I have been playing around with a rubbery gel monoprinting plate by Gelli Arts. I learned you cannot use inks with the plate. It is a fun tool for monoprinting by hand, especially for making your own decorative papers. These are the details I have learned so far:
- Stay with acrylic media! The fine particles of watercolour paints and inks are absorbed by the Gelli plate. I used Speedball water-based block printing ink, and it stained the plate very deeply. Using dish liquid detergent and alcohol hand sanitizer gel did not lift the stains. The instructions say to avoid dyes and fabric dyes but do not mention inks specifically. Many inks are acrylic based; it seems natural media that has gum Arabic or fine colorants work their way into the plate. The pigment or colorant in watercolours, inks and dyes seem fine enough to be absorbed by the Gelli plate. I thought the plate was non-porous sheet of silicone rubber. This is not the case. Some of the inks that caused the staining also came out when I was using it later and blended in with the acrylic paints I was printing.
- A drying rack is a huge help. Use a line to hang prints if you have to. I have enjoyed working where there is a drying rack so I can print, let the paper dry and go back to print further layers or color.
- The surface of the Gelli plate is very sensitive. Use a very soft sponge or a piece of t-shirt fabric if you need to rub off dry paint. Even standard paper towels seem to be really rough and leave marks on the surface. Keep the packaging material so you can store your Gelli plate without it getting dented or scratched.
I am having a lot of fun with this tool. I just ran into a learning curve on what I can do and cannot do with it, and some concerns on how to properly maintain my new toy. If you have learned anything interesting, please respond in the comments area.
I came up with a new method for collage or at least a variation on the process which I published here. The intended audience is people within the hacker/maker community and are more likely to have access to laser cutting technology.
If you are enrolled at a college or university and you are not learning how to use current tech in laser cutting and 3-D printing, see if there is an available hackerspace / makerspace in your area. Laser cutting and 3-D equipment was on the campus I graduated from in 2010, in one department and locked behind closed doors, the private playthings of the professors. Students did not even know this equipment existed on campus. Demand education and access to this technology if your campus is missing it or is restricting access to the equipment. Robotics, rap rep [rapid reproduction] and being able to prototype creations on your own are current technologies that a wide range of creative and technical fields are using now. For me, becoming proficient with a laser cutter has opened new doors creatively, has been interesting and a lot of fun.
Share artist trading cards with the world! Here is a zine I made as an animation you can link to, email, tweet and send any way you want. Share the idea of artist trading cards with as many people as you can. Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/1bHjcJy
This less than 2 minute video shows two ways that I used to make hand bound art books using recycled materials for free or cheap.
I made paper for the first art book by pulping the interior pages in a blender, adding some white PVA glue and blue acrylic paint with a dash of glitter. I did not have a proper paper mold screen and used the back of a silkscreen, which made very thick, lumpy paper that took a very long time to dry. If I make paper again, I am going to use a better paper mold that lets more water flow through the mesh.
I skipped making paper for the second book and used acrylics paints and ink with a brayer to change the existing pages. Rolling colors and monoprinting using a glass plate, gelatin or Gelli plate method worked well. I got a nice, thin and fairly even coat of paint on the book pages.
The supplies to get started with book binding are very simple:
- Heavy thread like carpet thread or button thread. Embroidery floss and thin ribbon are also fairly strong and come in many nice shades,
- A large needle to make stitches. I like a heavy needle like a large embroidery type.
- A basic paper awl. If your materials are thin enough, push pins or dressmaker t-pins work.
- Having a bone folder helps to make nice folded edges.
- A block of beeswax is nice; it coats the thread and makes it easier to pull, less likely to fray.
- A jar of YES! Paste Stickflat Glue lasts a long time. It thins with water and works well for all sorts of paper crafting.
- Two marble or granite floor tiles and waxed paper to press things to dry. I bought two 12 inch polished granite floor tiles from a home outlet store for $4 each. If you put some weight on top, it makes a cheap book press.
You could skip inks and acrylic paints and use materials as you find them to make totally recycled / zero cost books. If you are piercing slimmer materials, a cork board push pin works well to make holes. An awl or needle tool works better if you need to make holes in anything more than 1/8 inch thick. I had some wrinkled pages from the paints and adhesive I used, he nice thing about book binding is that you can get starting making things for under $ 10 – although under $20 gives you a better suite of tools.
Also, check out this great bookbinding channel: Sea Lemon. The tutorial videos are great and the creator has a pattern to make a book press using two wooden cutting boards. Jennifer at Sea Lemon has very clear instructions and the videos are great.
I think my favorite part of mail art is being able to have pen pals across a language barrier. You are communicating with people, sending them greetings and content, in images. These are mail art exchanges I have sent out on envelopes. I like to put a matching artwork on paper inside when I have the time to make a set.
Pointillism ala Crayola markers.
Pencil and coloured pencil on buff coloured paper.
I was able to make a quick sketch of some street musicians which I later painted. One woman had a very neutral coloured outfit, so I took the liberty of dressing her in purple. I can’t afford to throw $100 bill in her violin case, so that’s the best way I could give her a nice outfit. The artist who received this painting liked it a great deal.
Twinchies are 2 x 2 inch square artworks. They are similar to inchies except double in size. Trades are usually in sets and some have a theme. These are all prior twinchies that I have mailed to people in mail art trades.
Twinchies made with book pages.
I made a mold of a piece of dragon jewelry I own and made a paper clay cast with the mold. I made it look antique with ink and matched a red crystal to the red text.