Print and Play


So what is this you might ask? The brand name is Gelli and it is a soft, flexible printing block. Very cool, but a little expensive (for the size.)

Years ago when I was teaching printmaking, I used to make baking pans full of clear gelatin to take into school for my students to print on. They were similar to the Gelli, but much larger and MUCH cheaper. The downside was you only had a window of about 2 weeks to use them before they deteriorated. The Gelli blocks are a permanent material and lasts as long as you properly take care of them. I experimented with one recently and got some interesting layered effects.


As you can see above, I just rolled some fabric printing ink onto the Gelli plate and then scraped away some of it with a plastic palette knife.


This gives you an idea of what that looks like printed on fabric.


I used up what was left on the brayer on another piece of fabric and will use it later.


Without cleaning anything off, I rolled out some red ink on the Gelli block. Then I scraped ink off again, and just for fun pressed one of my own stamps into it before I printed the Gelli. I then printed on top of the yellow background.           Blog-March-Q

Lots of interesting layers and textures!

Since I was on the path of discovery here, I cleaned and inked up the Gelli block, now with black ink. Then I pressed my head stamp into the wet, black ink on the Gelli. This allowed me to pick up ink. Now I had to make a decision – print the black inked head stamp on the yellow and red background on the left, or print it elsewhere.


As you can see below I printed the black inked head onto the fabric that I had been rolling extra ink on; then printed the Gelii on top of the yellow/red background. The post printing Gelli printing block is on the right.


Here are my two printing experiments side by side.


So what if you don’t have $$$ for Gelli plates. Here is a cheaper solution from my teaching days.


This is about as cheap as it gets …….. fun foam cut into shapes and glued onto scrap mat board or foam core. Just cut your design out of the fun foam (from the craft store) and glue it onto the boards. (I usually prime the board – not the foam – first with gesso or matte medium, what ever is handy, to make them last through multiple washings.) Ink them with your brayer and print away. Below is a quick sample print I created on some scrap fabric. (The fun foam is the 6 block pattern.)


First I randomly rolled some acrylic paint onto the fabric for a background. Then I inked a vinyl block print of a rose that I had used for a previous project and printed three of those. The purple pattern is my fun foam print – once full strength, then as ghost images. Last I dove into my trove of block prints and found a giant bee. This was printed in gold and later outlined with black fabric marker.


All of these are great ways to have some creative fun.

Go and creative play today!


  1. Diane Brandt
    June 2, 2017

    If only I had 1% of your talent! Interesting article…..

    • Sharon Wall
      June 2, 2017

      Thanks, Diane!

  2. Metedith
    June 2, 2017

    Wow….looking like lots of fun. Do you have a separate studio area? And how is the house clearing out project going?

    • Sharon Wall
      June 2, 2017

      We are finishing up the packing and moving 6/15. The new place has a great studio space for me with a window!!!


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