Tag Archive for 'printmaking'

2016 Kusudama Ornament

And the finished result #robayrekusudama made from #gelliarts printed paper #gelliprinting I'll post more to the blog shortly.

Every year since 2008, Matt and I make a Kusudama ornament. I always reminisce about how the first year I thought we’d make enough to decorate the whole Christmas tree. Two hours later (racing each other the whole time to make as many petals as possible) we had ONE ornament finished and it was the size of a soccer ball. Now, we finally make them ornament sized and only aim to make one a year. We are up to 9, though only 6 of them are small enough to hang from the tree (it took us a while to get the size right).

Making messes

This year, like every year, I wondered “what are we going to make the ornament out of?” The first few years we used old catalogs and magazines. Then for a few years we used origami paper, then wrapping paper and finally last year an old page-a-day calendar. This year it occurred to me that I could MAKE my own paper. I looked at my Color Inspiration board on pinterest and was instantly taken with this picture of a pillow on a chair. So, pinks and rust as a base with pops and accents of color and pattern.

Trimmed down, hand printed papers for our annual kusudama ornament

I printed, double sided, on the paper using my gelli arts plate and hand cut paper stencils, and trimmed down the paper to 3″x3″. It actually worked better than a lot of the other papers we’ve used because with the additional layers of paint, it was that much more sturdy. The origami paper ornaments have a tendency to get banged up corners because the paper is so thin and fragile.

See previous Kusadama ornament posts here

We follow this 2 step tutorial each year.

Gelli Arts Plate and Printmaking

Last week on pinterest I found the above pin via Jodi Hurt for a blog post by JournalGirl about Gelli Art prints.

That pin was all it took. I have fallen down the Gelli Arts printing hole.

Monoprint/Monotype is a printmaking technique where (generally) only one (or at least one unique) print is pulled from a block or plate.  Gelatin printing is a monoprint/monotype technique where you use a gelatin plate (a printing plate basically made of gelatin). Because gelatin plates are biodegradable, animal and water based, they are only good for so long before they start to show wear and dry up. Gelli Arts brand designed and manufactured their product that mimics gelatin, but is mineral oil and polymer based and so it is long lasting.


One of my very first prints pulled from the Gelli Arts Plate.

Between high school and college I have taken tons of printmaking classes and used many techniques, but my experience with monoprints/monotypes were based on maybe a day or two of playing around, printing from a glass plate or gummed and inked up xyrox copy art. Previously, my thoughts on monoprint/monotype was that it was a lesser printmaking technique. “Meh. Should it even really be considered printmaking?” For a few months I’ve been hearing the name Gelli Art and gelli printing bandied about on the internet here and there. It wasn’t until I saw that pin that I thought “I should really look into this” By the end of the day I had literally read everything I could find and watched hours and hours of videos of people printing with their Gelli Arts plate. You can buy the Gelli Art plates online and from Dick Blick stores. They are relatively inexpensive, the medium sized plate is $30 and 8″x10″ in size. My sister was kind enough to pick up a plate for me from the Dick Blick near her and I had my plate in my greedy little fingers the very next day. I have been obsessed, spending hours every day working on it ever since. I love how it could be used for crafting or for fine art. As I said before, there are tons of videos online. I also signed up for the Carla Sonheim class (a week’s worth of private blog posts and videos for only $25). Spending so much time working on it I realized that it feels more like painting than printmaking and reminded me a lot of when I’ve done wheel thrown pottery because there are so many factors all needing to be juggled at once. With pottery it’s the composition (wet, dry, fiber, etc.) of the clay, the centering, the position and balance of your legs, arms, and hands as well as the motion you make with your hands dependent on the speed of the wheel. With the gelli prints it’s color, layers, composition (format), as well as texture and weight of paper, texture and fluidity of the paints, layers and transparencies of layers, speed in which you work (paint drying on plate), pressure you apply while transferring your image, ghosting from previous layers showing up on a second pull or even newly inked plate, not to forget textures added from other surfaces, or printing through stencils.
Today I worked on 8 pieces simultaneously according to the Carla Sonheim course. I think that was just too many for me. I should have only worried about 4 at a time. This is the only piece that I liked so far. The rest I can keep working on.
The lone print I liked from the series of 8

The second and third day I was working I got a little frustrated with how many pieces I was working on that I did not like. I had to remind myself that I was just starting out and learning a lot. Ideally, I’d want every piece to be perfect and amazing and in general I feel like I have a very high percentage of success with artwork. But with these gelli prints, I did 8 pieces and only liked 1. I was really disappointed, but was glad for the Carla Sonheim class because she really emphasized that you can keep adding layers and adjusting pieces until you like them or offered up a whole slew of alternative options for your failed prints. My favorite was to make them into art journals. There’s a little video you can see here with another artist doing the exact same thing. Right away I was almost more excited about turning those 7 failed prints into a book, than I was into reworking them.

I'm learning a lot and figuring out what works for me with #gelliarts.

I was finally getting into the swing of things

The next day I started working on 4 new pieces, as well as adding to the back sides of the previous 7 pieces. I don’t know if I had a breakthrough, started learning more what worked for me and/or switched to right brain thinking/art flow, but I suddenly got in the groove and was really pleased with more and more of the pieces I was working on. I think I had watched too many videos and had so many techniques, styles and ideas from other artists swimming through my head. I just needed to experiment on my own and break away from those to think creatively for my own work, rather than thinking “try this like so and so did”.

7.22.13 monoprint

Loving more and more of my pieces, the more I work with this technique.

All the same I do recommend looking at the videos online if you are interested in monoprinting/monotyping with a gelatin plate. So many techniques never would have occurred to me if I hadn’t seen it online first. Doing a simple youtube search for gelatin or gelli prints will provide plenty of results. I also highly recommend checking out Jodi’s pinterest board for Monoprinting, there are tons of great articles, videos and resources. edit to add another great pinterest board by Lelainia Lloyd (tattered Edge) Pinterest I love you!

Working on a stencil that will take a while

A lot of the videos use stencils for texture and I don’t have any so I’ve been enjoying cutting out paper stencils and masks.

I know I need one more art medium to work in, like I need a hole in my head, but I’m really enjoying monoprinting/monotyping. Any time I brush off a certain medium, it’s almost guaranteed that down the road I’m going to eat crow about it. Mixed media was for chumps, collage was a joke and monoprinting/monotyping was a waste of time, now I love all three. I’m sure I will be back with more pieces to share soon.

Edit to add links to two other posts:

A Little Art Book I made from collaged gelli prints

Paper Stencil Stacks

A Letter to Myself

2.11 teenager
Dear Teenage Robyn,

I know you won’t believe it, but as an adult you will have:

Day 9 - Me in my studio
Your very own studio, in your very own house

with plenty of art supplies to go in it!

The Story of A Yarn
A spinning wheel to make your own yarn,

2.11 Dr Buttons
a button maker,

2.11 zutter
a spiral book binder,

12.4.10 gold and silver garland4
sewing machine,

2.11 silkscreens
plenty of silk screens (that you built! I know you don’t even know that is possible coming from using commercial screens in high school)

2.11 capsule machine
a gumball machine filled with your own handmade items

etsy shop
And an online store where you can sell the things you make!

Being an adult is AWESOME!

Day 23 – New Stamp

After creating my little balloon head stamps the other day I had the idea for another stamp. The design is a reproduction of my grass quote paintings and prints.

I thought it would be cool to carve the stamp, leaving the center blank so I could draw in new quotes. I originally planned that they would just be little prints, but then with all my sticker graffiti stuff, I thought it would be really cool to turn them into stickers as well. I’m still ironing out kinks in how to print them. Even though I took 5 printmaking classes in college, we never worked with this linocut shtuff. In my Relief Printmaking class we only carved and printed from woodblocks, so this stuff is really new to me. I never even did it when I was in elementary school, which I’ve heard was a common art project for a lot of people. When I made the really tiny balloonhead stamps, using a stamp pad worked fine, but I don’t know if it is because I’m running low on ink or because of the linocut material isn’t really made for ink pads, but I could never get a solid print. I had to resort to using real printmaking ink, glass plate, roller and the whole nine yards which I still had from my college years. Of course I don’t have a press, so I just had to press the stamp and burnish. I originally had the linocut mounted on a woodblock, but then realized I probably need a padding to go between the relief and the wood so I took it off. I really don’t want to have to mess with all the chemical ink again for this simple piece, so I’m going to get a fresh ink pad and hope that works better.

You can see in the top image that the ink is still wet so I couldn’t draw in any quotes yet. I also watercolored the background green, to continue the theme. This was a fun project. When I post again about my sticker graffiti pieces, hopefully there will be some of these as well.

On My Desk

Inspired by Rosa’s most recent post “On My Desk”, I’m posting some recent camera phone pics from my own work table in my studio.

Here’s a little sneak peek at Grass & Stars No. 2


And some paper spiral stratum pendants.

And I’ve been cutting out bajillions of envelopes in the last few days, for my repurposed envelope and stationery sets.

I had an order for one of these button sets earlier this week, so I decided to make a whole bunch more. I got through them a lot because I personally wear them on everything, give them to friends and occasionally give one as an extra here or there in Etsy orders.