Do you ever get that itch to just play around with your art supplies? No project in mind. No need to actually finish anything. Of course you do.
Most of the time when I’m in my craft space, I spend my time making a specific project. I haven’t had very much free time lately, so I usually complete projects or pieces that have been assigned to me. I grab only the supplies I need, get to work, and then pack everything away when I’m done.
When the new Ranger Gel Plates landed on my desk, I was excited. Many years ago, I spent hours making my own gelatin so I could practice making my own prints. What I loved most about making prints is that I didn’t need to have an end goal. In fact, it was hard to even predict the outcome of my art-making. In fact, that’s what was so fun about it. I didn’t know what I had created until I pulled the paper back to take a look. So, did I want to play with the new gel plates? Heck yeah!
If you haven’t used a gel plate before, it’s really simple. All you need is a clean work surface, a brayer, some texture tools, acrylic paint, and paper. Choose a color of paint or two and use a brayer to smooth it over your plate. I usually keep old book text or a paper scrap nearby to clean my brayer off. I save these papers for collage fodder. You can either use a texture tool to draw a design in the paint, or place stencils down on top of the plate, and then press your paper on top of everything. I like to use my brayer to smooth the paper down, ensuring that a lot of the paint and design will be picked up. Remove your stencil and clean. On the printing plate, you will be left with what’s considered a ghost print, which is just your same design, but with less paint. You can use this to make an additional print on another piece of paper, or you can clean the plate. Continue adding paint and stencils/designs until you are satisfied with your print.
As much as I love making these prints, I never really know what to do with them. And I have to admit, sometimes they just don’t look very good when I’m done with them. So, when I’m done creating the prints, I will usually cut them into small pieces. I like doing this at random and seeing what each piece looks like because they’re always very different. I keep these in a box to use in later projects. That’s why I love gel plates so much; I don’t technically have to make anything. I just get to play around with my favorite shades of paint and see what happens.
I like “cleaning” my stencils off on old book text. To do this, I just place the wet stencil on a book page and go over it with a brayer until all the paint has transferred onto the text. It makes for really interesting backgrounds and layers.