Featured post

Copyright for all text and images @bellabow.studio

Sign writing is so difficult!

Painting is sometimes practical! Here's a sign that I've just finished for bottom of the garden. I bought a Coffee Shop sign a while ago and as it was metal I thought it would be great outside. What I didn't know was that the underlying picture was on paper and not only faded in the sunshine, but was eaten by snails!!! Gradually it disappeared and in a fit of make-do-and-mend, I thought it would be easy to paint another.

A lesson learned. Sign writing is a huge art, and it's not for me. Still from a distance, it's ok - right?!

How to - Gelli print card making, using an XCut machine

Cards are nice things to make as they are fairly quick and ultimately useful. These cards were made as an experiment to see how much detail you could print from a gelli plate using acrylic paint and stencils cut from an XCut (or any die cut machine)

Here's a how-to in case you'd like to try something similar.

First of all, you need to cut your stencils out of paper (card, fabric etc would be too thick for printing from, but you could also use a very thin plastic of some sort. I used printer paper).

The die I'm using is a bee with quite intricate wings. I'm using a sheet of waxed paper over the top of it and then the printing paper. This helps the die to release the paper and it's fiddly bits more easily.

I've set the machine to 4.5, but you may need to experiment with the settings to see what makes a good cut for the die you're using.

The die has cut the shapes and I've carefully peeled them apart and put to one side. As you can see the paper left behind from the cutting is also useful for printing through, so don't throw it away!


You're now ready to print

You'll need some background papers to add to the insides of your cards, so step 1:

Choose your colours. I'm using Open acrylic paints. This means they don't dry as quickly as normal acrylics - almost essential I'd say.

Put a little on your gelli plate and roller over with a brayer to cover the entire plate.

Put a piece of paper over the gelli plate and press and smooth over the surface. Lift the paper and leave to dry.

Do this several times replenishing your gelli plate with fresh paint for each print.

Don't worry about taking a second print (a ghost print) on this occasion as you need good strong colour.

Leave your papers to dry thoroughly.

Now go through the same process with your card stock. I didn't add any texture to the plate at this stage.

The results of the rollered paint are quite lovely and happen naturally. Keep going with the printing and replenish the paint on the gelli plate for each card.

Leave to dry.


Overprinting - now for some texture

Now we can overprint to add interest and texture. Roller paint colours onto your plate. At this stage I'm changing to green gold, yellow ochre and white.

I've pressed a wooden stamp onto the wet paint, to leave an impression. I also went on to add other stamps and pressed stencils into the wet paint.

As your stamp will be wet from the gelli plate, why not add it to one of those printed sheets of paper you've made?

After creating some texture, gently place the paper cut outs from your die cutter over the surface. No need to press. I've added some cup cake stencils that I cut at the same time as the bees.

Gently position your painted card over the stencil, and gently press. Rub softly. Lift and remove any paper stencils that may have stuck to your card. They can be used again if you're careful.

Just carry on printing, replenishing the gelli print for every card. In between printing the cards you could take a ghost print onto paper if you want. (Lay a piece of paper over the gelli plate with stencils that you've just printed from, and press firmly. You should get a second print)

Here's mine all done.

When everything is dry you can embellish - it's difficult to see but I've added glitter to the cup cakes. I've also made the inside cover a bit more interesting by using acrylic gel to stick on some of the printed papers. This is useful if you've been a bit messy and splashed the paint around a bit!

Some of the bees!

 Inside the cards

A couple more gelli-fish

A couple more collages of gelli plate prints of fish. These were very quick and easy to do and I had great fun. 

Gelli plate printing - 3 fishes

A while back I watched a youtube video on monoprinting with a fish. I wanted to try a similar idea, and here's the processes I went through.


I have a gelli plate, and a simple cut out shape of a fish. This is easy to draw and you need one that will fit your gelli plate.

I have a roller and some Open acrylic paint - I'm using titanium white, raw umber, prussian blue, and gold green.

I also have some soft gel medium but that's for gluing the finished prints together at the end.

The first layers are about getting texture onto your plate and then taking a print. These prints are the backgrounds so you can go as mad as you like!

As you can see, I'm using stencils to press colour onto the plate. Use edges of the stencils, and press on 2 or 3 times to get a textural feel. You don't really need a good print of the stencil, just bits and bobs.

Take a print. It's a good idea to put a small pencil mark on the back of the paper just so you know where the corners are, in case you want to overprint. You can then align with ease!

Peel the paper off and don't add anything to the plate but take another with a lighter weight paper. This is known as a ghost print.

Ink up the plate again using your roller. I've chosen white paint this time. Put your fish cut out over the paint.

Use one of your background prints, and lay it over the fish and press.

Here's what happens! Very exciting.

This time I've inked up the plate with prussian blue and a touch of black. I've dropped some embroidery thread on to the paint.

Then I've added the fish again, and taken a print using one of my background prints again.

Here's the result. See how the background colours come through where you've masked with string and paper cut out.

Continue printing and over printing till you have something that pleases you.

Below: my prints when finished. I'll add an eye to each.

Here's three of the prints put together to make a picture.