Gel plate collagraph printing

I recently read an article describing the technique of pressing collagraph plates into an inked gelli plate surface, followed by pulling the print from the gelli plate – not the collagraph. In essence, a transfer print. My normal printing routine involves inking the collagraph base (oil-based inks), applying damp printing paper over the surface and running this through the press.

For these trials I decided to use water-based block printing ink, and as I only own black the remainder had to be acrylic paints. Oil-based printing inks aren’t what I want to use on a fairly delicate gelli plate.

Plate 1

Mountboard backing with very fine silk muslin strips and modelling paste

I thought I would get quite a detailed result from the roughly applied modelling paste and the circles indented into some areas. Wasn’t sure what would happen where the silk strips were laid.

Very disappointing, and this is the better of the two prints I took. The silk fabric sections gave me nothing, whilst the remainder is too formless to even count as a print. My sense is that something with a more defined design might transfer better.

Plate 2

Mountboard base with cotton scrim, cut cardboard and carborundum in glue

Again, not the best but I can see a bit of scope as some detail is evident. Many of the acrylic paints are quite loose, a little runny, and I wonder if the stiffer block-pinting ink is better. Might have been wiser to use the Matisse Structure range instead of the Flow range. But will they dry before I have time to pull the print?

The block-printing ink has done a better job. It remains wet long enough and it’s accepting a good imprint from the printing plate and transfer to paper.

Plate 3

Mountboard base, textured paper, fabric trims, scrim and gel medium. Some cutting into the board.

This print picked up a lot of detail but consistent pressure across the back of the plate when transferring the design to the ink isn’t easy but, overall, not a bad effort.

Again, the addition of the black block-printing ink (to the blue acrylic) gave the media more body creating a thicker ink for the plate to impress, so a better and more even pull has been achieved.

For more reliable and consistent results I prefer my usual method of printing collagraphs with my oil-based inks. Using the gelli plate in this way isn’t at the top of my list to continue with.

Plate 4

I was given a piece of embossed rubber, possibly flooring material but I’m not sure. It has fine cotton mesh on the back and a well defined pattern. So I also tried using that next.

Once the gelli plate was inked up and I’d pressed the rubber into it I realised that I had a good ink transfer onto the rubber so decided to print that first.

Then I turned to the ink remaining on the gelli plate and printed that.

It was interesting exploring the concepts of what I read about on the internet but in my heart I prefer other forms of printmaking.


About Claire B

I am a passionate printmaker, paper maker and book artist. I'm a 'forever' student and frequently attend courses and workshops to extend and improve my creative skills.
This entry was posted in Design Play, My Creative Pieces, My prints and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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