By Jessica Wilson
As we all know, gelatin has a unique property of being at once delightful to some and repulsive to others. I land somewhere in the middle, I like to play with it but please don’t make me eat it. Years and years ago I took a multimedia class and one of our guest speakers did a presentation on printing from a gelatin plate. I tucked it away in the back of my mind and thought it would be a cool thing to try both for myself and with children. Professional artists use all the fancy tricks of the trade. Here’s a way to do it in your own home using what you may have on hand.
2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin (2 packets)
1 cup hot water
2–3 large plastic lids from yogurt or cookie tubs
Fingerpaint, liquid tempera, or biocolor paint
Flat items like doilies, fabrics scraps, buttons, etc.
Square of fabric slightly larger than your lid
Step 1: Boil the water. While your water is coming to a boil, place your lids onto a baking sheet. If you have a small plate or cookie sheet with a lip you can use that instead of the lid, just make sure the lip is at least 1/2″ thick. Use smaller lids if you have more than one child to entertain; this way they each have their own printing plate. Empty 2 packets of gelatin into your measuring cup and add 1 cup of boiling water. Stir to dissolve. Pour enough of the gelatin mixture to fill the lid(s) without overflowing. Pop it into the fridge for about 10–20 minutes to chill. You can also do this the night before.
Step 2: Remove your lids from the fridge and place them on a mess-friendly surface with your materials at hand. Pour or squirt a small amount of paint onto your lid, gelatin side up. Using your fingers, spread the paint over the surface. You won’t need much paint, less than 1 ounce if you’re using a yogurt lid.
Step 3: Arrange your flat items on top of the paint. Gently drop them on — you won’t need to press hard, the paint and gelatin are sticky enough. If you are using letters of any kind, be sure to place them backwards onto the plate so that they read properly on your print.
Step 4: When you’re finished arranging, place your fabric — right side down — over the lid, and smooth. You can use the back of a spoon or your fingers. The paint will seep through the fabric.
Step 5: Lift off and admire. Set aside to dry. I popped mine into an embroidery hoop. Those darn meringue cookies from Trader Joe’s have a good-sized lid, perfect for an embroidery hoop!
If you want to continue and experiment, simply remove your objects and rinse the gelatin with cool water. You can even keep it cold in the fridge and use again for up to a week. The more you use it, the more it will show wear and tear. If you want to get fancier, invest in some printing inks and brayers and check out the many tutorials you can find online. Happy printing!
About the Author:
Jessica Wilson is most happily known as ‘jek in the box’ and spends most of her time crafting it up and taking pictures. She can often be found standing on benches over on Flickr and creating all sorts of kiddie crafts on her blog scrumdilly-do! She lives a life of scrumdillydilly and loves to share.