Distressed Gel Print backgrounds

Last week I taught a couple of gel printing classes and had a blast seeing others fall in love with the process and results. As you might imagine I have many prints now, a big box waiting to be used. I thought I would use a few scrappy patchy prints as backgrounds. Some of these prints are ghost prints where I pick up a patchy layer of paint left on the gel print after a more distinct print has been taken. I also have some patchy distressed looking prints taken from a damaged gel plate. I don’t know how the surface got damaged but I still use it as a place to roll out paint before brayering on the main plate or to clean off excess paint after brayering on the main plate. The little dots you see on today’s prints are from imperfections in the damaged plate.

On the print above you can see not only the specks of black paint from the plate but also the leftover paint from the border of the plate. Most gel printers love being able to pick up some of those colourful leftovers on a future print.

Both the print above and the one below were made from excess paint so there is very little defined pattern but instead some lovely specks, blends and blobs.

I chose to make cards from these prints not just because I wanted distressed backgrounds but also because it shows how even the scrappy, incomplete, messy prints can be worth saving.

The only colour on the background print above was some black. I used rustic wilderness, wild honey and frayed burlap archival inks to stamp flowers and grasses from Darkroom Door sets, nature walk and wildflowers vol 2.

The ghost print above was pulled with rice paper. When I stamped the purple flowers in versafine clair they soaked through the paper and spread to give the image a halo surrounding it. Although it was an interesting effect I switched to archival inks for the rest of my stamping as they sit of the surface and dry quickly.

I used similar colours to stamp flowers from DD sets, tall flowers and art de fleur vol 1 over the purple ghost print.

The print above was by far the busiest one I used so a bright contrasting colour seemed like a good idea. I used thistle, wild honey and faded jeans archival inks to stamp flowers from DD sets, nature walk and wildflowers vol 2. I also added some text with a stamp from the nature walk set

To attach the cards to the neenah card bases I used double sided adhesive sheets. I added some black and white paint splatter and Darkroom Door sentiments.

If you have read right to the end you are a champion. If you are a gel printer I hope you are inspired to use a few of those patchy prints you might otherwise discard. I have been using them in my art journals but it is nice to see them on cards too and it’s not as if I am going to run out anytime soon!

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Green Truck in the City

This little green truck card was made on request, and probably not a focal point I would have come up with myself. The end result however made me very happy and all but the kraft buildings and road sign were cut from gel prints.

I could have cut all the components from coloured cardstock but I chose instead to use gel prints and mixed the green and blue paints on the gel plate in order to match the green of the truck requested. I love the added texture a gel print gives. The sky is very textured because it was printed on my damaged gel plate. I use it mainly as a palette where I mix colours or roll off excess paint. I pull prints off it now and again during a session and the patchy blue and white print made a perfect sky. I don’t have a truck die but I did some mods to a van die-cut and ‘ta-da’ I had a little green truck on its way to graduation!

Would this be a good time to mention there are a couple of spaces left in next Friday’s gel printing workshop?

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Dragonfly on text

All the coloured sections of this pretty dragonfly are inlaid between the outlines of the cream die-cut! Does it look the same as if I had just glued the cream die-cut over the top? Yes, I’m afraid it does. Perhaps if gel print had been on cardstock the same thickness as the dragonfly it might have been more noticeable. Lesson learned.

One branch of my current gel printing obsession is image transfer. In the past I have tried it mainly with high contrast photos of people but it works with text as well so I added interest to this blue, gold and red print with some black magazine text. I notice now as I stare at the screen the random line across the panel makes it look a little like an ocean view.

While I was painstakingly inlayaing every little bit of dragonfly wing I was listening to the audio book version of The Salt Path, a memoir with many references to ocean views, cliffs, weather and unexpected encounters. The author and her husband hiked the South West Coast path in the UK in rather traumatic and totally unexpected circumstances. I found the whole account fascinating and heartrending in places. By the end I had google maps open so I could see where the path was taking them.

Once again the photos don’t show the shimmer of the finished project. The sand coloured foreground is actually gold paint so there is shimmer spreading half way up the panel. Can you see why I love gel printing?

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Pods & Wings

The background of today’s card is another gel print featuring a gorgeous Lavinia stencil called ‘pods’. You can’t see in the photos but in real life there is some shimmer on the print as I used silver paint along with blue, green and white.

Over the print I added a green and a white wreath die cut from Penny Black. It is part of the new ‘soaring’ set which also includes four butterflies. The background called for dragonflies rather than butterflies so I die cut three from the ‘flutters’ set, an oldy but a goodie.

As I spent a chunk of time yesterday listening to Ann Voskamp’s book ‘One Thousand Gifts’, the joy sentiment seemed like a good match for the design.

I was watching a Julie Balzer book club discussion on youtube today as I worked and she mentioned how addictive gel printing is and how if you haven’t tried it you must (48 minute mark)! She called it the one tool that has changed her life! So I will again shamelessly plug my upcoming gel printing workshops and hope you will join me in this addiction!

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Snow & Ice

Although most of the ice is now gone, over the last few weeks I have seen it breaking up on the river near our home. The ice that once covered most of the bay cracks and ends up in layers as it breaks, moves and eventually disappears. When I lifted the print above from my gel plate I immediately thought of the cracking ice. It also reminded me of the colours in glaciers, not usually navy blue but I have seen blues and aquas.

Around the time the ice was breaking and melting this snowflake stamp arrived from Darkroom Door so I stamped it on vellum to overlay the background. I really didn’t want to lose much of the background hence the vellum and then a very narrow navy frame and sentiment.

This gel print delighted me, both the colours and the pattern. That’s the fun of gel printing; you never know quite what you will get. I will be sharing a few more gel prints turned into cards and backgrounds over the next few days. In May I will be teaching a couple of gel printing workshops at Crop A While. I’d love to have you join me in making surprising and intriguing prints.

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Circle Flowers journal page

Last week I spent several happy hours gel printing. One of the prints I completed has ended all over this art journal spread. If you are a gel printer you know you can sometimes pull a couple of prints of the same design. The first one is full of colour and pattern and the second is often called a ghost print as it displays outlines and left over bits of paint.

For this journal page I used both the bold blue and green print and the ghost print. The ghost print can be seen on the top left and bottom right corners and is peeping out in a couple of other places. The first print which was very geometrical has been turned into circle flowers. It also had traces of a new stencil called ‘pods’. You will see more of it here on the blog because it is fabulous!

Also in the background you might see some black ink stamping (DD mesh and alphabet medley) and the texture of paste through the DD ‘checkered stencil. The text you see is a fabric tape with dictionary definitions of happiness; it is the first 49 & Market product I have bought and it is going to be handy!

There is plenty of white gesso over the background to pull it together and mute some of the bold elements.

The flowers are all cut with Penny Black ‘abstract flowers’ dies which basically cut slightly wonky circles so I could have cut them myself but why bother when the machine will do it. The print was on rice paper so I could cut a few layers at once. After drawing an edge on each circle with a silver paint pen I stuck a small circle on a larger one, then sewed a cross in the centre with silver thread. There are stems in the set of dies but I doodled mine with a black marker. The blue splatters and pops of pink are from inktense pencils which are coming in handy for art journalling.

I know that was a lot of photos and chit chat but that is the way with some art journal pages especially the collage ones which involve different papers, paints, stencils, and mediums. I probably haven’t mentioned everything I used but if you are still here now I’m sure you’ve heard enough!

If you are in Ottawa and feel like doing a little art journalling of your own, there are still spaces left in my next Art Journal Adventure workshop where we will be creating a watercolour green and leafy spread similar to what you see below. All the details are on the Crop A While website.

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Blue flowers on red gel print

Here is another of my gel prints from last week. When I sit down to write my process for you I get a little confused as to the order I did things. With gel printing you need to do the top layer of the final print first on the plate then layer the background over the top. I don’t list the paints I use for my prints because I end up with many paints over my work surface during a printing session of several different brands. If you are wondering about paints for gel printing, use any acrylics you have and see what you like best.

I imagine I brayered blue paint on the plate first, then pressed the fiddly flower die cuts into the paint, took a print to remove all but the outlines of blue then brayered the orange and red over that. I added texture to the red layer and took the final print, I think. The grid print you see was made by pressing a textured piece of cardstock into the paint on the gel plate. I guess I need to video my process for myself as well as to share with you!

The blue prints were not as distinct as I had hoped; I’ll keep working on that. I do like the shadow flowers though and when I found an outline flower die from Penny Black I stacked two blue layers and added it over the shadows. I like its grunginess, bold colours, shadow flowers and grid texture. And those two odd white dots were made as old paint peeled off the plate. Gel printing is full of delightful surprises.

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Gel printing & a new crafty crush

I had a couple of opportunities to gel print last week and it was, as always, most enjoyable. The prints did not all work out but I have a couple that made me very happy.

Now would be the time to tell you I have a new crafty crush! Not a crafter, a craft company. I have fallen for the beautiful stamps, stencils and papers from Ciao Bella. The stencil I used to create today’s prints is called ‘patchwork’. I bought it because it features eleven different patterns that will be good for adding texture to art journal pages. I had no idea how beautiful it would look when I printed it as a whole! (Both Crop A While and Ecstasy Crafts carry Ciao Bella products; if you shop from Ecstasy make sure you use my link to get there and the discount code heathertecs10 for a 10% discount at checkout.)

I brayered some blues and browns on my gel plate then placed the stencil over the top followed by a piece of paper so I could remove some of the paint. When the first layer was dry I brayered a layer of white over the top and pulled the print. This is only a small section of the stencil but it was the best part of the print. I used adhesive sheets to attach it to the card base then added three Penny Black ‘tall flowers’ die cuts.

I used browns and black for the base of this print then light browns and white for the second layer before pulling the print. (yes I will do a video sometime soon)

The sentiment is from the Darkroom Door ‘long distance’ sentiment stamp.

I have no immediate use for many of the prints but they will go in my collage collection for now because they might come in handy for art journalling.

I taught the first Art Journal Adventure workshop on Saturday and enjoyed it so much. The workshop was held at Crop A While; there are spaces in the Friday workshop this week, March 4, and the Saturday March 12 workshop.

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Crumple & Colour journal page

While creating art journal pages lately I’ve noticed that they often look a bit rubbishy until the end or just before the end! It’s a good thing to keep in mind throughout the process, especially as the process sometimes stretches over a few days.

I started this page while I was at Crop A While and a friend looked over at me and said, “Heather is having fun playing with toilet paper!” For the record I was having fun with tissue paper not toilet paper! Working in the 6″x 6″ Dina Wakley journal I glued crumpled tissue paper over the whole spread with gel medium, scrunching it as I went to make folds and texture over the pages. (it didn’t look at all special at this point)

Later I used my Dr Ph Martin’s hydrus watercolours to drop blue, yellow and red ink over the pages. I worked one ink at a time tilting and diluting the ink so it would spread over and around the crumpled paper. (still underwhelming)

I let the watercolours dry and left the page for several days. The colours were bright and there were some nice blends and patterns but too bright for me so I painted over the spread with white gesso. My aim was not to totally cover the watercolours but to soften their impact and highlight the texture of the paper. I used my fingers to move the paint and a baby wipe to remove it where it was too thick. (looking better but still messy)

Settling on a focal point for an art journal page is sometimes hard; I don’t always begin with one in mind. You won’t be too surprised to see I chose flowers. I have a box of gel printed panels, some on rice paper and some on light card or computer paper. I found several prints on rice paper that matched the colours on the page and doodled flowers and leaves on them with a permanent black marker. I cut them out and started arranging them on the pages. (it was beginning to show promise)

After quite a few rearrangements I glued down the flowers and leaves making sure I didn’t cover up all the yummy colour and texture but also didn’t cover up the important white space. (it was finally looking ok) With the elements in place I continued to doodle more foliage on the pages including a border around the whole spread. I scribbled some thoughts around the flowers then splattered gold paint over the finished pages.

I am very happy with the final result but had no idea it would end up like this. At one point during the process I thought, “hmmm, I don’t think I’ll do this technique again…”

But I will.

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Trees over Gel Print

Sometimes a background scrap can make a whole card. If you have done gel printing you probably know how beautiful the leftover edges can be. As you make print after print, excess paint layers up on the edges of the gel plate. I like to ‘collect’ those edges at the end of a gel printing session by brayering white paint over the top then lifting the whole section onto a last print.

The horizontal lines of blue and green you see here are from cleaning up edges. I thought they looked like the edge of a lake or river so I stamped trees over the top. Even the blue and white paint in the background looks a little like clouds and mountains.

I used tree stamps from Darkroom Door’s ‘Majestic Mountains’ set and Catherine Pooler inks to add to what was already a landscape. I had my gel plate out again yesterday after quite a break and once again saved some textural edges .

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