Making your own Gelatin/Glycerin Plate

Printmaking without a press using the new GelliArts Gelli Plate has really taken the interest of the arts & crafts world. You can buy a plate or now simply make one!

Permanent Gelli Printing Plates are made by Gelli Arts — you can order directly from them at gelliarts.com. Or you can order online  from DickBlick.com, Dharma Trading Co., Amazon and locally from Stamp Asylum (Plano) or some Hobby Lobbystores (several locations). — see also http://www.gelliarts.com/pages/retailers

Sizes: Rectangular: 6×6 ($19.99) 8×10 ($29.99) 12×14 ($69.99) Round: 8″ ($27.99) Many more sizes and shapes are now available.

The “gelatin” plate revolution started with homemade gelatin plates using gelatin and water, but they last only a few weeks and must be refrigerated. However, they can be reconstituted by heating and repouring.

For a more “permanent” gelatin plate, various artists have experimented with adding glycerin to the mix.

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Ingredients:

The recipe that Edie Cournover used:

6 T of unflavored gelatin (7 of the small packs)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups glycerin (You can find 6 oz bottles in the CVS skin lotion section & in the Walmart drugs area next to the rubbing alcohol — you need 2 bottles)

Linda Germain has an alternative recipe. http://makemonotypes.com/ (her online course is well worth it in my opinion)

4 oz. unflavored gelatin (4 boxes or 16 packets)
2 – 6 oz bottles of glycerin
1/2 cup COLD WATER
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Equipment:

You can use a rectangular glass pan, one of those clear acrylic frames, or a metal pan or tray. You can also make plates in round shapes or cut fresh ones into geometric shapes or organic forms. If the pan is 9×13, the plate will come out about 1/4 inch thick. Adjust the recipe for larger or smaller sizes or thicker results. Thicker plates are less likely to tear.

Recipe:

First, mix the gelatin and glycerin together thoroughly in a heat-safe container, then added boiling water and stir slowly.  Try not to introduce air into the mix. Alternative: Start with the cold water and 1 bottle of glycerin; stir gently and add glycerin; stir thoroughly and add hot water; stir gently and add remaining glycerin.

Pour the hot melted mixture into a pan — make sure first that everything is level in your setup. Skim the top with a strip of newspaper to remove air bubbles. Let it set. You can also refrigerate the mix until set (a few hours) or put in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. Or just leave it on the counter to cure, since it’s best not to move it until it’s firmer.

To remove the plate from the pan, use your fingers to go around working the gel back from from the edges. After you break that seal, you should be able to peel it from the pan and move it onto a plexiglas plate or whatever you will use as a printing surface. Note: a clear surface lets you place designs underneath to work with — or a paper so that you can gauge pulling prints better.

After curing, if your result is still a little sticky or malformed, you can microwave it (in a glass container) for 3-4 minutes to liquify it, stir it when needed. Then pour it, and let it set again.  Sometimes it needs more or less water. The paint should roll on smoothly, although the very first paint application may not be smooth. You can also redo the melting and resetting if it tears (or just cut it down).

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Results:

In contrast to the gelatin only plate, the gelatin/glycerin plate doesn’t need refrigeration. But it isn’t as permanent as a real Gelli Arts Gelli Plate since it is more fragile and will tear easily, especially if it is thin. You also can’t wash it under the faucet like the tougher plate. You can clean it by spraying with water and wiping with paper towels, or by using baby wipes.

Otherwise printmaking is just the same. After experimenting with acrylic and watercolor, the results are indistinguishable. But I think the homemade plate is slightly “friendlier” to watercolor because the Gelli Arts Plate has mineral oil in it and the homemade version has water.

NOT RECOMMENDED: You can also use rubbing alcohol in the recipe for permanent plate, but it is described as rather smelly. It’s also noxious. If you use that, then DON’T use the microwave process for resetting since alcohol is flammable. For that recipe and more on the process, see the Youtube videos at http://youtu.be/h9taUh073vQ (thefrugalcrafter) and http://youtu.be/Z6BQo63zsvA  (Edie Cournoyer) Linda Germain gelatin plate videos: http://youtu.be/JZgBkBv8y5s

Storing your plate:

I keep and use mine is a plastic box. But you can store yours on a plexiglas plate. Just be sure to use a piece of plastic on top or plastic wrap around it to protect it, especially from evaporation of the water contained in the plate. If it hardens, just reconstitute it as mentioned above. You might have to add a tablespoon or two of water. After some experimentation, I pour mine directly into the plastic box.

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35 thoughts on “Making your own Gelatin/Glycerin Plate”

  1. Thanks for both recipes, Sharon. I made a plate with the first recipe, and it is rather thin, as you say. I have tried to find a slightly smaller, more “squared corner” pan to make another plate, but so far am unsuccessful. My current plate is in the baking pan I cured it in with its own plastic lid. If you should come across a source for a smaller pan, I’d love for you to share it with me!
    Thanks,
    Jackie

    1. I made a recipe for a 9×14 pan which comes out perfect… but after the first set up, you may have to cut it up and melt it down and pour again for a perfect glass like surface, ive noticed that the 2nd melt down is key to getting a perfect surface for some reason… here is a link to my youtube video with my recipe for my 9×14 pan gelli plate… if you dont want to use alcohol, then replace it with more of the glycerine.
      Hope that helps..

  2. I want to see your next video using the gelli plate but I do not know your web site and didn’t get your email address at the end. Thanks.

    1. I haven’t created any videos yet – those are other artists’ videos that I refer you to.

      There are more gelli-oriented videos in these YouTube play lists – click here

      1. I get vegetable glycerin at health food stores and the Vitamin Shoppe. It can also be found in hair care with Afro/curly hair products. Sometimes it’s with natural products or in drug stores with specialty Hispanic brands, like De La Cruz. But, for large amounts, it might be easier to order online. -I’m going to be looking for vegetable gelatin next.

  3. I am wondering if there is a form of very permanent epoxy art like the gelatin art, but would be used to create a desk?

    1. Since the paint used with the gelatin or gelli plate is usually acrylic, you could just use epoxy to cover the print. I don’t really know of an all-in-one.

  4. Olá Sharon, I made the recipe with 16 packets of gelatin, it worked out, just a few bubbles and small pieces of gelatin. I do not use microwaves, could I use to melt the plate on the stove

  5. Hi,
    The recipe calls for 1/2 cup cold water, but never (unless I missed it) told me when or how to add it?
    Thanks! Looking forward to using this.

    1. It’s in the recipe section (the alternative method – mix cold water and glycerin, then add hot water and gelatin).

    1. Two ways to resolve drying too fast — add acrylic medium to the paint before rolling it. That will add a couple of minutes grace. If you need more, use an open or extender medium. Another way is to use a mister. Especially right before you pull a ghost print.

    1. If you refrigerate it, only about an hour or so. At room temperature, give it at least two hours before checking to see if it’s finished gelling for decanting.

      If you make it in the container you’re going to keep it in, you won’t have to decant it and risk tearing it. I use 9×12 clear trapper keepers with lids.

    1. To repair a homemade gel plate: first rip it up, then put it in a glass container, and microwave it for three or four minutes or so until the pieces are melted, stirring if needed. You might want to add a tablespoon of water if it seems thick, since water will evaporate out of the plate. Then pour back into plate container or mold.

    1. Yes, they will work with the Akua inks and the graphic printing inks. Be sure to clean up with baby wipes since the ink won’t dry. You will get best results on absorbent paper. I tried printing on yupo with Akua and it took a year for it to dry.

    1. I haven’t tried it but almost anything with a nonporous surface can be used for printmaking, some with good results. A hot/cold pack surface might be a little uneven.

  6. I used this recipe to make a gelli plate and found it quite easy, except the first time I did it I had a really hard time getting the bubbles out. It worked fine and I’ve used it quite a bit, but I had done it in a round pan and I had just bought a rectangular pan at the dollar store so I wanted to redo it. I cut it up, throw it in a double boiler, (I don’t have a microwave) melted it down and poured it in the pan. As I was looking at all the bubbles I had an idea. I am a resin artist and I use a torch to get the bubbles out of that, so I thought “What the heck!”, and gave it a try. It worked!!! Not a bubble anywhere! Give it a try, it’s REALLY easy. Thanks for a great recipe. 😉

  7. Hi there
    I wonder if you have had a similar experience to me? I’ve made the diy version with the glycerin, gelatin and water but find the finished set plate to get stickier the more times i use it. (I’ve followed Lindsay’s the frugal crafter updated recipe on youtube). The brayer ends up sticky too. I’ve remelted and tried again a few times but always ends up the same. It ends up that sticky that the acrylic paint pulls off the plate and sticks onto the brayer when i try to spread it around. It is very frustrating and I am trying to find a solution that doesn’t involve me scrapping it and buying a genuine gelli plate. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated from you or any of your readers. Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Melanie,
      Did you try adding water when you remelt it? Sounds like the opposite of what you would want to do, but it’s what I do.

  8. Great recipe! thank you for sharing. I made quite a few for my classroom, however I am finding that they mold easily. Any recommendations for that?

    1. Do you keep your plates in covered containers? I haven’t had any trouble after several years and much use. My suggestion is to try remelting and add a little more glycerin and water (after you scrape the mold off). It’s the gelatin component that molds.

  9. I have redone my plate abt 4 times trying get it right! I got it but it sticks to my pans ive used metal glass and put down wax paper! What else?!

    1. Not sure I know the answer to stickiness since I haven’t tried to move mine. I just pour mine in a plastic pan with a lid (a hinged scrapbook case). These homemade plates are sticky when first used and you have to use extra paint to prime them.

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