic paints, fluid or thick, for different results.
  • You can incorporate different tools and techniques to get even more variations.

The paint glides easily across the surface of the Gelli plate when it is rolled (or brushed) on, and then transfers easily to the surface of whatever paper you are printing onto.

Pre-made Gelli plates come in a variety of sizes, and the homemade ones are limited to the sizes of whatever clean metal or glass baking pans you happen to have.

gelli plate
Gelli plate with rolled paint on it.

How do you use a Gelli plate?

The simplest way to use a Gelli plate is to roll acrylic paint across the surface of the plate with a brayer.

You can keep rolling back and forth to get an even layer, or let some of the brayer lines show on the plate. You then employ all sorts of techniques to get the results you want.

Some Gelli printing techniques include:

  • wiping or dabbing away areas of paint
  • laying paper or other objects over parts of the paint to act as ‘resists’
  • rolling paint over a stencil laid on the Gelli plate
  • Painterly prints- use the Gelli plate as your canvas, paint all over it, then make a print of your painting
  • Pouring or dripping paint onto the Gelli plate
  • line monoprints- where you draw into the rolled paint with a blunt tool, then make a print of that

Aaaaaand about a million more techniques, including some Gelli plate ideas I wrote about previously.

Gelli plate prints

Tools for Gelli plate printing

I use and recommend Speedball brayers to roll paint across the surface of the Gelli plates. Make sure you have plenty of paper towels and baby wipes (or a cloth and spray bottle of water) on hand to clean up the plates at the end of printing.

Use any heavyweight papers including card stock, smooth watercolor paper, and even Rives BFK printing paper (my all-time favorite)

Grab a bunch of random flat or textured objects to experiment with:

  • stencils
  • leaves
  • lace
  • doilies
  • crumpled paper towels
  • sponges
  • techniques

Really, anything you can find that can either press texture into your paint or block off areas of paint can be used to get great effects. You need to be semi-gentle with it so it doesn’t puncture or tear, but it does have some give and will stand up to a lot of random weird objects you’ll find around your house to experiment with. 🙂

How do you clean a Gelli plate?

Bonus time! You don’t need any harsh, nasty chemicals to clean a Gelli plate. Simply use water and/or baby wipes to wipe the surface of your plate clean.

Let it dry and then store it either in the plastic clamshell packaging it came in or between 2 pieces of heavy stencil plastic.

You can use mild dish soap with the water on your plate, and I’ve also heard you can get stains out of the plate with hand sanitizer gel, but I haven’t tried this yet.

I usually wipe mine down with baby wipes between prints, and then give it a good final rinse-off in the kitchen sink when I’m through printing for the day.

gel printing plate

Making Your Own Gelli Plate


  • 1.5 cups (12 oz) liquid glycerin
  • 7 packets Knox unflavored gelatin
  • 1.5 cups boiling water
  • square 8×8 or 9×9 pan


  • Put glycerin into a glass bowl
  • Sprinkle the gelatin over the glycerin and mix them together
  • Pour the boiling water into the mixture and stir slowly
  • Pour the whole mixture into a pan and lightly touch any air bubbles that form on the surface with your finger to pop them
  • Let it set up for a few hours
  • Gently slide a sharp knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the plate
  • Very carefully invert it to release it from the pan
  • Store between thick pieces of stencil plastic (plastic wrap will leave textured lines in the surface of the plate)

* Apparently if your plate splits or breaks when you remove it from the pan, you can microwave the pieces in a glass bowl for about 2 minutes and re-pour it!

You don’t need to refrigerate this plate because of the glycerin, which acts as a preservative.

Here is my experience with making Gelli plates: while they are much cheaper to make than to buy, I totally prefer my Gelli Arts plate. In fact I LOVE IT so much I actually did marry it.

It’s crystal clear, stores nicely in the plastic package it came in, is lasting me a long time so far, and is smooth and wonderful.

I recommend you make your own if you aren’t sure if you’ll even like Gelli printing, or if you have a whole classroom you’re wanting to try Gelli printing with.

Or, as I did, just because it’s fun to try.

Prints made with gelli plate

What is a monoprint?

Gelli prints are used to make monoprints, which means you are making a single print, instead of multiples like in most printmaking techniques.

After you pull the first print from your Gelli plate, there will be some paint left on the surface, which can be wiped away or incorporated into your next print. this is where some magical stuff happens!

What is Gelli art?

Gelli art is a print made by using a gel printing plate. Gelli Arts is a company that makes commercial Gelli plates. Ooh- I just did a little poking around, and Speedball is making them now, too.

So is some company I’ve never heard of called Gel Press. Hmmmmmm.

I have a Gelli Arts plate and adore it love it like I previously mentioned. You can find out more about Gelli Arts here, or check out some of their products here.

Acrylic Paints for Gelli Printing

You can use any acrylics, from liquid to the really thick, professional kinds of stuff. You can even use nasty old craft acrylics; I’ve used all of these paints, and they all work well on the plates.

Cheaper Craft Paints

Liquitex has an awesome set of acrylic basics that I use often on my Gelli; just water them down a little bit (which also gives you more paint for your buck. Bonus.)

Craft acrylics have a good supply of these on hand. They work great with the Gelli and they are cheap and pre-mixed lovely colors.

My opening photo uses Blick matte acrylics, and here are Apple Barrel , which is perfect and beautiful and wonderful for using on your Gelli.

Professional Grade Paints

Fluid acrylics are great for pouring or splattering, or a thinner paint layer

Heavy body acrylics are buttery, thicker, but should also be thinned down with water when you are using them with a Gelli plate – they tend to be so thick that when you roll them out, they are tacky and the brayer leaves weird ‘peaks’ in the paint. (These are what I use for my very textural paintings.)

Open acrylics dry slowly, (similar to oil paints) so they are good if you want to mix up more paint and store it for future use, or you work slowly and may be more detailed on your plate and don’t want the paint to dry before you’ve had a chance to pull a print.

If you are new to this and want me to just go ahead and tell you what to buy, already, I would try either of the paints below.

One is by the makers of the Gelli plate, cheaper, pre-mixed lovely colors -great for art journal pages, kid art, general experimentation.

The other is by Golden paints and is high-flow acrylics. You’ll have to mix up your own colors, and they’re more expensive, so these are better if you are looking to make art pieces from your prints:

 Gelli Arts Acrylic Paints Set (Bright Colors)Check it out on Amazon Golden High Flow Set of 10Check it Out on Blick Golden High Flow Acrylic, Assorted 10 Color SetCheck it Out on Amazon

Carolyn Dube did some experimentation with different types of acrylic paint on Gelli if you want to see her results.

Gelli prints

What is a ghost print?

Ghost prints are haunted prints that will try to kill you in your sleep and then you need to probably hire an exorcist.

Or, maybe ghost prints are simply prints made after your first pull, using the paint that is leftover on the gel plate.

Sometimes, ghost prints are the prints you end up loving more than the first print, and sometimes they are great starters for other artwork, backgrounds for art journals, etc.

Where to buy Gelli Printing Materials

More Gelli Printing Resources

Videos – Um. Here is an endless supply of Gelli printing videos for you. Don’t forget to stop watching at some point and make some prints…

Books – this book is a great resource for Gelli printing ideas:

Gelli Plate printing

Gelli plate Class

Gelli Plate Printmaking | Carla SonheimCarla Sonheim this looks SO GOOD.

gelli plate printing
Gelli plate prints

What do you think?

Written by Joanne Gonzales

Joanne Gonzales has a passion for getting creative. Whether she is making personalized DIY gifts or taking part in larger arts and crafts projects, she puts her all into making new and beautiful things.

She lives with a group of close friends and believes in the natural way of life. Joanne has built an outdoor arts and crafts gallery that overlooks the countryside in her hometown, which is where all of her creations come to life.

Art started off as a hobby, but over time Joanne has mastered her skills and sold some of her favorite pieces. She works full time as a florist and has done for many years. It helps keep her creative juices flowing and she hopes to one day open her own florist shop with a twist.


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